It was the Austrian statesman count Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, the convener of the Congress of Vienna 1814-1815 who once cheekily described Italy as ” a mere geographical expression”. The venerable, though conservative, Count described Italy in that fashion because the land ‘was’ inhabited by a people with cacophonies of incomprehensible dialects. It was a bastion of ancient grievances and hate. The people had markedly differences in pace of development and cultures which became very glaring after Italian unification under Victor Emmanuel II in 1860. A Frenchman, Maxime du Camp, related in 1860 that teachers who were sent to Sicily in the southern part of Italy from the North were mistaken for English men by the local population! He overheard people in Naples shout “Long Live Italy!” and then ask what “Italy” meant. However, with relentless and purposeful leadership, Italy has been forged into one people, with standardized language, uniform culture and nationalism. Today the word, Italy or Italians means something. Where it used to be Sicilian, Neapolitan, Florentino, Venetian, Roman, Turino, Milano, Genoas etc, it is now Italian.
But what is the meaning of the term Idoma? Does it mean anything to us? Do we use it as a form of rallying cry when we are oppressed by external forces and jettison it for the purpose of self regulation or self government? Are we constrained by our varied dialects? Do we think in terms of our clans, towns, local governments instead of the Idoma nation?
Yes we do! Yes tis true we have differences in dialects but we will never mistake an Idoma man for an Igbo man! . We have never fought wars against each other. We have lived in peace since our foundation. We worshipped the same God. The same culture. The same language. Yet we are so disunited. It is why there is nothing like the Idoma interest or Agenda, only personal interest or agenda in the real sense of the word.
The task before us is one of unity. We need to unite. We need to change the way we think. It should shift from our clannish enclaves to the nation as a whole. We should begin to see one another as one instead of the geographical differences we espouse. To do this we need leaders who have the skills and abilities to do this. Who see above sectarian interest of a part to the interest of the whole. We need strong leaders who could forge a nation out of us. Chief Awolowo and his henchmen did it for the Yoruba in the 1940’s to 1963. The kicker is that the Yoruba people for more than 63 year precisely from 1830 to 1893 were at genocidal war of extinction against one another. It was therefore a tall order for Chief Awolowo to begin to seek to unite them some 50 years after that carnage but he did it. We need someone with the genius of Awolowo.For if we were united it would have been taboo for unseen hands to have instructed 30 out of 44 delegates in Okpokwu and all of Agatu delegates to break our lines and work against what we generally see as our interest. We need this unity like yesterday.
It is unfortunate that in these crops of leaders we have right now, I have not seen one who has risen to the occasion and taken the bull by the horn rather they fan the embers of disunity for political hay. Therefore to be formidable. To be taken seriously. To become a well oiled economical machine we must become cohesive. we must forge a common identity. We must be united. It can be done just as it was done in Italy. It can be done, the way Awolowo did it in Yorubaland. It can be done the way Joseph Tarka created a nation out of Tiv land that leaves them as the dominating force in Benue politics. It can be done. But we need to start from you and I then work on to a leader. Believe in the Idoma cause with not only your lips but with your might, capabilities and your pockets as well. We need to be committed to this. It is the only fatherland we have. It is the only place in the world where we will never be treated as second class citizens.
I wait for the day, we identify ourselves as Idoma first rather than as an Otukpo, Okpoga, Edumoga, Ichama, Owukpa, Orokam, Otukpa, Apa, Agila,Agila/Apa, Ulayi, Ijigbam, Utonkon, Igumale, Ekile, Amoke, Enumona,Ogodu,Awume,Ikpoke,Ogoli,Ogande,Ugofu,Ipolabakpa,Umonomi Iyaya,Okpiko,Agadagba,Oglewu Idekpa, Agatu etc.I wait for the day we revel in our Idoma identity. For in the larger scheme of things we are nothing without Idomaland. May Idoma land endures forever. God bless you all. Long life to His Royal Majesty the Agaba Idu. I wish you all a prosperous 2015.

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