The tragedy of the Igala race re-echoes, as Buhari continue to undermine it’s strength
The tragedy of the Igala race re-echoes, as Buhari continue to undermine it’s strength
By John Akubo
That the Igala nation has been relegated to the back seat both at the State and at the National levels is no longer news, what is wearisome is that recent actions of the Presidency indicate that the race is of no significance in the Nigerian equation.
With the demise of the minister of State for Labour and employment Barrister James Ocholi, the supposed 9th largest tribe in the country has no single minister, and there are still plans to fill the vacuum Ocholi left with some other person from another section of the State.
The senator representing Kogi East senatorial district who lost his seat at the Court of Appeal Abdulraman Abubakar is yet to have a replacement as the rerun election has remained inconclusive for eternity.
Again the Igalas were not represented in the recent ambassadorial nominees presented at the floor of the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari hence the Igalas are asking President Buhari to tell them their sins whether it was wrong to have voted en mass for him?
No wonder that the celebration to mark the third year anniversary of the ascension to the throne of his Royal Majesty Dr. Idakwo Micheal Ameh Oboni 11 the Atta Igala became another avenue to X-Ray the tragedy of the Igala race vis a vis its neglect in the Nigerian project.
It was like re-echoing of Senator Alex Kadiri’s satire at the burial of the late minister for State, Labour and employment Bar. Ocholi.
Kadiri who claimed to be Ocholi’s political Godfather had expressed the hope that his death will unite the race for progress and development.
“I know that the death of Ocholi shall bring peace and harmony to this land because we have been traumatised and battered.’
For the Igala nation he said its horizon had been doomed for quite sometime.
“When we had a minister for health before he settled down they said he embezzled money he lost out, we had the former Governor Prince Abubakar Audu at the verge of victory in the last Governorship election he died before he was declared.
“Here again a minister yet to settle down, traveling with his entire family they have all perished. This is the tragedy of our race.”
He lament on the tight corner the death of Ocholi has put the Igalas saying as things stood at the moment, “We are not in the scheme of things in our State, we are not in the scheme of things at the federal level and yet we claim to be the 9th largest ethnic group in the country.”
The Atta in his speech at the ceremony left no one in doubt about his grief as the chief mourner as he went down memory lane to recall another misfortune during the second republic.
He said another accomplished son of the soil in President Shehu Shagari cabinet Dr. Abubakar Usman, was also in the forefront of the exercise that brought in that government on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria(NPN) but at the end, Dr. Usman was “honoured” with the post of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
He pointed out that in the course of an official assignment to Sao Tome and Principe on a peace mission, his aircraft crashed into the sea and he perished in the service of the nation. ‘We lost a rare gem in that painful incident.’
Continuing thee royal father said in yet another disastrous outing, on 22nd November, 2015, Igala land was plunged into another sorrowful moment following the sudden demise of the former two-time governor of Kogi state, Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC candidate for the 2015 gubernatorial election.
“Prince Audu was in the forefront of the campaign for politics without bitterness. He was massively voted for in the elections and while people awaited his declaration as winner of that election the news of his death, like a bolt from the blues just filtered in. It was another tragic blow to the already battered psyche of the Igala people.
“In yet another tragic turn of events, one of our outstanding legal luminaries was cut down in his prime on 5th March, 2015 in an auto crash along Kaduna –Abuja road. ”
Like Dr. Usman the Royal father pointed out that Barrister Ocholi (SAN) was a major participant in the election that ushered President Muhammed Buhari into office in 2015.”
“He was a very loyal party man who had been with President Buhari through the CPC days to the formation of the alliance party, the APC during which period he made invaluable contributions to their merger.
“On assumption of office the APC government nominated him for a ministerial appointment. During the screening exercise he distinguished himself as an erudite scholar. In spite of his outstanding performance at the screening and against all expectations, he was only honored with the ubiquitous Minister of state portfolio in the Ministry of Labour and productivity.”
Atta’s grouse was not just the tragic loss of his sons and daughters but the need to use the occasion to take a critical look at the structural and political equation in Nigeria viz a viz the Igala nation.
