December 4, 2022

EZZA NATION: The sad trajectory of Ebonyi's predominant ethnic nation – Vanguard

  • November 15, 2021
  • 12 min read
EZZA NATION: The sad trajectory of Ebonyi's predominant ethnic nation – Vanguard

Since Nigeria’s return to democratic governance in 1999, actors and watchers of political events in Ebonyi State who genuinely love equity, fairness and justice have been pondering over the deliberate maneuverings that have left the Ezzas out in the occupation of any sensitive elective political position in the State outside of those within their immediate and traditional constituencies.
This is notwithstanding the fact that the clan remains the largest in the State with their people dwelling in eight out of the 13 Local Government Areas that make up the ‘Salt of the nation.’ With 22 notable communities dwelling across the entire three geo-political zones in Ebonyi, Ezza as an Igbo sub-group are collectively referred to by the singular name, Ezza/Ezaa or Ezza-Ezzekuna in reference to their progenitor and are also living in their numbers in some parts of Enugu, Benue in the North Central, Cross River State in the South-South and other parts of Nigeria.
In Ebonyi, the Ezzas reside and occupy two fully-created Local Government Areas comprising Ezza North and Ezza South respectively with a total of 31 Electoral wards, and another 8 out of the 16 Federal wards that make up Ishielu Local Government Area in the same Central part of the State. In other words, they have nearly 40 out of the 68 wards in Ebonyi central senatorial zone. 
They also reside in large numbers, in other communities such as Ezza-Effium in Ohaukwu Local Government Area in Ebonyi North, Ezza-Ezillo in Ishielu Local Government Area in Ebonyi Central, Abaomege and Ukawu in Onicha Local Government Area and some parts of Ishiagu communities in Ivo Local Government Area all in the Southern part of the State.
It is a fact that the Ezza ethnic nationality constitutes a large percentage of the voting population in the areas they dwell. Any wonder their Korri neighbours in Effium are desperate to deceitfully carve out some of the political wars belonging to Ezzas to themselves during the recent delineation exercise by the National Population Commission. The number of registered voters of Ezza descent in Effium is put at 32, 294(according to last election data available in INEC).
Despite these seeming obvious advantages, the Ezza man, wherever he finds himself in the Ebonyi State is serially marginalized in terms of being given equal opportunity to hold reasonable elective and even sensitive appointive positions that could impact his environment. It is therefore unarguable to conclude that the Ezzas are systematically emasculated and strangulated politically, socially, economically and most disturbingly, infrastructurally.
It is now on record that after two decades of return to democratic governance in Nigeria and even before, no Ezza son or daughter has ever been elected a Governor or Deputy, appointed into the Federal Executive Council either as a Minister or Special Adviser, appointed a Nigerian Ambassador or into any such juicy position as to enable him give account of his stewardship in terms of attracting any federal or even State presence to his community.
 Apart from the era of Senator Julius Ucha as Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly between 2003 to 2007, the Ezza man, despite his obvious advantages, has never been rallied around or supported to even occupy any sensitive seat in the State’s House of Assembly.
The deliberate manipulators often rather prefer to use them to move and second any controversial, anti-masses bills or motions at the detriment of the elected representatives, most times to pitch them against the people. The views expressed in certain quarters that they are a disorganized majority is nothing but an absurd stereotype which the schemers of the Ezza marginalization agenda uses to feather their own nests.
In extreme cases like in Onicha West State Constituency, Onicha Local Government Area in Ebonyi South which comprises of Abaomege, Ukawu, Ishinkwo and Oshiri communities, the later which constitutes a not-too-significant voting population have held sway in the State Constituency position since the return of democracy over and above their Abaomege, Ishinkwo and Ukawu neighbours made of nearly 90% Ezza population who has 17, 076 (approximately over 18000) registered voters going by official INEC data in the last election. The continued use of clannish blackmails, divide and rule politics and carrot and stick strategies in extreme cases by many political elites against the Ezza nation wherever they found themselves have become so glaring that it is now visible to the blind and audible to even the deaf!
