Basic Facts About Oko Town

Oko (Ana Oko) is an Igbo speaking town in south eastern Nigeria. It is one of the 16 major towns that make up the geo-political area called Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra state. Oko has five villages commonly referred to as EBENESE, and forty-five wards known as Umunna. The names of the villages are Ezioko, Eziabor, Okeani, Ihengwu and Ifite. It has the geographical coordinates of 6° 3′ 0″ North, 7° 06′ 0″ East. Oko is regarded as a citadel of learning due to the early embrace of western educations and establishment of first Polytechnic in the old Anambra (present Anambra, Enugu and part of Ebonyi) State in the town. It is also widely recognized because of its erosion site which has baffled geologists for many years and records have it that it is supposedly deeper than the Grand Canyon. The importance of Oko in the old Aguata Local Government Area (comprising Aguata, Orumba North and South) cannot be overemphasized when one notes that among the prominent sons of Aguata of colonial era inscribed on a marble wall within the Local Government secretariat, Oko has the highest number. These include the late Chiefs John Ifeakor, Ebenezer Otaluka( Aharinta), and Jerry Nwosu. The inscription is still there to date. Chief Otaluka was reputed to be the first person to own and drive a private car in the whole of Aguata Division. He was also said to have built the “first one story house” in the Division. His one story house has glass windows. People from far and near came to see this mansion of those days. Today a road he pioneered is named after him in Oko and is called Ezi-Ahari.

Origin

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Around the early twelfth century a man named IJIKALA was known to have founded Oko. He was a renowned farmer. In addition to farming, he was known to be a good hunter. He engaged in hunting mostly after planting season and before crops were ready for harvest. During these periods, food was usually scarce and there was always need to look for other food sources beside farm crops. His actual residence is still known within an area known as AMAIJIKALA along Ogulugu road, in Ezioko village.

Oko is particularly famous for several reasons;

  • It produced the first executive vice president of Nigeria in the person of His Excellency Chief(Dr.) Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme; the IDEOKO.
    • Oko is also renowned for its industrial sector. The first mechanized palm oil processing factory in Aguata District was established in Oko in 1927 by Chief John Ifeakor, behind the present St Peter’s Catholic Church and popularly known as Akwu-Igwe. Other industries exist.
    • Oko also hosts the first polytechnic in Anambra State, Nigeria; Federal polytechnic, Oko.

The traditional head is called The Igwe, Eze Ijikala. The present occupant of the stool is Professor Lazarus Edward Nnanyelu Ekwueme, Nnanyelugo Ogbonnaya Nwovuegbe, Ekwueme IV, Ozioko Eze Ijikala II. He is a Professor Emeritus of Music, University of Lagos. Oko Peoples Union (OPU) is a democratic body with full constituent powers charged with the responsibility of the day-to-day running and political administration of Oko. Chief (Dr.) Alex Ekwueme is the IDEOKO and the grand patron for life of OPU. Oko Peoples Forum can also be found on the Facebook. Oko was once the headquarters of the defunct Aho-Mili Local Government in the early nineties when it was carved out of Orumba North Local Government Area. Educationally, the town hosts a federal Polytechnic, many secondary and primary schools. The town has also produced many clergies including two Bishops.

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Also read: About : Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme

Politics

Oko has been a shining light in the politics of Nigeria. The first executive vice president of Nigeria, Chief (Dr) Alex. I. Ekwueme is a proud son of Okoland. He was the vice president to Alhaji Shehu Shagari under the auspices of National Party of Nigeria(NPN) from 1 October 1979 to 31 December 1983. Dr Alex Ekwueme and Alhaji Shehu Shagari won the presidential election for a second term that was to run from 1983 to 1987, but their administration was toppled in a military coup and replaced by Major-General Muhammad Buhari. It is on record that while many politicians were jailed for corruption reasons, Dr.Alex Ekwueme was declared by Uwaifo panel to be a man that went into politics and came out poorer than when he went in.

Oko has produced many other prominent politicians like Hon (Bar) Uchenna Okonkwo-Okom who made tremendous contributions in persuading the government to address the erosion menace in Oko and environs and was instrumental to the construction of Odo bridge and another road from Eke Nibo, through Umuawulu, to Awgbu. This road and bridge effectively linked Oko direct to Awka, the State Capital. He served as Chairman of various critical House Committees including Environment, Judiciary and Business, Privileges, Rules and Ethics. Finance and Appropriation, in Anambra House of representative between 2003 and 2007 Oko had before the Nigeria-Biafra war produced men of integrity who participated in Nigeria politics like Mazi O.O. Onyemaobim who was with the Zikist movement of the defunct National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroun NCNC in the Northern region of Nigeria,where he served as the Secretary for Benue and Plateau between 1961 and 1964.His political associates called him “The man with his mighty pen”. He also served as a Publicity Secretary to NCNC Central Provinces Working Committee. He served as Zonal leader Zikist Movement Central Provinces. He served as a chairman NCNC Jos

Health

There are many health clinics and hospitals in Oko that serve the health needs of the people, along with those of neighbouring communities. In the early 1970s and 1980s, Oko community Hospital was a specialist hospital of a sort, which served the town and various communities both far and near. Oko has produced many renowned medical personnels like Professor Cornelius Obumneme Ekwueme. He was appointed a professor of surgery by the University of Nigeria in 1976, and he is the first professor from the town. There are many others, as well as many nurses and medical technologists.