For an ethnic group that was declared the ninth largest in Nigeria as early as 1963 during the national head count the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari in May 2015 as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria raised its hope in terms of accountability,justice, fair play and equity in its political history.
According to him, “The man Buhari has a track record of correcting the political, economic, social and primordial ills invested in segments of society, this new change mantra is what we believe will bring our nation out of the woods.
“The current change mantra of the Federal Government should focus more attention on Kogi state in general and the East senatorial District (Igala land) in particular. Whatever changes occur in the nation without adequately addressing the structural and socio-political deficiencies suffered in Igala land since the amalgamation of the country in 1914, will be grossly inadequate and an exercise in futility,.”
He used the avenue to appeal to all Igalas to come together and talk with a united voice as he invited the two warring parties in the conflict between the people of Odeke and Echenwo in Kogi state and those of Aguleri in Anambra state to find a lasting solution to the crisis adding that the solution is within and not without.
He blamed the colonial masters ignorance of the history and geographical configurations of the race to balkanised and dispersed it in to three provinces of Idah District that was merged with Onitsha province,
Ankpa District that was merged with Munchi province and Dekina District that formed part of Nasarawa province.
“In 1918 during the reign of Attah Oguche Akpa, these three Igala districts came back together as one unit and were merged with the Northern provinces but not without some damage.
“Some of our people were ignorantly left behind in the present day Enugu, Anambra, Nasarawa, Benue, Delta and Edo states thus drastically reducing the numerical strength of the Igala nation.”
Hence he indicated that the present size of the Igala people in Kogi East is a much reduced size compared to what the overall population of the Igala people should be in Nigeria..
“This singular act by the colonial masters and its acceptance by our frontline nationalists has been the main cause of our loss of strength and voice in national matters.
“The lack of the knowledge of the history of the Igala people by our past and present national leaders is the bane of our advancement as a people.”
According to him the Igala nation was at the forefront of diplomatic collaboration as early as 1841 indicating that, Attah Amocheje had signed a treaty with the British, twenty years before Lagos signed a treaty with them in 1861.
He reiterated that the Igala nation had been a very strong kingdom controlling commercial activities and navigation on the Niger River at Idah many years before the advent of the white man.
“The Igala nation fought and conquered many territories in its hay days and was one of the most established kingdoms in Sub Saharan Africa.”
The Royal father pointed out that the advent of states creation in Nigeria, added to the woes of the Igalas.
“The first state creation exercise in 1967 by the Gowon administration took us to Kwara state where we were mockingly referred to as Kwara overseas.
“In 1976, another state creation exercise by the Murtala regime took us to Benue state where we remained till 1991 when we were once again returned to the former Kabba province now renamed Kogi state.”
He said the the tossing up and down within the country has adversely affected the growth and development as a people.
Again during the military regime of President Ibrahim Babangida, he recalled that local government areas were created in the three senatorial districts of Kogi state when in spite of the numerical strength of the Igalas no local government area was created for them by the regime even though local government areas were created two times in both the West and Central senatorial Districts.
He explained further that Dekina local government now bears the inglorious appellation of the largest local government in Nigeria in terms of population and land size.
He also recalled how Dr. Steven Achema in 1998 contributed to the victory of President Olusegun Obasanjo and was rewarded with theubiquitous position of Senior Special Assistant to the president on labour matters.
“A few months later while on an official trip from Abuja to Lokoja to attend a party congress he was involved in an accident on the Murtala bridge and he died thus once more orchestrating our woes and losses.
“In 2007, late President Musa Yar’Ádua appointed Arch. (Chief) Gabriel Yakubu Adukwu as Minister of State for Health but inspite of his brilliant contribution he was removed within a very short time in his tenure as Minister on bogus corruption allegations.
“The then Attorney-General of the Federation, Hon. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) called on the Federal Government to tender unreserved apology to this elder statesman but many years after Chief Adukwu is yet to be compensated.”
The Royal father said his race would no longer accept to be treated with disdain in spite of its numerical strength.
