UNIFICATION OF IKA CLANS INTO A FEDERATION.
The eleven clans were co-ordinated and unified into a Federation by the British Officers through a gradual process. With the coming of the British, the eleven clans then were brought together to form one modern local unit. When Captain M.O.S. Crew Read came to Agbor in 1901, Agbor became the Administrative Headquarters for the area. Then, Ika area was dubbed Agbor District, which was formally opened early in 1906, and a District Officer, Captain Crew Read was made to station at Agbor. Since then, the administration of Ika area has witnessed several stages of reformation, beginning with Agbor District.
The formation of Agbor District as a Council was proposed by the Assistant District Officer at Agbor as contained in his letter No. 319/29/1927 of 15th August, 1927, addressed to the District Officer, Asaba Division, Ogwashi-Uku. The inaugural meeting of Agbor District Council was held on 24th March, 1928, under the Chairmanship of the Assistant District Officer, F.G. Pyke Nott. By this move, the ‘traditional Ika’ was giving way to ‘modern lka’ by embracing changes in some respects, while accommodating some of the old ways of life still valued by the people.
When ‘lka’ had been used before 1945, it was for convenience purposes. Since this year, Ika realized more than ever before that whether they were of different neighbouring clans, they have come from one blood and one stock and have continued to honour, respect and love one another. So like now, the word, “Ika”, is used to refer to the Nation (Ika World) now known by the name. Ika is a nation in evolution from that humble beginning to have an identity, and free herself from a nation that had no clear focus beyond worshipping heroes from outside it as was before.
It is believed that the payment of salaries to the Obis began in 1927 when the Agbor Native Authority was introduced. his letter No. 114/1927 of 24th February, 1929, to the Resident, Benin Province. The District Officer, Asaba Division, recommended that the salaries of five Obis should be increased in consideration of their political importance in the District as under:
NAME PRESENT SALARY
SUGGESTED PER ANNUM NEW RATE
The Obi of Agbor £200 £300
Chief Okoh of Owa £72 £120
The Obi of Umunede £54 £120
The Obi of Akumazi £72 £96
The Obi of Abavo £50 £96
There are no records available to show whether or not the other Obis not included above were paid any salaries at all until after the Re-organization of the Clan Native Authorities.
The Re-organization of the Clan Native Authorities meaning as it were, a reversion to the social structure of pre-government days, and the consequent displacement of the warrant chiefs, gradually came into operation in 1933. Each Obi’s salary was then he calculated on the basis of tax and other sources of revenue estimated to be realized from the respective clans. But experience soon proved that some Clan Authorities were not an self-sufficient. It was, therefore, considered expedient to form a Federal Native Authority as from 1945 in order that there would be a uniform scheme of development. This gave birth to the Ika District, vis-à-vis, the Ika nation (Ika World), which forms the Title of this book.
The instrument establishing this as a Council is in WRLN 21 of 1954. The prescribed and Area of Authority for each of the eleven clans in Ika were gazetted in WRLN 207 of 1959. It is however doubtful whether the said recommended salary increase for five Obis was paid them immediately. The detail of subsequent salaries paid to the Obis from 1947 are as follow:
|The Obi of Agbor||£150||£240||£276||£312||£359|
|The Obi of Owa||£72||£84||£100.||£117.12s.||£136|
|The Obi of Umunede||£40||£60||£72||£84||£96.12|
|The Obi of Akumazi||£47||£60||£72||£84||£84|
|The Obi of Abavo||£60||£84||£100.16s||£117.12s.||£136|
|The Obi of Igbodo||£12||£36||£43.10s.||£51||£80|
|The Obi of Itolokpo||£18||£30||£36||£42||£48.6s|
|The Obi of Ute-Okpu||£33||£48||£57.12s||£67||£79|
|The Obi of Ute-Ogbeje||£14||£30||£36||£42||£84|
|The Obi of Mbiri||£10||£30||£36||£42||£38.8s|
|The Obi of Okparan-Uku of Idumuesah||£24||£23.16s.||£33.8s.||£36.8s|
|Chief Abojoga of Emuhu||£6||£12||£14.8||£16.15||£18.8s|
- It seems clear that up to 1959/60, the changes or increases in the Obis’ salaries were calculated in consideration of the population, tax and revenue of each clan as well as the political importance of the Obi. The only peculiar change, which occurred in 1962/63 in respect of the Obi of Ute-Ogbeje was merely on political grounds.
- There were no increases between 1962/63 and 1968/69 in the Obis’ salaries, which remain unchanged till 1969/70.
- The principles adopted in calculating these salaries from the inception of Native Administration appear to have been mainly on the following factors:
(a) The population of the clan area of authority, and
(b) The tax and other sources of revenue from the clan.
In the past, the Government carefully watched the general conduct of an Obi or Okparan-Uku as well as his ability to maintain law and order in his clan area. An Obi or Okparan-Uku who was proved to have misconducted himself to the dissatisfaction of his people and the Government was disciplined by suspension from exercising his administrative functions and stoppage of his salary during the period of such suspension, which could be for 6 months or 12 months, as the case may be. In this manner, the Government took cognizance of the good conduct of an Obi or Okparan-Uku, who had proved himself capable of efficiently discharging his duties and responsibilities as required of him. These constituted the measures of discipline, which enabled the Government to assess the worth of the Obis or Okparan-Uku in any respect.
The eleven clans were brought together to form one modern government unit. It became necessary for the people to change their attitudes and behaviours and gradually move away from extensive attachment to the old localities to a new feeling towards the bigger community. This was how communities that saw themselves as neighbours and perhaps, ‘other people’ gradually came to see themselves as members of the same Ika community. The British created new and bigger Ika community out of the old rural settlements of Ika people, which were required by this idea to surrender in full, or in part, an attribute of their ‘independence’. This loss is made good by the benefits expected from the unity of oneness and living together in a bigger Ika community.
