By Umoren Umoren
The National President of Ngba Ndiak Obolo, Enerien Apostle Samuel Ekah has described the publication Afigh Iwaad Ekid against the Paramount ruler of Ibeno, His Royal Majesty, Owong (Dr.) Effiong B. Archianga, (JP) on the claim that the paramount ruler proscribe Afigh Iwaah Ekid as the display of public ignorance on ancestral identity and brazen disrespect for sociocultural boundaries and constituted authority.
The president of Ngba Ndiak Obolo before describing the Afigh Iwaad Ekid as the display of public ignorance on ancestral identity, said the attention of Ngba Ndiak Obolo, a lead socio-cultural organisation was drawn to a publication in some local newspapers in the State accredited to members of Afigh Iwaad Ekid, who claimed to have written a petition to His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel over a meeting which the Paramount Ruler of Ibeno, His Royal Majesty, Owong (Dr.) Effiong B. Archianga, (JP), FCE, FCAI, FCIPDM, ALIMA, ALAMA, FIOGR, Akwaha Owong Ibeno, Udammung 1 of Ibeno-Land, held a fortnight ago at his Royal Palace.
A statement issued by the International President, Ngba Ndiak Obolo, Enerien Apostle Samuel Ekah states categorically, that the Palace of His Royal Majesty has not received any such alleged petition. Ngba Ndiak Obolo would have easily dismissed the whole publication as a ruse and the ranting of some shallow minded elements, who either do not know the full implications of their actions, or they are attempting to whip up unnecessary sentiments. It is to check the distortions and misinformation which the publication promotes, that Ngba Ndiak Obolo wishes to make the following points clear:
“The Paramount Ruler of Ibeno did not proscribe Afigh Iwaad Ekid in Ibeno land as claimed in the publication. It was brought to the notice of the Paramount Ruler of Ibeno that some youths of Ibeno origin have become members of Afigh Iwaad Ekid and the said Ibeno youths have gone ahead to open a branch office in Ibeno for the group, tagged “Afigh Iwaad Ekid Ibeno chapter”. The Paramount Ruler of Ibeno, His Royal Majesty, Owong (Dr.) Effiong B. Archianga, acting responsibly as the chief custodian of the tradition and culture of his people, admonished those Ibeno youths and strongly advised them against joining Afigh Iwaad Ekid. His Royal Majesty stated clearly that Ibeno is a distinct tribe of Obolo origin in Akwa Ibom State with no ancestral lineage with Eket, as Afigh Iwaad Ekid is a socio-cultural group for the youths of Eket origin or ethnicity.
The name ‘Iwaad Ekid’ means the youths of Ekid, or youths of Eket as it is most precisely known. The word sociocultural means a combination of society and culture. A society is a number of interdependent organisms of the same species, while culture is the learned behaviours that are shared by the members of a society, together with the material products of such behaviour. Sociocultural organizations are therefore formed out of a people who share not only the same origin, but cultural affinity, common ancestral or generational identity.
Afigh Iwaad Ekid, like any other sociocultural organization is predominantly the people of Eket origin. For years, Afigh Iwaad Ekid has been in the forefront of piloting the interests, aspirations and exclusive identity of the Ekets. For instance, the organisation has among its programme of activities, the celebration of Ekid Day, which the Eket people have been marking every December and Ekid Cultural Festival. The group plays a dominant role in the Coronation of the Paramount Ruler of Eket, to name just a few. These are activities whose preserve remain only of Eket. ‘Afigh Iwaad Ekid’ is strictly christened in a typical ‘Eket dialect’ and may be loosely translated in the common Ibibio language as ‘Afe Mkparawa Eket’. This portrays a distinctive dialectical variance with what is spoken by other tribes in Akwa Ibom State, including Ibeno tribe which speaks Ibeno dialect.
It is important at this point to note that Afigh Iwaad Ekid exists in Akwa Ibom State among such other sociocultural groups as Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, Essu Nlap Oro, Ati Annang, Nto Afe Annang, Oro Union and Ngba Ndiak Obolo. These are sociocultural organizations recognized by the State government and membership is strictly for indigenes. Among these recognized sociocultural organizations, the indigenous people of Ibeno and Eastern Obolo Local Government Areas, have Ngba Ndiak Obolo which is incorporated under Part C at the Corporate Affairs Commission with its certificate of incorporation”.
