The Ika Union of Great Britain (Historical Perspective)

British influence
has been exercised in Nigeria
since the end of the 19th Century and during World War 11, Nigerian
soldiers under the banner of the West African Frontier Force, fought mainly in Burma and India.

 

At the end of the
War, some Nigerian soldiers on their way home, stopped over in Britain and
settled there.  With the upsurge of trade
between Britain and Nigeria which began at the end of the War, British trade
ships began to visit Nigeria and other West African countries such as  the Gold coast (now Ghana) and the Sierra
Leone, carrying palm kernels, timber, cocoa and other raw materials to the  industrial midlands of Britain and some
Nigerian sailors who worked on these ships decided to settle in Britain,
especially in Liverpool or Southampton, instead of returning home to Nigeria or
to other West African countries.

 

With India gaining
its self-independence from Britain in 1947, many West African countries began
to agitate for Independence and to prepare themselves for the responsibility of
running their own affairs when the white man would leave their shores, many
Nigerians began to go to Britain to study in the hope of returning to their
native countries, with ?the golden fleece? like Jason in the Greek mythology.

 

Ten years later, in
1957, the year that the gold coast gained its independence and changed its name
to Ghana, a young Nigerian, the late Godwin Ebeigbe, from Igbanke, which was
then part of Ikaland, but now in Edo State, returned to Nigeria from Britain,
as one of the very first Nigerian Airline pilots who had been trained in the
United Kingdom, to fly some of the very first aircraft for the Nigerian
Airways. His rank was that of a Captain. The country did not gain its Independence until
October 1, 1960. Soon after this, one Mr. Okoh, returned from the United Kingdom, too, after studying at the
University in Exeter.
He was given a job as head of Administration at Radio Nigeria, later, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria,
(FRCN). He was based in Lagos.
Soon after, Mr Akwara Moses Meye Ottah who had studied Accountancy at Leeds College
and the late Dr. George Orewa also returned from the United Kingdom.

 

In London about
this time, were Ika sons namely, Michael Nosegbe (now Chief), Dr. Vital, his
younger brother, Frank Ogbekhile, the late Dr. Gabriel Okungbowa, his younger
brother, Dr. Patrick Okungbowa, Barrister Ohen, Barrister Onwuemezie, the late
Donald Okwuadi, the late Andrew Ebite, Lawrence Nosegbe, Michael Uwadia, Sunday
Nwokoro, Mr. Osagbobu and the late Vincent Egbarin, the Orikeze of Agbor, the
late Emmanuel Omoregie, John Ehikwe, Michael Akpenyi, Lawrence Morka, Philip
Ideh and the late Jonathan Omonedo.

 

As a result of
student activism, some of them were very active in Student Politics and aligned
themselves with the old political party, called the National Party of Nigeria
and the Cameroons, (NCNC), headed by the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe; it is not
unlikely that some of them also joined the rival party, the Action Group, headed
by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

 

The late Mr. Ekoku
, the late Mr. hart, were happily ensconced in the Liverpool area while
Engineer Michael Nwokoro and Mr. Odeh, were based in the Bristol Area which is
usually referred to, as the West Country.

 

At this time, Abort
Local Government was the home of the Ika people in Bender State.
The Ika people in London
knew one another and although they held meetings, these were not very regular.

 

However, in the
early 70s, an Ika son, Philip Ideh, was sent by the Federal Government of
Nigeria, to work at the Nigerian High commission in London; he was Second Secretary, Information
and Culture. He was approached by the late Chief Hezekiah Okoh who invited him
to attend the Ika Meeting; he would attend, bringing along Federal Government
calendars, Diaries and informative pamphlets and brochures produced by the
Federal Government. He was soon followed by Christopher Agidi who was also
posted to the High Commission from the Federal Ministry of Commerce in Lagos, as Head of the
Commercial Division of the High Commission. Jeffrey Efeyini, from Obi-Olihe Village
in Agbor, soon followed as the first Nigerian to set up the Union Bank in London, with the rank of
General-Manager. The Union went comatose for
sometime and the late Andrew Ebite, the late Chief Hezekiah Okoh, Lawrence
Morka, Michael Akpenyi and John Ohen,

got together to
revive the activities of the Union and to keep
it going. It was expanded to include Ika women, mostly wives of the male members
or Ika women married to non-Ika indigenes. After a lot of hiccups, the Union is now fairly steady with a growing membership and
an approved Constitution and an Executive that is highly focused and geared to
improving its membership drive and eager to enhance the welfare of its members.
The Ika Union is a non-political, cultural organisation with a serious
commitment to charitable causes, the development of Nigeria and the creation of
cultural awareness among Ika children in the Diaspora.

 

Politically, Ika
speakers are mainly found in two local government areas, Ika North-east and Ika
South Local Government Areas, both created in 1991 from a single Ika Local
Government area in Delta
State. The Ika North-east
Local Government Area with headquarters at Owa-Oyibu is made up of nine clans ?
Akumazi, Idumuesah, Igbodo, Mbiri, Otolokpo, Owa, Umunede, Mbiri, Ute-Ogbeje
and Ute-Okpu.

 

The Ika South Local
Government Area has its headquarters at Time-Obi and it is made up
of two clans ? Agbor and Abavo.

 

One of the natural
gifts of Ika people is their geo-locational situation. Ika nation is situated
in what is known as the rainforest region which lies between latitude 6.15oN
and longitude 6.12oE which is free from natural hazards, with an annual
rainfall of about 2,400mm and an estimated population of 346,251. Ikaland is
bounded on the east by the Aniochas, West by Benin, North by the Ishans and
South by the Ndokwas and the Urhobos.Footnote:

Mr.  Philip Ideh (Sr) was a former Deputy Director, Federal Ministry of
Information and National Orientation, Abuja, Nigeria.

Source:             Ika land And Its People by Ben
Nwanne, Lecture at the University
of Benin,

                            By Professor
Nwadiani

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