Home Columns Yes! Anambra Is Not Imo

Yes! Anambra Is Not Imo


By Ethelbert Okere

A few days ago, a young man with whom I have a casual acquaintance approached me, at the entrance of a shop in the area of Owerri where I reside, with the following question: “Sir, what is the meaning of this Anambra is not Imo?”. He appeared sincere and innocent; so I felt that he needed to know from me more than most of his fellow Imo youths.

I told him that what it simply means is that when next he is involved in an argument with his age mate from Anambra state, he would most probably hear something like, “Bia Nwokem, Kpachapukwa Anya Gi, Aburo Kwam Onye Imo Ka Gi Nwa” (My Friend, Be Careful, I Am Not From Imo Like You). The young man momentarily went into some deep thinking, then shuddered and said: “That’s an insult, but why are we saying it over and over here in Imo?”.

I told him to go and pose the same question to his fellow Imo youths particularly those in the so called opposition political parties; whether, Imo youths are wise in chorusing such a hate slogan that invariably confers on their people a second class citizenship status in the Igbo nation; whether, beyond the pursuit of electoral victory, the authors of the slogan were right in putting such a rather ‘racist’ wedge between the peoples of the two states known for their cultural, economic, sociological ,etc affinity; whether, outside the regrets of a temporary political setback, Imolites should accept being of an inferior stock, in any ramification, whatsoever, to Anambrarians. And finally, whether, indeed, political brigandage is more evident among Ndi Imo than it is among Ndi Anambra, as the authors of the slogan tend to insinuate.

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Evidently, those who coined the phrase failed to take into account recent events in the mutual political history of the good peoples of the two states. In the count down to the 2019 general elections, a big fight took place between political office aspirants in the Imo state wing of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the national leaders of the party who were mostly indigenes of Anambra state. The primary elections to throw up candidates for the various offices were highly contentious, as many aspirants in Imo state complained of short changing by the national leadership of the party.

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It is not a hidden matter that arising from that, there is today no love lost between those aspirants and the party’s Anambra-dominated national leadership. For the governorship primary election, for example, the story is well known that while aspirants, their supporters and delegates were waiting at an officially agreed venue, the national leaders were holding an exercise at a secret venue where a candidate emerged.

I can remember running into one of the aspirants, Chief Humphrey Anumudu, at the entrance of Rock View Hotel, Owerri and upon inquiring how he was faring, he quickly quipped: “Ndia Choro Igwu Anyi Wayo” (These People Want To Defraud Us). Today, the average Imolite believes that the APGA leadership merely came to Imo to extort money from Imo political office aspirants. As a matter of fact, it is believed that the party raked in a total of over four billion naira from Imo aspirants for the various offices.

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Thus, by the time we put that episode into account, it would no longer be difficult to believe that, indeed, “Anambra Is Not Imo”; for the simple reason that you need to have a heart made steel to be able to execute the type of heist that was perpetrated by the Anambra-dominated APGA national leadership on Imo soil in the conduct of ordinary party primaries.

Poor Imolites! They are now facing a double jeopardy. They are been mocked and cajoled by the same people who came and feasted on their innocence the other time. Tragically, their traducers find impetus in the exuberance of some young Imo politicians who, in bid to meet the expectations of their benefactors, have accepted that Anambrarians do things better than Imolites.

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But now that Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, who popularized the hate talk, albeit with the vernacular version – Anambra Aburo Imo – has won the election that led him to such and unbecoming antics; and now that His Excellency, Governor Obiano has succeeded in getting what he wanted, both should take immediate steps to repudiate the seed of discord they have sown between these two peoples – Anambra and Imo – who have lived for hundreds of years in brotherly love and mutual respect.

Imo and Anambra are the two most geographically contiguous states in the whole of the Nigerian federation. As a matter of fact, the two states are borderless; as all their border towns empty into one another. At Amorka, the border town between the two states along the Owerri- Onitsha high way, you would hardly notice when you are in Anambra from Imo or vice versa.

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During the day, the native women there buy and sell in the markets with their counterparts in Mgbidi, the next Imo town from the Owerri end. In addition, residents from both sides cross over in either direction to eat in the same restaurants. At night, their men drink in the same joints. In fact, there is this myth that ladies from both sides could walk across, sl..p with their lovers and return to their homes before the first cock crow.

In Akokwa, Imo state, a bubbling town at the border between the latter and Anambra, majority of those doing business there are from Uga, the next town which is in Anambra. We can go on and on to demonstrate the strong cultural, economic, religious etc bond that has been in existence between the peoples of both states.

I am not unmindful of the fact that I may be labeled naive or feigning ignorance of the real motive behind the hate slogan under reference; which was the fear that the just concluded Anambra governorship election could be influenced by Imo politicians who were sent there on official party assignment. Whether such an apprehension was founded or not is outside the scope of this essay but whatever the case, it tells its own story that those concerned felt so frightened by the mere mention of the certain names that they stampeded themselves into sacrificing the much desired and cherished oneness among Ndi Igbo on the altar of a fleeting occupancy– even with an eight-year tenure – of a gubernatorial abode.

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It is doubtful if this nervous, knee-jerk approach to politics will lead to the ultimate expectations of Ndi Igbo.
As for the young partisans in Imo state who have acquiesced to the notion that they are of an inferior stock, let me again remind them of a Yoruba saying that only a bastard points at his father’s house with a left finger.

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