By Jeff Ejiofor
Having knowledge of our history allows us to understand where we are coming from, which allows us to understand our present. It not only reveals the past, but also helps us create a better future. In the words of Robert A. Heinlein, a great philosopher of his time, a generation which ignores history does not have a past or a future. Enugu East Senatorial Zone is one of the three senatorial districts that make up the current Enugu State political structure and it is comprised of six local government areas. It was created in 1996 at the inception of the present Enugu State when Abakiliki left to form Ebonyi State with a fraction of Abia State. In Enugu East today, there are the Nike Confederacy found in Enugu East and North LGAs, Ngwo people in Enugu North LGA, Awkunanaw stock seen in Enugu South and part of Nkanu West LGAs, Isi-Uzo LGA, and Nkanu people found in Nkanu East and West LGAs. All these peoples are constitutionally equal stakeholders in Enugu East Senatorial Zone which was created in the year 1996 under the leadership of Late General Sani Abacha.
Interestingly, the clamour for a governor of Enugu East extraction in Enugu State has reached a feverish stage as Enugu people have collectively affirmed their unalloyed resolve to maintain the zoning tradition which favours the zone. In the build up to party nominations and primaries for general elections, the entire state through zonal rallies in 2021, endorsed Enugu East Zone as the zone qualified to produce the next governor of the state.
As a result of this collective affirmation from the west, north and east of Enugu State, efforts have been intensified by political actors in Enugu East Zone to clinch the exalted office come 2023. In doing that, claims and counter claims of ownership of Enugu East Zone has become a burning issue and a decoy to wage psychological war against the interest of some LGAs. Some claim to be core Nkanu and refer to others as periphery Nkanu. Some group of persons are even propagating a malicious narrative that Isi-Uzo LGA which was carved out from old Nsukka Zone should not be accommodated because they are Nsukka, an argument heavily punctured by historical and cultural realities. This scenario leads us to the question; who are the real owners of Enugu East?
Historically, most communities in Isi-Uzo local government trace their original abodes to the current Enugu East LGA. Communities like Neke and Mbu still have their kiths and kin in Nike Kingdom who recognise their affinities and relationships up till today. It may interest readers to know that Neke still has two of its communities in Nike today, Neke Uno and Neke Odenigbo. They are the same Neke as the one found in Isi-Uzo LGA and they share the same cultural ties. Mbu is not different as some families in Alulu and Ugwuogo Nike are still holding meetings together with them as kiths and kin today. Ikem is another community in Isi-Uzo that has inseparable ties with Nike ironically regarded as the elder of Nkanu. Ikem still has relationship contact with Ogbeke Nike today and history has it that Ikem is the spiritual headquarters of Nkanu land.
Eha-Amufu, another major community in Isi-Uzo has been historically linked with the people of Nkanu. As a matter of fact, some villages in Amankanu are found in Eha-Amufu and their history is interwoven. Amaede people of Eha-Amufu are the same Amaede in Amankanu. Currently, an Amaede person from Eha-Amufu is an Igwe in Amankanu community and because they are the same people, nobody raises eyebrows. Also, an Aguamaede person from Eha-Amufu is a political office holder in Nkanu East Local Government Council right now and no discrimination of any sort because they know their historical connections. Fortunately, some Nkanu East communities like Owo, Amagunze, Ubahu, Amaechi Idodo and Amankanu have inalienable historical connections with Eha-Amufu in Isi-Uzo local government area and the evidences abound.
In conclusion, from the above historical realities between the people of Isi-Uzo and other parts of Enugu East Zone, it is explicit and clear that knowing the real owners of Enugu East is not farfetched. Historically, Isi-Uzo communities are co founders of Enugu East land and should not be excluded from the politics of whatever comes to the zone for any reason. Their geographical location at the time of colonial delineation which made them a part of Nsukka Zone in the old political order doesn’t make them less Enugu East now. We all know how Isi-Uzo was brought back by Late Odezuligbo 1 of Nike, Igwe Edward Nnaji who spearheaded the process with other elders of Enugu East Zone. Documents about what transpired and some agreements written in the process are still in the archive today and can be accessed. So, there is a need for restraints on the part of those distorting historical facts because of immediate and selfish political gains. Some of these persons claiming ownership of Enugu East now were probably in other faraway places when the forefathers of Isi-Uzo were securing and expanding the land of Enugu East. They should know that history is an inevitable aspect of our existence as a people.