The study suggests that probably about 8000 BC, one group reached Nigeria by an overland route and settled at Ibom (Arochuku). And from this location, some of the Ibibio people spread to Abak, Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and other areas of what is known today as the mainland of Cross River State. Other Ibibio’s came to the mainland by sea. These include the Uruan, Oro, Ekid and Ibeno people. The split of the sub group (i.e. the Efik) from their Kinfolk, the Uruan, seemed to have started according to the study by about the 16th century. Talbot, suggested that the Efiks started to claim a separate identity by about 1600 AD.
It is on record that all the nations within the present Akwa Ibom claim their origin from Usak Edet or Usakhadi in Oron language.
The writer, James Abang drew implication from these early studies to the point that “one indisputable fact is that none of the subgroups – Annang, Oro, Efik, Ekid and Ibeno has been able to trace their origin before 7000 BC when the present settlement began”. Again, the population in his inference is the other truth value of this postulation. “The remarkable difference in population between the core Ibibio and the subgroups may be an indication that the nucleus of the Ibibio nation may have settled and multiplied for several generations before some of the subgroups riven and migrated to their present locations.
He concluded his suggestion by drawing similarities in language, culture, traditional values, deities and several other intertwined values associated with medieval societies.
Tracking all of these conversations into context, one can infer with some degree of certainty that these different nationalities in Akwa Ibom are united by blood and the same timeless values – culture, tradition, religion et cetera.
What is unusual here for me is that the Ibibio’s are not leveraging on these ancestral ties nor their numerical strength to provide leadership and forge a direction for the sub nationalities to follow.
The present day Ibibio people should not shy away from this responsibility of offering leadership in the state as precedence had already been set by our predecessors even before the idea of forming Akwa Esop ImaIsong Ibibio. Our fore parents constructively engaged the people of these sub nationalities as evidenced in the building of the Ibibio state Union, a premier secondary school East of the Niger, in Ikot Ekpene, an Annang ancestral land.
This indifference of the Ibibio race to lead and forge a path for Akwa Ibom is indeed an error defying global norm. The world for instance look up to the United States for direction on a number of issues that affects the global community. The America first initiative of Donald Trump, the U.S president is a good template of how to leverage on a plus for benefit. He has been able for instance, to leverage on the strength of the U.S military might and economy to force Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader to denuclearize. This abdication has allowed tension to brew, generating bad blood among the constituents with the seemingly disadvantaged group bearing the brunt of the vacuum in leadership.
Whereas aside etymology, numerical size is an added impetus to rationalize their authority to lead and fashion a path for the state to attain stability and development.
The Akwa Esop ImaIsong Ibibio which ordinarily should be the rallying point as well as citadel for shaping and emergence of leaders has gone comatose. There is no doubt that the body has inadvertently abdicated this crucial responsibility for reasons that may not be unconnected with power and money. The Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio which I think should be an affiliate of the Esop should leverage on her millennial bend to inject fresh blood into the umbrella Ibibio socio cultural institution.
But supporting this paradigm to the extent of making feasible impact requires strategy as well as implementation of specific tactics. The appropriate step going forward for me is for the managers of Akwa Esop ImaIsong Ibibio and its affiliates, to rebrand and reposition Ibibio on a path to greatness. A well-known and respected brand is an invaluable asset. Ibibio is a brand whose reputation must be nurtured and protected to attain equity. Aside the other beneficial element which is better reserved in the domain of marketing, equity in this context has to do with the image of the brand which is a function of how Ibibio as a people want, or prefer to be perceived by others. Positive positioning in this wise has to do with psycho re – engineering to gain favourable, strong and unique association with the brand. Supporting this paradigm for a new path requires guts and willpower on the part of the vanguards to push boundaries as the desperadoes who are in charge at the moment will not let go easily without a fight,
Now, given this vantage position of strength, the feasible way for Ibibio to proceed on this new paradigm is to engage other nationalities in the state substantially enough to earn their trust. They need to build bridges and have clear discussions on tangibles with people of these sub nationalities. A network of relationship has to be fashioned with the Oro, Annag, Edid and Ibeno people to earn their acceptance and followership.
The managers of the affairs of Ibibio people can now leverage on this landmark to put in place credible structure to serve as breeding ground as well as conduit for emerging leaders. The ethos arising from the culture and values of the people would aggregate to shape the character and communal identity of the would be leaders. Those involved in leadership must flow from these ancestral values – honesty, hard work, fear of God et cetera. A leader emerging from this process must have the moral compass that is rooted in the values of the Ibibio community. This social evolution that is driven by institutions which draws legitimacy from the people would shape the character and communal identity from where development would easily emerge.
I do not think from this hind knowledge that there is need for bickering or agitation towards self because they are essentially the same people by ancestry. The names of the nationalities should be for identity and not to stir up strife or unhealthy competition. The nomenclatures of the different nationalities in the state could be likened to a nucleus family where children of same parentage bear different maiden names but the same surname.
The critical conversation for instance on power sharing and other elementals of politics in the state would resolve the knotty issue and stabilize the polity.
This peace component is a vital synergy of this new paradigm which the state is in dare need of to progress development.
This indifference of the Ibibio race to lead and forge a path for Akwa Ibom is indeed an error defying global norm. This abdication has allowed tension to brew, generating bad blood among the constituents with the seemingly disadvantaged group bearing the brunt of the vacuum in leadership.
Published in edition, Lens Newspapers Vol. 1 No. 15.