 Ezzas: Industrious achievers in many sectors, suppressed by political merchants in Ebonyi, yet united in purpose
The fact that in Ezza nation lies enormous capacities and accomplishments can never be in doubt. As a matter of fact, it was credited to their intellectual sophistication that the ethnic group was the first to produce the first Doctoral Degree in Computer Science in West Africa in the person of Late Distinguished Senator Offia Nwali.
His elder brother in the same Ezza South Local Government Area, Senator Vincent Usulor also distinguished himself in the Red Chambers in the return of democratic governance before the era of Senator Julius Ali Ucha who headed the Senate Committee on works between 2007 and 2011 when he ran for the office of the Governor of Ebonyi State under the platform of the defunct ANPP and lost, albeit controversially. 
The era of Senator Ucha as Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly witnessed a harmonious working relationship with the Executive that made it impossible for the then-called ‘Abuja group’ to hijack the Legislative arm of government with a view to turning them against the Executive.
In other words, the Ezza man, in his touted ‘over-ambitiousness’ did not betray someone from the minority (Dr. Sam Egwu), due to the circumstantial political crisis then in order to usurp or take over his position. Even outsiders and the rest of Ebonyians hailed the resoluteness and tenacity of the Ezza-born leader not to be pushed to betray anyone in the quest to climb the political ladder.
But he, (Ucha), was later to be betrayed during his aspiration to succeed Dr. Egwu by the same group of persons he fought hard to ensure they were not disgraced or humiliated out of office by the contending Abuja forces. That was the second time the clan suffered such a bad fate with the first being the betrayal of Chief Nwagu Onele in his quest to become the pioneer Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party in the State.
But the Ezzas still moved on to show their political strengths and unity of purpose in 2011 when they revolted against the then ruling PDP to vote their sons seeking for elective positions under the platform of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP. 
Despite the many odds and forces that contended against them in the 2011 outing including the familiar attempt to use divide and rule against Ezzas by the leaders of the then PDP, the then opposition Party, ANPP showed such a massive strength that it produced two members of the State’s House of Assembly in the persons of Hon. Enyi C. Enyi and Hon. Joseph Nwaobashi who represented Ezza North West and East Constituencies respectively.
This was in addition to producing a member of the Federal House of Representatives in the person of Hon. Peter Edeh who represented Ezza North/Ishielu Federal Constituency between 2011- 2015. The rest, they typically say is now history!
It is on record also that wherever the Ezza man has been provided with an opportunity to serve, he has always stood himself out and maintained excellence and strong principles to doing the right thing.
The case of the appointment of the former Secretary to Ebonyi State Government, Professor Benard Odoh who it was clear ‘won’ the Senatorial election for Ebonyi Central in 2015 under the platform of APGA by Governor Umahi readily comes to mind. It is correct to say that the later intensely lobbied the former to become the engine room of his government not due to any other factor but as a result of his immensely demonstrated capacity in the various fields and sectors he had found himself.
Indeed, Odoh did not disappoint his fans, supporters and even his ancestors. 
He has since remained true to himself- a rare case you see in this present era of unprincipled men and ordinarily reputable academics running around every government of the day for crumbs.
Same eloquent testimony can be given of the Judiciary arm of government where an Ezza son, Justice Nwali Ngwuta who recently passed on a few days to his retirement so sternly distinguished himself that he had a meteoric rise to the nation’s apex Court by sheer hardwork and personal integrity. Nwali Nwguta, JSC, (may his soul, and indeed, all the faithfully departed rest in perfect peace) remained uncompromising right from his days in Ebonyi State Judiciary up to the Appellate and later, Supreme Court where he rose to become the second in hierarchy.
In the areas of business, academics, entertainments and other sectors of the economy, Ezza sons and daughters have also distinguished themselves, contributing their due quota to keep our beleaguered nation afloat. So, why begrudge or spite the Ezza man and his quest cum ambition to govern Ebonyi State or hold any such high office which they are constitutionally empowered to do so in Nigeria?
Why the nauseating ill-feeling that in 2023, electing or empowering the Ezza man who is not only the eldest in the Ekumenyi clan comprising the Abakaliki bloc but have always been a pillar of support to his fellow brothers and neighbours is the most dangerous thing to do? 
