Ikwuano is a Local Government Area of Abia State, Nigeria. Its headquarters is in Isiala Oboro. It has an area of 281km and a population of about 437,893. It is made up of about 57 villages and communities and is bounded by Ini LGA, Obot Akara LG both of Akwa Ibom State, Isialangwa South, Bende, Umuahia South and Umuahia North. Ikwuano Local Government Area can be referred to as the food basket of Abia State basically because of its rich agricultural produce it is endowed with. Ikwuano as the name implies is derived from the coming together of four (4) related brothers namely Oboro, Ibere, Ariam-Usaka and Oloko. Ikwu (Relations/Relatives) and Ano (Four 4) meaning four relations. Ikwuano LGA was among the local government areas that were created on the 27th of August 1991 when the General Ibrahim Babangida’s Administration created Abia State from the old Imo State, it was carved out of the Ikwuano-Umuahia Local Government Area. It’s one of the six LGAs that make up Abia Central Senatorial District. lkwuano houses the famous Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, The National Crop Research Institute as well as the prestigious Government Collage Umuahia. It is known for her agricultural activities.
Besides being an agricultural food basket and the connecting hub between two oil producing state capitals, Umuahia (Abia State) and Uyo (Akwa Ibom State), lkwuano has produced over five leading Academic professors, numerous academic Phd. Holders and medical doctors, lkwuano has also produced various Military Generals and other top ranking military officers both serving and retired, two former military Governors, the first senator to represent the old Odida Anyanwu County encompassing, Umuahia North and South up to old Bende, Various state Assembly representatives including during the Old Imo legislative Assembly, Federal ministers, Top Political Party Administrators at the Federal level. It has also produced various accomplished entertainment practitioners both in Nollywood and the Nigerian music industry, numerous engineers, public health practitioners, insurance gurus and very many Banking experts, distinguished legal practitioners, accomplished business men living both within and outside the country and a host of renowned clergy men.
As a people we have also had a good number of state commissioners who have handled first rate ministries such as lands, works, finance, commerce and industry, youth development etc, including very many permanent secretaries both at the state and federal levels, acclaimed accountants and auditors. We have had numerous senior special assistants and special advisers to the Governors of Abia state through administrations. As a people lkwuano has been blessed with vast human resources.
From Nkalunta through Elemaga to Azunchia the fertility of our soil has enhanced the farming and production of Cocoa, making us produce over 150 tons of cocoa annually. Our Palm fruits production is estimated to be over 200 tons each harvest season, production of other agricultural products like vegetables and cassava also run into tens of tons each harvest season. Yet we do not have any food storage facility either privately owned nor through government.
We are blessed with Kaolin clay in Obunta. (Kaolin the most important ingredient in the production of porcelain ceramics) with streams crisscrossing the entire landscape and its attendant vegetation, crude oil may indeed be discovered in lkwuano if explored. Nature in Ikwuano is really at its best and there are huge prospects of tourism if developed. Known for our production of palm wine, we had one of the first palm wine bottling factories in the south east. Politically, we are an active people. Having produced a senator, elected federal and state legislators, administrators and top party officials in various political associations. Ikwuano being a very sensitive political nerve centre was long demonstrated in 1929 during the Aba women Riots.
“The revolt broke out when thousands of lgbo women from the Bende District, Umuahia and other places in eastern Nigeria traveled to the town of Oloko in present lkwuano LGA to protest against the Warrant Chiefs, whom they accused of restricting the role of women in the government. The Aba Women’s Riots of 1929, as it was named in British colonial records, is more aptly considered a strategically executed anti-colonial revolt organized by women to redress social, political and economical grievances. The “Women’s War”took months for the government to suppress and became a historic example of feminist and anti-colonial protest. The Aba Women’s War promoted colonial authorities to drop their plans to impose tax on the market women and to curb the power of the warrant chiefs. The women’s uprising is seen as the first major challenge to British authority in Nigeria and West Africa during the colonial period.
Despite our being endowed with so much we are yet to develop a sustained internal economy as a people. There is no single trading or business point that transacts close to Two million naira daily from all transactions within it, despite being a high transit hub between two oil producing state capitals. We are yet to develop a political and socio-economic plan to develop our communities. Unlike most other communities, we are yet to have a developmental plan in the twenty first century, articulated collectively with the sole purpose of developing our communities and our people who are largely subsistence farmers. As a people we seem to prefer docility and inter personal blackmail while always waiting for the government to come to our aid without any strategic plan to at least ensure government listens to our needs.
This “lack of vision” has opened us up to ridicule as a people.
The only semi functional industry in lkwuano is the local government council. We neither have a functional government owned general hospital nor a modern private hospital to cater for the health needs of over 400,000 citizens….
