Following the clannish leanings which has besieged Ika land in time past, the Pioneer President of Ika Elite Development League, Mr. Roland Egede has charged Ika people to “harness the latent gains in our unity” He gave this charge while presenting a paper during the Commissioning ceremony of Hospital Beds and mattresses donated by Ika Elite Development League recently at Ika National Hall.
In his words, “We are sons and daughters of Ika Land. Ika Nation comprises majorly of people from two local government areas of our great state-Delta State, being Ika North-East and Ika South. Our brothers and sisters of Ika extraction are also found in some parts of Edo State. There have been several arguments concerning our origin as Ika People. Some have traced it to the Benin Kingdom; others to the Igbo’s across the Niger. While our past may mean a lot to us, however; what we make of our today is what will take us to our collective destiny as a people.
Agriculturally, Ika Nation is blessed with a vast expanse of arable land suitable for farming. Academically, the land has produced professors and Doctors in various disciplines both at home and in the Diaspora. In the civil service, we cannot forget super permanent secretaries and permanent secretaries of various ministries, both at the Federal and State Government levels, all of Ika extraction. In the Media, Ika Nation has produced media moguls and renowned journalists of international repute. In the private sector, we are all aware of the giant strides being made by sons and daughters of Ika Land as Chief Executives of Banks and various National and Multinational corporations.
Politically, Ika Nation has produced the sitting State Governor as well as the sitting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. It has also produced at various times, a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, a Deputy Governor, an Acting Governor of our dear state, Retired Generals of the Nigerian Army, a Deputy Inspector General of Police, an Ambassador, a Speaker of the House of Assembly, several commissioners, and so on. Can we close our eyes for a moment and imagine what this land would have been in an ideal situation with the amount of natural and human resources God has blessed us with? Can we truly easily think of any other Nation or group of people around us who have been so blessed with people in such high positions of authority and responsibility? Can we truly say that God has not been very favourably disposed towards us? How many communities or people around us can truly boast of this intimidating record of achievements? Other people will certainly cringe with jealousy when they hear these things. Some might even go to the extent of accusing God of being biased towards us. The question therefore is-How have we used these benefits for the advancement of Ika Nation? How have we used these opportunities to improve our society? How have we used these advantages to improve the lives of our people?
THE ISSUES-STRIFE AND DISUNITY
As a people, we lived well over the years before the then Ika Local Government Area was split into two: i.e Ika North East and Ika South Local Government Areas. Even though there existed internal strife which was mostly of traditional coloration then; the decision to split the area into two local governments with an overall aim of bringing development closer to the people eventually gave rise to an obvious polarization of the society along socio-political lines. This gave birth to an endless claim to superiority of one over the other and a growing distrust between and amongst our people.
This provided a fertile ground for the seed of discord to grow between us as we started things like-we are from Owa, we are from Agbor, I am from Owa, so I cannot build my house on Agbor Land or I am from Agbor, so I cannot build my house on Owa Land. People from one side of the community cannot even host their events on the other side of town and vice versa. Even entities started adopting identities that bore names or phrases that are sectional, parochial and self-serving. All of these continued to fan the embers of disunity in Ika Land. We find it difficult to co-operate among ourselves economically, socially, and even politically. Yet, we engage in the highest level of co-operation through inter-marriage. What an irony.
May I categorically state that this attitude and approach has not helped us at all in achieving any significant goal; rather, it has brought us setbacks and stagnancy in development alongside hatred for one another. There cannot be any meaningful development in an atmosphere of bitterness and rancor.
THE WAY FORWARD
How do we rise above our limitations and collectively aim to conquer a set goal? How do we defy the various odds stacked against us by virtue of feeble humanity? The answer to these puzzles lies in an age-long fact which oftentimes seems hidden in plain sight; i.e “There is power in numbers’. However, for the purpose of this address, permit me to re-conceptualize this as “There is Power in cohesive numbers”.
This universal fact is the master key with the dual-stroke that not only blurs out our individual pitfalls and shortcomings; as one tends to complement the other, but also goes a step further to magnify our impact, just as the strength of one is amplified by the other. Indeed, the strength of a cohesive whole cannot be outmatched by a segment or a detached part of the whole. This point is driven home by a very simple and familiar analogy as depicted by the broom. For while a long broom stick can only manage a stroke or two in the sand, a broom would achieve a SWEEPING VICTORY when put to use, regardless of the disproportionate sizes of its composition.
Our unity de-emphasizes our individual inabilities, while amplifying our collective effectiveness as a cohesive agglomeration. Individualism can never hold sway in the face of Unison as Unison will always trump individualism.
As earlier stated, we are in an age of unity and co-operation. The world is now a global village. How can we be united by origin, language and geographical contiguity, and yet behave like strangers to each other when it comes to collaboration? We must begin to see the larger picture in all we do; we must begin to tap into the very things that unite us and downplay the issues that divide us. We must celebrate the shared qualities that make us brothers and condemn the forces that make us want to see ourselves as enemies.
The time has come for a shift in paradigm. We must change our way of seeing things, starting from ourselves. As soldiers of change, I mean real change; we must continue to pursue the agenda of unity and co-operation in every sphere of life we find ourselves. We are Ika people. Our fathers have done a good job in their time and we are proud of them. However, we must move with the times. We must move from sectional concepts of Agborka and Nowarinma to Ika ka and N’Ikarinma. We are stronger together than we can ever be individually. All for one and one for all; united we stand, divided we fall.
God bless Nigeria,
God bless Delta State
God bless Ika Nation.
A PAPER PRESENTED BY MR ROLAND EGEDE AT THE COMMISSIONING CEREMONY
OF HOSPITALS BEDS TO IKA NATION BY IKA ELITES DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE