Nigeria recently just marked its 57th year as an Independent Nation, while some would argue…
On September 1st, 2017, a rather interesting match was played here at the Nest of Champions, Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions. Fortunately, Nigeria thrashed the Lions with a four goals to nil score line.
The country has since been in high spirits. However, the immediate hosts of the match, the good people of Akwa Ibom state, are hurting.
The match, like all events of such magnitude, was reported on National TV. The Nigerian Television Authority however reported that the match was played in Calabar, Cross River – a rather egregious error for a national TV station. And this little mistake is the reason why Akwa Ibomites are hurting: the fact that Uyo was elided for Calabar, or that Uyo was subsumed under Calabar.
This obvious mistake seems quite a trifle for an entire people to pine over, and it’s definitely something that can be overlooked. But it seems that it has become a norm; at least it has become so commonplace as to be carried on national TV! Since Akwa Ibom was created from Cross River state thirty years ago, and given the relative cultural uniformity of both states, it seems that in the minds of people, Akwa Ibom is yet to exist. So, a lot of people just say Calabar (the capital city of Cross River), when they mean to say Uyo (the capital city of Akwa Ibom).
An NTA news ticker (scroll bar) reported that the match was played in Calabar. But IT’S UYO, NOT CALABAR; IT’S AKWA IBOM, NOT CROSS RIVER.
Even though the people of Akwa Ibom very readily identify with those of Cross River, it is outrageous to see Akwa Ibom through the eyes of Cross River, to put it that way. It’s a slight on the pride of Akwa Ibomites as a socio-political unit. A state that is 30 years old is not a small state. And even if age doesn’t count, solid personal achievements cannot be ignored.
Akwa Ibom has recorded the following achievements and must be given her pride of place amongst other states:
• The 1914 Amalgamation Declaration was done in the present-day Ikot Abasi Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State. Nigeria began to exist as a single, even if incoherent, political entity from Akwa Ibom. We have Sir Fredrick Lord Lugard’s residence here, which should have, by now, become a national tourist attraction.
• The famous women’s riot of 1929 which lead to a micro-war against taxation in the entire south eastern region began in Ikot Abasi. The panel that sat thereafter to investigate the matter only did so in Aba. But till today, that riot is still fallaciously referred to as the Aba Women’s Riot.
• Akwa Ibom produced one of Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor – Clement ISONG.
• Akwa Ibom produced one of Nigeria’s first legal luminaries – Justice Udo UDOMA, first Chief Justice of Kenya.
• Akwa Ibom produced Nigeria’s first World Boxing Champion (WBC) – Samuel OKON Peter.
• Akwa Ibom has produced the likes of INI Edo, IME Bishop, Emem ISONG, etc., who are contributing their quota to make Nigeria a country to reckon with in the global movie sphere.
• Akwa Ibom has one of the first Prelates of the Methodist Church – Bishop Sunday MBANG.
• In literature, Akwa Ibom has produced Uwem AKPAN, Anietie ISONG, etc., whose works have won laurels.
And, for a lot of those who do not know, the Efik people of Calabar migrated from the now Uruan Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom. Till today, whenever the Obong of Calabar dies, it is an Uruan man that crowns another. The Efik people as we know them today are ethnic children, more or less, of the Ibibio people of Akwa Ibom state.
The essence of this campaign is not to spread bile between these two sister tribes. It is just to set records straight. Indeed, as it is said, you bale the water while it is still at the knees. If such a scandalizing error can be made on national TV, the water has indeed come to the ankle. Every people have the right to self-assertion. Surely any well-meaning Nigerian can understand that, especially looking at our multi-lingual, multi-ethnic nation.
So, what are you waiting for? Join the campaign: #UyoNotCalabar; #AkwaIbomNotCrossRiver.
It might not bother you today, but someday it might.