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Security

Oko is well secured with a police post centrally located beside Oko civic centre. There exists local vigilante security outfit in all the villages of Oko and these groups work with the police to ensure effective security for the community.

Roads and Public Utilities

Oko has good road network traversing the villages, and the major roads are tarred with asphalt. The major roads include the federal roads that run from Ekwulobia and Nanka through Oko to Umunze. There is a PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria) distribution sub station in Oko. There is also a functional well equipped Civic center and a postal agency.

Agriculture and Mineral Resources

 

Oko is well known for agriculture. Major food crops include yam, cassava, cocoyam, plantain, banana, and maize. There are several private mechanized fish and poultry farms. Oko is also rich in minerals such as Lime stones in form of gravels at Ugwudibia in Uhuene axis of Eziabor, and in form of kaolin chalk (Nzu) at Iyi-Benji in Ezioko, and Iyi-Agu in Okeani. In fact Oko erosion site was formally regarded as chalk valley (Mbuze Nzu) before it went out of hand. Local miner found occupation and means of livelihood mining the kaolin for commercial purposes. There is also a stream whose water has healing properties similar to the Soap Lake healing spa of USA. It is called Miri Nwucha. This means purifying water. This stream exists from time immemorial in an enclave called Iyi Ofuu in Ezioko Village

Commerce and Industry

The Eke Oko market is one of the largest markets in Orumba and it is popular for agricultural and manufactured products. There is also a daily market popularly known as OZU DAA. Eke is the most popular of the days in traditional Igbo week of 4-days; Nkwo, Eke, Orie, and Afor. Pal Breweries, makers of Pal beer and Royal Malt drinks is located in Oko town. Oko Youths Transport Company (OYTC) used to be the most popular and populous truck fleet in the whole of south eastern Nigerian with hundreds of trucks. Hospitality industry is not left behind as the town has two functional 3-star hotels; the Chalk Valley and Lincoln Hotels. Banks and community banks are springing up. Small scale industries abound. These include; bakeries, oil mills, agro industries, etc.

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Justice

Oko has produced many legal practitioners both at the bar and bench who have made their marks in their chosen fields. These include an Appeal Court Judge; Justice Mrs Angela Otaluka, the first American Lawyer(Litigator) Chukwukwelu Bartholomew Okonkwo both from the Ezioko Village in Oko and many others.

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Sports

Oko has produced various sporting individuals who went on to achieve national and international honours. Annual football competition among different amateur football clubs are usually held during the Christmas period. Winners are awarded cups sponsored by prominent indigenes of Oko. It must be noted that Late Chief Maurice Nwankwo Ezeudoye, first Team Manager (TM) of the then Enugu Rangers International football club of Nigeria, who travelled with the Enugu Rangers all over the world, hails from Ifite, Oko.

Airports close to Oko in Nigeria

In terms of proximity, the closest airport is Asaba International Airport which is about 60 km west from Oko. Others are Akanu Ibiam international Airport Enugu, located about 70 km north, Sam Mbakwe Airport Owerri, 71 km east, and Port Harcourt International Airport, 120 km south.

Closest Towns to Oko in Nigeria

Within the Orumba North structure, the closest towns bordering Oko are Ekwuluobia, 2 km, Amaokpala, 3 km, Ndiokolo, 3 km, Ndiowu, 4 km, Nanka, 5 km, Aguluezechukwu, 5 km and Awgbu, 7 km away from the heart of Oko.

Financial Institutions

There are many financial institutions in Oko like FCMB, Union Bank, Zenith bank, Intercontinental Bank etc. The indigenous financial institution in Okoland is Oko Community Bank Limited. Its ownership is community -based (domestic).

References

  • Oko Community Constitution, 1990. Oko Town, Orumba North Local Government, Anambra State, Nigeria
  • Oko 2008 Ifu-Olu Festival and Conferment of Honorary Chieftaincy Titles, 2008
  • Oko Town : [LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS IN ANAMBRA STATE] dated 21 July 2007; accessed 26 January 2011
  • Federal Polytechnic Oko
  • .wikipedia

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