From PAUL OSUYI, Asaba
Oko-Anala, a coastal community along the bank of River Niger, was one of the several communities in Delta State that was devastated by the recent flooding that ravaged about 14 states of the federation. The agrarian community in Oshimili South Local Government Area of the state lost almost everything. Tales, coming from there at the time were sympathetic although the disaster that befell the people was cushioned with the provision of resettlement camps by the state government and the subsequent donation of relief materials by philanthropic individuals, corporate organisations and donor agencies.
But the sorrow and tears of the period seemed to have subsided few weeks after the affected people returned to their ancestral homes.
The agrarian population seemed to have put the travails behind and burst into life in earnest, a situation that was evident at the official presentation of staff of office to the traditional ruler in the area, HRM, Engr. Eze Osita I, the Akor of Oko-Anala Kingdom, by the state government. The event, which took place at the palace of the Akor on Saturday December 29, 2012, was performed by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Amos Utuama, amidst pomp and pageantry that characterised the yuletide.
The joy of the community was further compounded by the fact that for over thirteen years, it has been without an Akor (king) following that death of the then incumbent, HRM, Obi Oputa I. The new Akor, according to community sources, was coronated in March 2011 by the kingmakers. Spokesman for the community, Chuks Obusom stated that the choice of Eze Osita as the new Akor of the kingdom was not by accident, saying: “With his wealth of experience as an Engineer and astute administrator of over 30 years in federal civil service, of which over 10 years was in managerial and administrative capacities, coupled with his understanding of the native law and custom of Oko community, the kingmakers were convinced that a Solomon has come to the throne. “To his credit, since he assumed the Akorship position, the protracted communal disputes have been resolved not just in Oko-Anala alone but even inter-village disputes in Oko community. Today we are all living in peace and unity, courtesy of this Wise King, the Akor-in-Council and his board of advisers. This occasion will no doubt be a booster for the continuation of his bridge-building, peaceful, progressive and united Oko community.” While thanking the state government for the quick response to plight of the natives in the area during the flood disaster, Obusom stressed the need for the integration of the entire Oko community with the neighbouring state capital, Asaba as well as the opening up of the area to boost economic activities. “We appeal that the state government passionately look into the construction of the 28km Oko community road from the Asaba-Onitsha express road to Oko community with a view to implementing the promise to the entire Oko community on our visit on October 2, 2012 at Government House, Asaba,” he pleaded. Obusom who also called for a lasting solution to the teething problem of flooding in the community, implored the government to declare a state of emergency on social amenities in the area with a view to addressing the poor state of educational, health and power infrastructures. But it became a game of plea as the state government represented by the deputy governor, Prof. Amos Utuama tasked the new Akor (King) to give priority attention to matters of security in his domain and work closely with the law enforcement agencies and local government to ensure that the prevailing peace in the area was sustained. The deputy governor, who did not make any policy statement about the requests of the area, congratulated the new king and commended the entire community for being able to pass through the trying period created by the last flooding, saying that he was encouraged by the progress the people had so far made in settling down. He appealed to Engr. Eze Osita I to place the interest of the majority of his people and the fear of God above all considerations, noting that the state government would continue to rely on traditional institutions across the state as vehicles for reaching the people at the grassroots.