“Let it be known to all Nigerians that we as a people reject this second fiddle positions being foisted on us in the affairs of our national life.
“It is on record that out of the over 50 federal ministries,parastatals, departments and agencies of the federal government, no Igala indigene is considered fit to head one despite our being ninth in terms of number going by the 1963 census. This is an appalling reality considering our major contributions to the growth of this country.”
According to him, “It is very distasteful for demographers to continue to underestimate Igala population. We are put at just between two and three million which is a gross under estimation. In reality the Igala people who are found in five states are above seven million.”
Flood disaster: Kogi braces for another round of misery
Flood disaster: Kogi braces for another round of misery
By John Akubo, Lokoja
Many victims of the 2012 flood disaster in Kogi State who are experiencing another round of displacement are apprehensive over a possible repeat of 2012 scenario, when many partås of the state and country were ravaged by floodwater.
As the ominous signs crystalise, the apprehension is palpable in the state because the tributaries of most small rivers in the northern axis, empty themselves into the River Niger and Benue at the confluence, in Lokoja.
At least 623, 690 displaced persons were accommodated in 87 camps across the state during the last flood disaster. And six years after, the continuous rise of water levels is forcing many residents that live close to the riverbanks to relocate as their houses are already submerged.
According to the Executive Secretary, Kogi State Emergency Management Agency, Alhassan Ayeggba, by the last count, about 45, 000 persons have been displaced, and are camped in various IDP camps across the state, aside from those who elected to put up with their relatives.
The absence of health facilities at the different camps, is already posing dire medical challenges to the IDPs who need medical attention. But matters recently got worse with the birth of three babies at the Koton Karfe IDP camp. Ayishat Zakeriya from Adamogu Community delivered a baby boy; Maryam Ishaq from Akpaku Village delivered a baby girl, and Sakinat Musa, also from Akpaku Village delivered another boy.
However, many in the state fear that the damage this year may be worse compared to that of 2012 should Camerounian authorities discharge water from the Lagdo dam.
At the moment, according to Ayegba, “the water level is 10.30 metres, and this has exceeded the normal level. The situation in Ibaji Local Council is worse as there are no high lands in the area, hence the people have been advised to move to the IDP Camp at Idah
The Secretary to the State Government Ayoade Arike Folashade, who was at the camp on a routine visit, donated food items, and cash to the victims and mothers of the newborn babies, as well as, commended them for the courage they displayed in the face of obvious challenge.
A youth leader at the camp, Abubakar Isah, appealed to the government to assist them as they have lost all their crops to the flood, while the meagre assistance they have received from public-spirited individuals “translates to a few bags of rice and cartons of Indomie Noodles.”
Seidu Akowe, a victim of 2012 flood disaster at the Lokoja IDP camp, was forced out of his home at midnight six years ago without picking any property. This time around, he said he moved to the IDP hostel in Lokoja when his house was overtaken by floods to avoid losing all his belongings.
Another victim, Hajia Meimuna Akawo, who recalled that in 2015, many organisations were showing support to displaced persons in camps, said this time around, apart from very few individuals, including the Commissioner for Environment, Sanusi Yahaya, who gave them two bags of rice and water tanks, the IDPs were starving.
She also said the sanitation situation has become deplorable, even as she fears the outbreak of an epidemic.
Lending credence to the people’s fears of a likelihood of the 2012 flooding, NEMA’s Director of Planning, Research and Forecasting, Mr. Vincent Owan, while on a recent visit to the state advised residents of flood plains to immediately move upland or to the state’s IDPs hostel at the Flood Estate, built by the Governor Idris Wada-administration.
According to him, “My first impression is that the flood situation is quite devastating for the fact that all the indices that manifested during the 2012 flood disaster are here with us today, except for the release of water from the Lagdo dam. Most of the people that have been affected by the flood today have been relocated to higher grounds particularly the IDP hostels at the former Governor Wada Flood Housing Estate.
“We are going collaborate extensively with Kogi State government to ensure that displaced persons are well catered for. I have communicated with the director general of NEMA, and very shortly you will feel the presence of the agency in the state,” the NEMA chief stated.