The statement contained that Ibeno shares no common ethnic, ancestral or generational identity with Eket. Just as Eket indigenes are not members of Ati Annang, or Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio or even Essu Nlap Oro, there is no way, Ibeno indigenes should be members of Afigh Iwaad Ekid, an organization majorly formed to pursue the aspirations and togetherness of the people of Eket.
Ibeno as a distinct people, with a unique culture, ancestry and a distinct local government area has several sociocultural organizations such as Esop Nnito Ibeno, Mpono Nnito Ibeno, Ulok Ulok People’s Assembly etc. They emphasized that these organizations work seamlessly and share commonalities in their drive to maintain peace among its people and create an enabling environment to maximize the enormous natural deposits which the Creator has abound within its environment. Furthermore, Ibeno is proud of its ethnic origin as Obolo people.
The release also explained that His Royal Majesty, the Paramount Ruler of Ibeno has worked assiduously since his ascension to the most revered Throne, to make sure that everyone in Ibeno enjoys his unique God’s given identity by appreciating his environment, maintaining peace, good neighbourliness, security and stability which invariably enhances the safety of the numberless multinational interests and concerns operating in Ibeno land. It is this peace and stability that stands most to be threatened by the invidious and inciting chicanery of some elements from Afigh Iwaad Ekid whose main aim in all of this is to serve their personal greed and vaunted ego. The statement warned Afigh Iwaad Ekid to operate within known socio-cultural boundaries and norms.
The statement made it clear, that Afigh Iwaad Ekid is not a political affiliation, so the uncivilized comparison to Federal Constituency is nothing but nonsensical and a display of public ignorance, adding that Ibeno shares the same Federal Constituency with Eket, Esit Eket and Onna by virtue of political division and geographical location; not a common ancestry, and definitely not cultural affiliation.
It says that, it is equally nonsensical to mention the Government Joint Labour Committee, a government committee that households the various Labour committees from the four local government areas and serves as a vehicle to interface with oil companies and their subsidiaries towards job placement and equitable opportunities for the teeming employable youths in the local government areas.
The release stated that, there is reason to regard with askance the audacious claim of this group. Ibeno and Eket are not known to have lain on a bed of roses, as the people of Eket have not failed at the slightest opportunities to lay claim to the ownership of Ibeno land and God’s given crude oil and natural resources. Ibeno youths joining Afigh Iwaad Ekid and opening a branch in Ibeno definitely holds promise of avoidable intra and inter-ethnic disharmony.
The release further stated that since Ibeno is a volatile environment, nothing is more paramount than to maintain the ambience and similitude of calm which encourage the numerous oil & gas, maritime, tourism and related activities in Ibeno. It is not debatable that Ibeno is where the revenue of the State comes from; almost all of it. The Paramount Ruler of Ibeno is preoccupied with making sure that his domain remains relevant as a financial support base of the State. Given the variables, this preoccupation is not mere.
The statement, while observing that the Paramount Ruler was quoted out of context, reiterates that Ibeno is a multicultural society, a status she has maintained right before the colonial days till date and Ibeno has continued to play host to people of various races from arround the world , and has earned an indisputable reputation as the most peaceful oil & gas producing community in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The statement further stated that there are several indigenous sociocultural groups from within Akwa Ibom State in Ibeno Local Government Area including Mboho Ndito Onna, Akpakip Oro, Essu Nlap Oro, Ati Annang, Afe Annang, among others, strictly for indigenes of those ethnic groups and not of Ibeno origin, and if Afigh Iwaad Ekid so wishes, it can establish a chapter in Ibeno, but should not enroll Ibeno indigenes into the group.
The release warns that no individual or group should further attempt to drag the reputable names of His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel and the Paramount Ruler of Ibeno, His Royal Majesty Owong (Dr.) Effiong Bassey Archianga, a two term Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Council of Chiefs, current President General of TROMPCON and Life Grand Patron of Ngba Ndiak Obolo to the mud, as the group will not hesitate to take drastically measures to protect the sanctity, eminence and dignity of her celebrated ethnic institutions and cultural values.