Unveiling Igbanke’s Real Identity
Unveiling Igbanke’s Real Identity
Igbanke is a town in the east of Edo State. It is one of the largest towns in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of the state. The town shares common boundary with Agbor in Delta State.
Interestingly, the town, which is comprised of seven autonomous communities, was once referred to as the food basket of the state. At a time too, it was also the favourite of the then Bendel State.
As a thing of pride to the people of the town, it has produced both military and civilian leaders that have brought fame to the state. Today Igbanke has been totally neglected and rejected, though the indigenes do not speak Edo language. The indigenes are worried as their sons and daughters that should help attract the goodies of democracy to the area have been politically cowed. A good number of them, most people believe, have been bought over. Because of such nauseating selfishness, majority of them find it difficult to remember that there is need to reposition Igbanke.
As a matter of fact, the town unlike what it used to be, is presently used more or less as political battlefield by other ethnic groups in the state to perpetuate their political manouvering. Politicians from the area are so much engrossed in dirty ‘‘politricks’’ to the extent that they are consumed by the thought of graft to the detriment of the town.
A Warri-based businessman, who took a shot at the Upper House (Senate) in the last election, and was denied by ‘political kingmakers’ because he is from a ‘minority’ and not a (core) Benin-man, angrily asked: ‘‘Are we really brothers, as they claim?’’
This brings to the fore, the campaign of the youths who are clamouring that Igbanke be ceded to Delta State, since they enjoy health facilities among other public amenities from Delta State government instead of Edo.
From the way the relationship is degenerating, the message is getting clearer by the day that the ‘Binins’ may not integrate the Igbankes into the mainstream of Edo politics. But political analysts say the Binis pretend during politics but once politics is over, the Igbankes are tagged Ika-Delta Ibo.
The Igbanke people are perceived as brothers only when they can be use to perpetuate election rigging, exchange ballot boxes on their way to the collation centres among other crimes, says John Ede, a Benin-based political scientist.
He said, "historically, the indigenes of Igbanke were made to understand that the Edos are their brothers. They have common tradition.
"Yes, that was then. Today, the truth is gradually unfolding. The present generation is beginning to understand that they are not brothers after all. They are to be known and not to be heard. They have been used and dumped."
According to him, "Igbanke in all ramifications is denied every government infrastructure. They have no access road; no taxi goes into the town, except Okada apparently due to the bad road. In Igbanke there is no water; no functional hospital. The present government has neglected even the one that was built by the government of Ogbemudia."
The schools (both primary and secondary), he pointed out, are all in a dilapidated state, stressing that the peoples’ case is like a case of working in Railway Corporation and expecting to be paid by MTN.
He said they believed they are in Edo State but are ironically being catered for by Delta State government (education, health etc).
Corroborating, an Igbanke youth leader, Edobor Obuseh, said the youths are worried. They want to know where they belonged.
The titleholders - Enogies and the Obis who are supposed to be the fathers of the people are even more confused. They could not proffer any solution, since they do not have the opportunity to attend any meeting where the peoples’ welfare are discussed because they do not speak the language.
Regrettably, the powers that be in the state are not even helping matters; some of the youths that were involved in the ‘‘change of state’’ campaign were arraigned before the elders, and warned not to convene any meeting of such or champion such campaign again.
Unfortunately, those whom they looked upon to champion the cause have denied and severed their relationship with the town.
However, a source in Asaba, advised Igbanke youths to fight for their future.
His words: ‘’Now is the time for the youths to take their destiny in their own hands and face the challenge because Igbanke must be liberated. If not for this generation, it should, for the sake of the generations yet unborn."