He also called on the state government to ensure that SEMA discharges its statutory function before seeking external help.
“When incidents like these happen, state governments just run cap-in-hand to the Federal Government for assistance, but the Federal Government wants to see what the state has done before calling for external support.
“Once the Federal Government sees what the state has done and the efforts put in place, it will say okay, having seen what has been done in the face of the challenge that you are facing, which is beyond your coping capacity, the Federal Government will then come in with full force to support you.
According to him, SEMA should never be the type of government agency that should be running around looking for operational vehicles to use when emergencies occur, “and that is why we call for functional state emergency agencies that are fully empowered to ensure that they carry out their statutory responsibilities.”
The Environment Commissioner, Yahaya, who noted that the water level was not receding, equally appealed to residents of “flood-prone areas to move to higher grounds immediately because we don’t know when the water from the Lagdo Dam would be released. When it is released the situation may be worse than the 2012 flood disaster.”
The Director of Engineering Hydrology, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA), Abuja, Clement Nze, who recently described the state as the “headquarters of flood in Nigeria,” said the meeting of two major rivers to form a confluence in the state makes the flood disaster in the state worse when it happens.
While on an assessment tour of areas so far affected by flood in the state, Nze said the state’s peculiar disposition was the reason why the agency was more interested in what is happening in Lokoja.
“We are measuring downstream of River Niger and River Benue and taking the reading there everyday to make comparisons with the past.
“On September 29, 2012 it was 12.84m and we have about three more weeks to September29, 2018. So, if the rise continues as it is going now, the situation might be worse. Yesterday, the difference between the water level to the highest in 2012 was 2.7m, today it has narrowed to 2.59m, tomorrow it might be 2.5m moving to meet up with the value of 2012 that was so critical 12.84m,” he said.
He recalled that in the Nigerian Meteorological Agency Seasonal Rainfall Predictions release in March this year, the agency said “that the earliest time rain will seize in the northern part of Nigeria, including Sokoto and Katsina is September 28, which means we still have about three weeks or thereabouts of rainfall, but in the southern coastal cities it would be around December.”
“Going by this record and most of the flooding that occur between July, August and September, the period of heavy rainfall in the northern parts of Nigeria is here. We are expecting that the rains will continue and the water levels will continue to rise.”
“The safety net that we have now is that Camerounian authorities have not released any water from the Lagdo dam yet,” he stated, adding that the flooding that has been taking place in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba are caused by water from rivers in Nigeria because there are many of them that are feeding into River Benue and River Niger.”
Called from the Guardian
CAN in Kogi joins national protest
CAN in Kogi joins national protest
The day of prayer and protest declared by the national the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) was observed in Kogi state yesterday.
Though the protests were marked in low key as it was restricted to each churche premises in the state, members displayed placards to express their displeasure with the ongoing killings across the country.
The leadership of CAN in the state had written to the blocks in the chapter on the mode that the protest was expected to take.
The Kogi state chairman of th body Bishop John Ibenu, told newsmen after the protest in his church in Lokoja, that the protests were peaceful in the state.
He however said there was the need for the federal government to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission over the menace of herdsmen attacks in the country.
Ibenu said, “It is a national day of prayer and protest, Christians don’t protest, if we have to that means the issues have reached the peak, we spent time to pray for the nation and Kogi state and also for the future, Kogi state CAN in obedience to the directive of national CAN observed the day in our church premises
“In the process of protesting we should also keep the peace and stability of the nation and that is why we said it must be within the church premises because we want to do the best that we can to bring down the tension number two we want governance to go beyond promises tp practicality.
“The killings have continued unabated and it has been taken to the church, there were no grasses for cattles to eat in the church when the Fulanis invaded the church and killed worshippers, so what has started on the farm came to the village and has entered the church.
“Government must act to make sure that this was not something aimed at the church but started in the farm, we are being proactive by calling for attention before it degenerate, we do not want to be pushed to a point where we will start using the pulpits to tell everyone to look for available arm to defend themselves”.