Why stereotyping of Ezzas, instigating wars against them and claiming they are the provocateurs should end forthwith
An Ezza proverb says that “ejo iwhe gbaa awaah, ya buru omelali” ( when evil persists, it becomes a tradition) or when you count one incident and add same to another, it becomes a bad precedence. For a people whose ancestors helped their neighbours and brothers fight to reclaim even lost territories from their enemies, the persistent attempt to hate and cast aspersions on them at the slightest provocation even when they should be pitied and protected is indeed asinine and senseless.
It started first, in January 2010 when the Ezzas who had dwelt in Ezillo, Ishielu Local Government Area of the State for ages were provoked into a Guerrilla war that claimed the lives of many of their sons and daughters while thousands were yet incarcerated by the Elechi government for allegedly sponsoring armed militia men against the Ezillo natives.
This was after claims that the disputation arose over a parcel of land now taken over by the Federal Government where someone wanted to mount an umbrella to begin a call centre then. Many lives of even innocent road users were lost to the mindless killings and reign of terror that characterized the war which lasted for several months leading to the intervention of the Nigerian government who eventually took possession of the disputed land areas.
The promise by Governor Umahi to have peace restored in the area and his boast to return Ezza settlers back to their Ezillo homes have remained unfulfilled till date and Ezzas who domiciled in different parts of Ezillo have remained fugitives in their own State and land without serious measures to ease their plights.
Yet, the Ezza people have relentlessly moved on despite the unprovoked hatred it has attracted from its brothers and neighbours. But they are persistently being stereotyped as war mongers who could magically wipe off other citizens of the State if and when given opportunity to serve in any reasonable capacity. 
Ten years after and precisely on January 22nd this year and still inching closer to an election season, Ezzas residing in Effium have become refugees after losing hundreds of their fellow brothers and sisters, women and children to another utterly unprovoked war from the Korri natives. 
Why Ezza nation must arise, unite and vie for political power to remain relevant in 2023
Even our ancestors who were reputable warriors must be terribly angry that the Ezza nation has since the return of democratic governance in 1999 been reduced to mere kolanut breakers in State and other official ceremonies as the eldest among the Umuekumenyi bloc. Most of our leaders have been serially used and abused by past administrations.
We parade the bests in many fields of human endeavour that can do well in governance and change the awful narratives and badges of stereotypes that we have circumstantially been forced on us by the haters and enemies of Ezza nation.
Where have our people who have held leadership positions not demonstrated courage and integrity? Is it in academics, business, politics, Law among others? Our deceased son and former second in command in the nation’s apex Court, Justice Nwali Ngwuta was not only cerebral but was propelled to the enviable position due to his integrity, courage and hardwork. 
Similarly, another reputable Ezza son, Justice Alloy Nweke Nwankwo who was appointed a substantive Judge of Ebonyi State High Court in 2003 meritoriously retired from the services of the Ebonyi State judiciary in 2019, leaving with him long trails of outstanding achievements in the system.
Through his trademarks of humility, self discipline, diligence and positive courage, the judiciary was indeed placed above parochial interest to serve all manner of people without fear or favour. It is on record that Justice Nwankwo during his time of service strengthened the State’s judiciary to serve unadulterated justice to every person at all times without fear or favour.
He equally ventilated the judicial space by creating more judicial divisions and magisterial districts to curb congestions both in the courts and in the prisons; and to ensure speedy delivery of justice. Same he equally meted out to the Nigerian Bar Association in Ebonyi State by facilitating both the creation and take-off of Nigerian Bar Association, Onueke branch.
Therefore, our people must not be deterred but unite to forge a common front in 2023 and  contest for any and every available political office in Ebonyi and even beyond- Presidency, Governorship, Deputy Governorship, National and State Assembly positions. Ezzas are known for their unity and one voice even in politics and there is no greater time this should manifest than in 2023 politics and election. We have done it before in 2011 and we can do it again and even better in 2023!
Rev.Dr. Justin Ezeugo, a commentator on major political issues, wrote from Houston Texas, US.



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