The absence of a “structured” internal economy despite producing annual agricultural products of over Three Hundred Million Naira (N300,000,000.00) has led to our over dependence on other communities for our needs, particularly Umuahia. For instance, at a current market price of N608,522.00 per metric ton of Cocoa beans, it is estimated that income generated by Cocoa produced in lkwuano is in excess of N121,704,400.00 (One hundred and twenty-one million, seven hundred and four thousand four hundred Naira) at an estimated 150 Tons per annum another conservative estimate for Palm oil and Palm kernel oil produced from Palm fruits produced in lkwuano is put at over Ninety-one Million Naira annually (N91,000,000.00). With such economic potentials, we as a people have failed to develop an economic model to make us competitive in the twenty first century in the process, losing millions of naira in taxes which would have accrued to the Local council authorities which could have been used to provide other infrastructural benefits to our communities. From purchase of machinery to, clothes, food stuffs, drugs etc., we rely on Umuahia and Aba majorly to service our needs, we don’t even have a functional Transit Park for both commuters and produce, despite these advantages. To travel to other neighboring states and communities from lkwuano you must either first get to Umuahia to board transportation or Aba.
As a community of over Four hundred thousand people, we do not have a daily modern market? This seeming lack of vision has led to low investment drive towards Ikwuano as a council area, within the private sector. From Amaba spanning over 40Km of populated “high way” cutting through Ikwuano and connecting Umuahia and Uyo, two oil producing state capitals, you will not find, one bank nor any ATM machine point, clearly this is something to worry about. We seem to blame the political class for all the wrongs in Ikwuano, but have we as a people developed a template for what we want and where we should be as a people? Have we articulated our position as a people for our politicians to work with having a clear focus and vision? Why have we failed to recognize the fact that we are heading towards economic colonization by our immediate neighboring communities giving them access to determine our wellbeing as a people? To get good medical attention, you need to first get to Umuahia or Uyo because no Private medical practitioner will establish his clinic in a pauperized environment. Our people live on less than $3 a day, we must understand that “it is not out of the benevolence of the baker that he bakes bread” we must begin to use our areas of comparative advantage to the development of our people. This is the only way we can attract a visible government intervention. Over fifty years after producing the first senator who represented up to some areas in Bende, we are yet to again, attain that position as a people, it took us over thirty-five years after that to Get representation in the house of Representatives. Between lkwuano/Umuahia, there are five state constituency seats and three local councils, lkwuano has one of both..Why do we as a people celebrate mediocrity despite all our advantages as a people?
The educational standard has taken a nose dive but yet our elites seem not to notice. (Oboro secondary school and Ikwuano secondary school Ariam, are all a shadow of themselves, one wonders if these institutions do not have outstanding people who passed through them)With the steady decline of the educational standard, what future do we hope to leave behind? The rate of infrastructural decay within our communities is second to none. It’s easy to lay blames but have we as a people planned our future and failed? In my opinion, we are where we are today because we have failed to collectively plan our course and hold our politicians responsible and accountable. Politically, we have continued to constantly diminish the “Ikwuano first” notion. The lack of an articulated socio/economic vision majorly creates an environment of personal interests within the political class, thereby relegating the essence of public service to the back bench. Political offices are now seen as a means of personal empowerment rather than a call to serve. Our political history is full of betrayals among ourselves to the detriment of our communities. Our politicians prefer to always pioneer non indigenes to the detriment of their own even when ours is better qualified. One wonders why this level of insincerity among our political class has continued to dig in, rather than being washed off. It is time we find common grounds to bring both the political class, Business class, our Youth leaders and our Traditional rulers together to fashion out a way forward and develop a blue print to work with. This may sound idealistic but it is achievable.
This is primarily the essence of this summit being organized by Ahamefula Development Initiative lkwuano. A new beginning is inevitable politically if we intend as a people to progress. Political cultism and mediocrity MUST be discarded for competence and positive political pragmatism. We must ensure our Votes in any political process counts; these. We must ensure our people are better informed to enable them make informed decisions. We must reject any act of intimidation or appeasement by looters of our common heritage, and shun self-acclaimed leaders who have continued to trade us in with pilferers of our heritage for personal gains. We must share in our beliefs for a better society hinged on equity, the rule of law and the demands of modern societal development. We must shun nepotism and fraternal cleavages. To move forward, Merit is key. Until we get rid of politics of “anywhere belle face” we will continue to suffer from politics of mediocrity and pilfering. The people must learn to reject these so-called opinion molders or self-acclaimed leaders who feed fat from the system by betraying the gullible masses who form the bedrock of the grassroots. As patriotic participants in this political struggle, we have a duty to enlighten the less privileged/educated in our society to understand the power of the choices and decisions they make with regards to our election process. It is time to say good bye to politics of stomach infrastructure which has led us nowhere. Our people have to be made to understand that economic colonization is next to slavery We must begin to ask questions and expect answers from our politicians rather than swallow lies being dished out to us. We must insist on the real socio/economic development of our societies/communities and the creation of a level playing ground for all, not symbolic development. The time to wake up is now. Politically as a people, we must strive to stop being a shopping ground for invaders, we must learn to articulate our position as a people and ensure we deliver a pass mark during elections towards our collective objective as a people. This is the only way we can be taken and treated as a serious people among communities. It now MUST be “IKWUANO FIRST”
Hon. Chukwuemeka G. Osoagbaka
Chairman, Ahamefula Development