NAOS Election:Jacob emerges new President
NAOS Election:Jacob emerges new President
Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, a student of Kogi State University (KSU), an indigene of Mopa-Amuro Local Government Area of Kogi State, has been elected as the National President of the National Association of Okun Students (NAOS) 2017/2018 Session.
The election which was conducted during the National Association of Okun Students 2017/2018 National Convention on Sunday in Aiyekunle-Gbede, also produced other National Excos of the association in a free, fair and peaceful environment.
A statement by the Secretary of the Electoral Committee, 2017/2018 NAOS National Convention, in Lokoja, Comr. Prime Abubakar, said that the NAOS 2017/2018 National Convention was a huge success.
“As a law abiding citizens of Okun Nation, we followed due process as regards the earlier announced security threat alert from the Chief Security officer of Ijumu Local Govnment (Host Local Government).
“This caused a little set back as against the planned time for the Convention, as the Electoral Committee, The President and Senate President had to put in the necessary measures for a free, peaceful and fair Convention/Election Process.
“We appreciate all delegates who represented each Local Government Areas for their cooperation and resolution to remain Law abiding as they all exercised their fundamental right to cast their votes.
“Distinguish Naosites both at home and diaspora, permit me to introduce the 2017/2018 National Excos of Okun Students:
“National President- Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, From Mopa-Amuro Local Government and a Student of Kogi State University; National Senate President- Comr. Oloruntoba Mosses Juwon from Kabba/Bunu Local Government.
“National General Secretary- Comr Aiyenigba Mercy from Ijumu Local Government
“National Deputy Senate President – Comr. Leke Nihi also from Ijumu, a student of Federal University of Technology Minna.
“All other offices will be announced in due time just before their official inaguration”,
He appreciated the presence of all Past National Presidents and Senate Presidents, all representatives of National Youth Council of Nigeria, National Association of Kogi State Students, and all other stakeholders, who had ensured maximum decorum and due process was followed.
In his acceptance speech, the President-elect of NAOS, Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, said: “I must as an individual return all glory and thanks to God almighty for granting me the victory”.
Jacob expressed appreciation to His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, and the Speaker Kogi State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on youth Empowerment, Sports and Student’s Affairs- Hon. MD Eseyin, Hon Taufiq Isa, the Administrator of Ijumu LGA, who doubled as Kogi ALGON Chairman, other LG Administrators from Mopamuro, Yagba East, Yagba West and Kabba-Bunu respectively.
He also thanked all the royal fathers from Okun Land, for making sure they had an enabling and peaceful environment for a wonderful election amidst all forms of perceived security threats.
He added: “You all have proven that Just like Kogi State is a home of peace, Okunland will always remain a peaceful land.
“NAOS is an association which serves as the umbrella that covers positive benefiting interests of Okun students, as it is enshrined in her constitution. Hence, the protection of the objectives, mission and visions’ statements becomes highly paramount.
“I promise I will not be part of those sugar-coated mouth leaders who will promise heaven and earth, but yet will never make a move to fulfil any. I do not believe in promises that are obviously mirage.
“I have stated clearly in my manifestos that I am only bringing Positive Rebirth, Reformation and Redefinition into NAOS. We can be sure of having Accountability, Credibility, Transparency, and Fair representations achieved as well .
“NAOS is not a one man business and as such, it requires the efforts of all and sundries. Therefore, all hands must be on deck if we must give a positive rebirth, reformation and redefinition of her purpose of existence.
“I want to seize this opportunity to appreciate all NAOSITES and other stakeholders, who gave me their support and encouragement across the length and breath of the state during the course of this struggle.
“I want to leave you at the bench of being the judge to judge me by my activities and achievements at the course of the commencement of our administration immediately after inauguration.
“May I state it categorically that Okun students will always stand firm to protect the interest of the state in as much as it will accelerate the development and growth of the state.
“We are responsible students, we must always be ready to be responsive to the state just like the state must also become responsive to us at our point of needs.
“The unity and progress must and will always remain our chants”.
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