Then & Now…
It was a cold morning on 19th October, 1896, some of the husbands and wives were already at the farm to check the crops that had been destroyed by the heavy rain that occurred so as to uproot and replant them, while the young ladies went to the stream to fetch water.
Some white men – Mr. Ralph F. Locke, District Commissioner and Acting Vice Consul accompanied by Major Campbell led by Chiefs of Abraka and Aragaba through Inam whose “Headman” and crowds of locales were soon to set their feet on Abe (Abbi) soil, a small town in Delta State; they marched quietly as though about to lay a siege on the village. As they passed from one hut to another, they saw groups of children in different directions playing ten-ten and open and close, women sweeping the compounds and washing clothes, they also saw palm wine tappers with their bikes dressed in gunnysacks, who out of fear stared at them while some female villagers spoke silently among each other. No one had a clue of what to do or say because it was their first time to see white men in the area.
Meanwhile, a female locale had already gone to inform some of the elders about the coming of the whitemen, “nnarim, m fu ni ndemaru bia ko ni i me Abbi, e chim buru oso ni m n’elo ndemo bai ko, anyi a mari si o no cha (my father I saw people coming to Abbi, I ran thinking they were spirits but later discovered they are just white men)”. “Anyi a nu wo nwa m onyeye udo na di ni i oo, n gwe je (we have heard you our daughter, peace go with you, you can leave now)” the elders told her as they dismissed her from their gathering.
On the 20th of October that same year, they signed a treaty with the then Onotuku – Chief of Abe (Abbi), known as Chief Idiomo and in the early morning of the following day, they left Abbi for other parts of the Ukwuani country. After they had spread their wings to all parts of the state, they implemented a new kind of administration, which was the British Colonial administration in 1905 (nine years after their entry into the Ukwuani country) through Delta State in place of the existing traditional rulership system known as Okpala-Uku.
Over the years, the administration in existence is that of the Nigerian government not just in Delta States but also in all other states of Nigeria, and this does not necessarily mean that the traditional rulers or ruling system in each state have been rendered powerless because it is through this system that the needs of the people and society can be passed across to the government. These traditional rulers or ruling system, therefore serves as a link between the people and the government – this kind of administration or system of governance was inspired by the colonial administration or way of ruling the people.