Criminality in Anambra and Ebonyi Connection

By Jude Atupulazi

The trending news in Anambra today outside politics is the involvement of Ebonyi State indigenes in most criminal activities in Anambra State. The other day, of the about 12 suspected criminals arrested by the Anambra Vigilance Service, AVS, 10 were from Ebonyi State. But that was not an isolated case. Many other incidents before that one also had a preponderance of Ebonyi State indigenes behind them.

This has led to what looks like ethnic profiling against the people of Ebonyi State, a development that is quite sad indeed. It is sad because I know many people from Ebonyi who are on the level (genuine) and who are doing well in their chosen fields. Thus, when this kind of profiling is done against people from there, it doesn’t make me very happy, especially when such profiling can trigger ugly reprisals, owing to a misunderstanding of the entire matter.

Not surprisingly, the Ebonyi State Government has reacted to it, having obviously seen it as an attempt to cast a slur on its people.

This was contained in statement credited to the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon Jude Chikadibia Okpor, titled, ”We are Not Criminals, Ebonyi Warns Anambra over Negative Profiling in Viral Videos”.

The Ebonyi State Government warned against negatively profiling its people, describing it as an attempt to tarnish the corporate image of the state.

It called on the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, to rise up to the challenge, not only to protect the image of Ebonyi people but also the Igbo in general.

The Commissioner who stated this in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State Capital, noted that Ebonyi indigenes in all parts of the world were industrious, hardworking and law abiding people.

He strongly condemned the criminal activities involving Ebonyi People and maintained that the few hoodlums could not be used to generalize Ebonyi People as criminals.

Okpor also called on the Ohaneze Ndigbo to remain a leading umbrella of unity and progress in the Southeast Zone.

He said no Igbo man could attain the level of sainthood by tarnishing the image of his or her brother, but would summarily dent the collective image of the Igbo Nation.

Okpor enjoined the leadership of the group to use their influence in extending the content of their slogan of what he called, “Onye Aghana Nwanne ya”, in propagating the unity and oneness of the people of the zone.

The Commissioner further reassured Ohaneze Ndigbo of its government’s readiness to partner them to achieve the desired result.

It can thus be seen that the Ebonyi State Government does not find the whole thing funny at all and no one can blame them.

But then, the fact remains that many Ebonyi State indigenes are painting their people in bad light in Anambra State by their unwholesome activities.

It is these people too, who had flooded the ranks of the pro-Biafra agitators whose stock in trade was to unleash terror on the citizenry. Indeed, nobody can tolerate stranger elements coming to their place to unleash mayhem. The activities of these bad elements from Ebonyi State have become a great source of bother to peace loving citizens of Anambra State.

I’m however, greatly worried about the potential of this profiling spiraling into something unpalatable in the near future if not well handled. I have this misgiving because indigenes of other states also live and do business in Ebonyi State, including Anambra indigenes. Thus, in the event of any uprising here against Ebonyi people, one can expect a reprisal in Ebonyi against those whose people first struck the blow. The result will only lead to mutual hatred between the two Igbo sister states.

It wasn’t long ago when a group of women in Umunze protested against what they termed the menace of Ebonyi people in their community and demanded that they leave the community. This came on the heels of the attack by some Ebonyi people on an old woman whose body parts they cut for ritual purposes.

This should not be encouraged, given the ripple effect it could cause between the sister states. It therefore, behooves journalists and the police to show restraint when reporting crimes involving people from other states. Emphasis should not be on where the people hail from since where they hail from does not mitigate their crime. There should really be some toning down rather than using banner headlines whenever crimes involving a particular people are committed.

Another Look at ”Solution Football Club” for Anambra

I have read stories about the Anambra State Government’s plan to float a state team to be known as Solution Football Club. I hail the decision to float such as the state has been lagging behind in football in the country, despite having produced such wonderful players as Emma Okala, Dominic Ezeani, Nwabueze Nwankwo, Ken Abana, Nnamdi Anyafo, etc, of the old order; and latter stars like Kenneth Boardman, Ike Ofoje, Ifeanyi Onyedika, Herbert Anijekwu, and even the current FA boss, Chikelue Iloenyosi, etc. These players made Anambra proud in their days.

At a point Anambra had three top teams in the elite division of the Nigerian League, viz, Udoji United, Jasper United and Gabros International. In a particular year, Udoji and Jasper came first and second in the league. Two teams from same state!

Sadly, shortly after this, the state lost all of these teams and is today wandering in the wilderness of states without teams in the elite division.

You can now see why the decision of Gov Chukwuma Soludo to float a state team is being celebrated in soccer circles. But there’s one snag; a major one: the government has named the proposed club, Solution Football Club!

This name has not gone down well with genuine soccer lovers because of one thing: the political bent the project is taking.

We all know that Solution is the brand name Prof Chukwuma Soludo has adopted since assuming office as governor.

This choice of name will rob the proposed club of the general goodwill it would have enjoyed if it had been another name like “Anambra Warriors”; “Anambra United”; or even “Awka Rangers”.

But naming it after the governor is a no-no for a football club. Coming from a sitting governor, does it mean that another governor will rename it to answer his pet name? Would that not mean that the name will keep changing after every governor’s tenure? This is where and why the Anambra Government got it wrong.

I expect sports stakeholders in the state to prevail on him to immediately change the name. Enugu Rangers would have been named “Ukpabi Asika FC” if the then East Central State governor had chosen to be parochial or vain.

It is not an act of statesmanship to have facilities and edifices named after a serving public servant. It is better when such a person has left office. We all saw how Soludo announced that the International Conference Centre in Awka will be named after Willie Obiano, the former governor of the state. That is good, but it would have been  bad if Obiano had named it after himself before leaving office.

I therefore expect those close to Soludo to talk him out of this idea of naming the proposed state team after himself while in office. It just doesn’t make sense.

If Soludo wants a team to be named after him, he should float a team that’s clearly his private team. No one would quarrel with that, for, after all, we’ve had such individually owned teams like Udoji, Jasper, Gabros, Iwuanyanwu Nationale, Abiola Babes, etc. To date, no state owned team has been named after the governor or an individual, serving or past. Anambra should not be an exception, lest people knowledgeable in sports will ask if there are no stakeholders to advise the governor.

My position is purely based on appropriateness and nothing more. It’s never good for sports to be mired in politics, even if unknowingly.

Solution Football Club as the name of the proposed state team is not ideal and should not be allowed to stand.

I suspect that Soludo may not be aware of the implications of the name given to our proposed team. This is why stakeholders should step in and advise him. I’ve done mine here with this piece.

Meanwhile, thank you once again, Mr Governor, for planning to give us a football club once more. Hopefully, it will be the SOLUTION to our many years’ yearning to return to the apex of the nation’s football. But that SOLUTION must be appropriately applied.