Busting The Lie Of Igbo Domination In The Old Eastern Region

55

Good day House, I have always wondered why the lies against igbos by other tribes(minorities) in the Eastern region still persisted. This was one of the gimmicks used to ensure that the igbo never become a strong force politically. In my research I stumbled upon a telegram from Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe giving the go ahead for the creation of the COR state. The squabbles among the minorities never allowed it see the light of the day. And then the Jan 66 coup and the civil war ensued. Thank goodness for Internet some truths are coming to light. Below is the telegram from Zik, Great Britain Commission to Enquire into the Fears of Minorities and the Means of Allaying Them (1958) The Eastern Region 5. The Cross River State is another which has no history of continuous pressure or strong popular support behind it. At various times the NCNC has suggested a number of combinations of different areas into states, and this was one of the fourteen states mentioned in the election manifesto of the NCNC for the 1957 Regional Elections. We received however no evidence of any support for the proposal from Ogoja. Counsel on behalf of the Cross River State and the signatories to the memoranda we received came from Calabar and were supporters of the NCNC Party. The arguments in its favour were based on what we have referred to in Chapter 5 as the commercial empire of Calabar and the influence of trade and missionary penetration up the Cross River ; it laid stress on the unifying influence of the Efik language and the Ekpe society. Asked whether the Government approved of the proposal for this state, its principal exponent replied that he had the personal approval of Dr. Azikiwe, the Premier of the Region ; we were shown a telegram from the Premier : “ Memorandum Cross River excellent go ahead " We asked to see the covering letter with which this memorandum had been sent to Dr. Azikiwe, and found that it stated that the motive for submitting the memorandum was : “ to break that atmosphere in the unanimity of the COR demand on the one hand and to save our faces with our people on the other hand ”. We believe this to be the truth... 12. To sum up, we have no doubt that the great majority of the Ibibio and Efik tribes, located in the three Divisions of Calabar, Uyo and Eket, wish to see a separate state and would like it to be as large as they can make it ; the only tie however between the various peoples whom they suggest for the COR State is that they are not Ibo, and apart from this central section, we believe that the majority would view the prospect of a COR State with as much apprehension as a continuance of the present position. 13. We turn now to the Rivers State. Here the argument is somewhat different. The first point raised by the Rivers Chiefs and Peoples is historical and legal ; it is their contention that when the British first came to this area they made treaties of trade and protection with local Chiefs ; these were of a special nature and differed from the treaties made with other Chiefs inland. The British Crown undertook to provide protection and to deal with foreign powers, but the treaties did not provide that the Chiefs should surrender to the British Government a sovereignty which could be transferred to any other authority. If Her Majesty's Government saw fit to end the treaties, then the Chiefs of this area were morally entitled to revert to their original status. We did not feel called upon, nor indeed were we qualified, to form conclusions on any legal or moral obligation of Her Majesty's Government which might arise from these treaties ; we have, however, borne in mind the historical and social consequences of these treaties in their relation to the subject matter of the enquiry. 14. The movement for a Rivers State began after the Constitutional Conference of 1953 , when the Council of Rivers Chiefs prepared a memorandum for the resumed Conference of 1954 ; as in the case of the COR State, consideration of this memorandum was postponed until 1957, when the Conference was attended by a special representative of the movement, now known as the Rivers Chiefs and Peoples Conference. Apart from the historical and legal argument , the case for the Rivers State was that the people in this area shared a way of life dictated by the physical circumstances of the country in which they lived , and that they were united by fear of neglect at the hands of a Government who did not understand their needs and who in any case put the needs of the interior first. The area claimed for the Rivers State consists of the whole of the Rivers Province, that is the Divisions of Brass , Degema, Ogoni , Port Harcourt and Ahoada , together with the Western Ijaw Division from the Western Region, and two small sections in the Eastern Region from outside the Rivers Province, Opobo and Andoni being one, Ndoki the other. To this they would add as many other Ijaws as might conveniently be included by adjustment of boundaries. * photo from The Land and People of Rivers State: Eastern Niger Delta edited by Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa and Abi A. Derefak (2002)

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