It is pertinent to observe here that Obika was recognized as the Dein, Eze Agbor in July 1935. He began to reign as the Dein, Eze Agbor, and the head of the Agbor District Council and Native Court until a change in the administrative policy, in which all the towns under former Agbor District were made independent clans with equal status in 1952.
Towards the growth of Ika into a Nation, its administration witnessed several stages of reformation beginning with:
- Agbor as the seat of Administration for Ika, Ishan Kukuruku, Aniocha, Oshimili and Ukwuani areas fro 1901-1906;
- Agbor District Council from 1906-1944; Ika District Council from 1945-1952;
- Ika (Federal) Native Authority from 1952-1967;
- Ika Divisional Council from 1968-1975, and
- Ika Local Government Council as from 1976 till date.
The Local Government Reforms in 1976 brought about the existence of the Local Government Council as the Third Arm of Government in Nigeria. “With the reforms, a new level government is added below the Federal and State Government levels”
So, known affectionately as Ika nation with its rich connotations of plenty, prosperity, ease, comfort and tranquility, the name, Ika, appears to be a corruption of Evbo Eka, the name with which the Binis christened the area from time. “…The Binis gave the name, Ika, which was a mockery and today, the people of Ika are misrepresented as a result of the name, which was associated with “Ika Ibo”.
Although there were no precise boundaries in the past to identify Ika nation, the events that followed show that the geographical form of the Ika area, did in fact, bring people living in it into greater contact, on the whole, than the people outside it.
The Ika People:
Things connected with this area, at all periods of history, have made it a natural region, which could be considered by it. All the kingdoms developed distinguished cultural peculiarities that contrast Ikas from their neighbouring communities. From time, they responded in common to the natural conditions and problems of everyday life. Regardless of separate locations, the Ika people possess common homogeneous traits, which characterize them as one people who stand the possibility of enjoying a sense of common origin. Some of such major common characteristics of the Ika people are the use of one common language, ancestors, religion and blood relationship through intermarriages within these kingdoms. For example, Ika Kingdoms are bound together in nationhood by a common language, which influences their thoughts, religion, music, folkways, commerce, arts and social lives. This language is unique and distinct, and it is the very essence of Ikaness.
Ika has, from time, continued to attract attention in connection with their mode of living, because of their adaptability to, and keeping away from whatever, they cannot attain. The Ika do not exaggerate themselves, nde ka emekare onwewe. Ika are essentially friendly and peace loving people. As can be seen already, there are tales of several inter-tribal and external wars in which the Ika were involved in the olden days. According to Don Ohadike, in his book, Anioma, Ika communities were described as the most war-like of the Anioma Kingdoms, and for three or four centuries, they acted a bulwark against the expansion of Bini rule into Igboland, bearing the greatest burden resisting Edo military imperialism. In recent times, they have consistently recognized the fangs of oppression on them, but they have always employed peaceful means to tackle oppressive act.
The Ikas are well known for their hardwork, which dates back to the olden days. They are primarily great farmers, whose foods are savoured at tables across Nigeria. Ika are nowadays highly educated people, who constitute a considerable part of the nation’s workforce, make significant act in Nigerian politics, and have high-level manpower in all sectors of the Nigerian economy. They lay emphasis on both individual and collective initiatives and accomplishment. Whatever improves the individual’s and community’s status is acceptable to them. This is the key to their attitude towards innovation. The innovations among the Ika people are self-sponsored.
For instance, on the advent of the Western civilization, the Missionaries and Government opened schools and managed them, but the Ika built and owned them. It is in the same spirit with which colleges, markets, maternity centres, access and link roads, community halls, etc. are built. There is no village in Ika nation today, which cannot point with pride, to one or more of such amenities, as a result of their own collective efforts. Thus, the physical presence of these facilities is a source, for which the Ika people are prepared to pay in labour, materials and money. Such objectives are achieved through the family meetings and improved village or town Unions. This way, the Ika man or woman maintains his or her solidarity with the natal village, contributes to its welfare programmes, shapes its opinion on social and political questions. They are all a part of their community’s effort, a demonstration of the community’s achievement and a way of the to ‘get up’.
The Ika people have many other concepts of goodness that are almost peculiar to them. The reputation of the Ika as exemplars of high moral principles and religious sensitivity is high. The Ika are proud of their decency, good behaviour and, decorum carried through Colonial Nigeria to Delta. They are, generally truthful, bold, sincere, religious, morally upright, law abiding, and in a free country. For example, anybody moving, amongst the Ika is in the midst of a free people in a free country. It is not the habit of Ika to appear in the street armed to the teeth, but each goes about his business with the consciousness that there is peace and that he will not be molested. They are very hospitable and their spirit of accommodation is legendary, almost ready to give shelter and succour to all visitors and strangers.
The Ika people are united from time. In recent times, the apparent Ika divisive traits are best understood in the light of what the early Greek philosophers called ‘unity in diversity’. The personality of every member of Ika cultural society is established in the expression; Ika, Ika Kamma. ‘Ika Kamma is a recent cultural magic wand of Ika expression of unity. It is usually employed to unite as one person in repealing external aggression. Thus, when Ika, Ika Kamma is enthusiastically bellowed, the apparent Ika cultural differences vanish like a soap bubble. “Consequently, Ika people are united like Babel Tower one builders in pursuit of external enemy or in achievement of seemingly a difficult goal”.
What is more? “As our manners are simple, our luxuries are few.
Our manner of living is entirely plain as every Ika man tries to live within his means and eschews ostentation”. (To be continued)