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Igala Kingdom

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The Many Feathers in the New Ata Gala’s Okebe (Crown)
Igala kingdom was founded in the 9th century, the founder Abutu Eje came down from Kwararafa. Abutu Eje meaning Abutu the leopard, was a prince of Kwararafa kingdom who was denied the right to ascend his father’s throne left his father’s kingdom out of anger from the injustice done him to settled first in Otutubatu-Amagade along River Benue in where is known today as Ife-Abejukolo before moving to Idah with some of his children and followers to establish what is known today as ATA’GALA throne (the seat of power).
The kingdom stretched from Idah in present Kogi State to the North in Bida in Niger state and to the south Onitsha, Oko all in Anambra State, Asaba in Delta State and some part of Edo State. Okene,Lokoja,Koton-Karfe and Toto, Nasarawa, Karshi, Abaji in the present Federal Capital Territory including the entire Idoma land and Agatu and beyond.
The feathers here represent the number of challenges awaiting the new Ata to address very quickly and treated as urgent matters.
The new ATA, His Royal Majesty Idakwo Ameh Oboni was born in 1949; he was barely seven (7) years of age when his own father Ata Ameh Oboni died in 1956, Ata Dr. Aliyu Obaje succeeded Ameh Oboni as Ata from 1956 to 2012 spending more than half a century on throne.
During the reign of the immediate past Ata Dr. Aliyu Obaje, the predecessor of Ata Idakwo Ameh Oboni, Igala nation witnessed tremendous developments; peace, no war in Igala land, no epidemic, no natural disasters as such and no serious clashes between Igala and the neighbouring ethnic groups. Igala got many educational institutions established and located on her lands, federal polytechnic Idah, College of education Ankpa, University at Anyigba and a federal unity school at Ugwolawo, St.Charles College at Ankpa and many other secondary schools. Igala sons and daughters excelled in their various field of human endeavours, Hashim Adaji the first federal minister of Air force, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, a military colonel and a university reader was the first National Youths Service Corps, NYSC boss and a federal commissioner (minister) of education, Brig. Gen Umaru Anaja was a military administrator of plateau state, D.I.G. Isah Saidu Adejo was number two in the hierarchy of the Nigerian Police Force, Brig. Gen. Onoja Okemata, Col.Hassan Yakubu, who later became the Eje of Ankpa, Dr. Abubakar Usman ,an academic and a minister in the second republic, Igala also later produced four (4) governors and a military administrator namely ; Prince Abubakar Audu ,the first civilian Igala governor,Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, Capt. Idris Wada and Colonel Ahmed Usman respectively. Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi, became Chief of Defence Staff, AVM Isaac Alfa was also Chief of Air Staff.
Igala also produced a host of academics and scientist, Prof. Oyibo the US based scientist who propounded the GAGUT theory, Dr.Egene Adah a nuclear scientist, Prof Abalaka, Prof. Idachaba, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim SAN, the first senior advocate of Nigeria from Northern Nigeria, Engr. Maman Sule, the first Engineer from Northern Nigeria, Arch. Gabriel Yakubu Aduku, the first Architect from Northern Nigeria, Yakubu Mohammed, journalist and one of the founders of the first news magazine in Nigeria. And many other Igala men and women space could not allow us to list here.
Now, the new era is here, the new ATA is installed today (27th April,2013) and he is HRM Idakwo Ameh Oboni II, Okebe means crown in Igala language and that is what an Ata wears, beneath it are many feathers mostly dark red in colours. In this write up, we refer to them as challenges and we are going to take them one after the other.
Feather one, from the above introduction, you will learn that Igala land was very vast covering all the areas and places mentioned earlier, today the land is shrinking by day, gradually reducing to only Idah, Ankpa and Dekina. The new ATA should carefully look beyond these old three Igala divisions and reach out to the Igalas in other states and diaspora and see how they can be brought back to the main fold; what I mean by reaching out to other Igalas in other states is that Igala in places like Ebu in Delta State, Ete in Enugu State, Nzam, Udama and Onitsha in Anambra State, those in Edo State, Nasarawa State, Benue State, Niger State and Federal Capital Territory should not be left out whenever it comes to Igala cultural activities, they should always be offered with invitation and opportunities to attend and participate any time Igala holds any major festival. Talo, the yearly gathering of Igala race in Anyigba, the centre of Igala land should be re-organised and straightening and be made a good platform to drive this project.
The Ibaji area should be paramount on Ata agenda; in Ibaji, Igala have not only lost their lands and farmlands to flood but to their neighbours in the south, east and west. The Ata is the king and should know all his lands, boundaries and make his case at the appropriate quarters so that these issues can be resolved once and for all.
The next feather, there is no doubt that Igala peoples have witnessed development but the land still lacks in many basic amenities, NO LIGHT, we know that there is no stable public electric power anywhere in Nigeria today but let the Igala land enjoy at least the little others do. i.e. full and bright light is highly lacking, the entire Igala land should be connected to a strong national grid, the new Ata should take this upon himself to bring his children together in high places to achieve this. Roads and water should be constructed and extended to the rural areas in the land.
The third feather and most important one is reduction in over dependency on government in Igala land in terms of employment. The new Ata has a great role to play here, he is the Ata, the spiritual father of all Igala peoples, he should create a forum where all Igala sons and daughters everywhere can be reached, can be wooed and encouraged to come home and invest, establish businesses and industries that can benefit the entire Igala people. In fact, Igala Economic Summit Group IESG should be formed immediately to look into all these to harness Igala potentials. The IESG, should be made an annual event with committee to be made up of economists, businessmen, industrialists and academics of Igala extraction to brainstorm from time to time, to finding solutions and strategy towards developing the economic potentials in the land. Igala is blessed and endowed with a lot of mineral resources everywhere in Igala land, in Ankpa, there are huge and abundance coal resources, palm trees, orchards everywhere in Ibaji sugar cane plantation is in large commercial quantities untapped, crude oil and Itobe is blessed with huge deposits of kaolin and limestone, timber, fishery e.t.c.
The fourth feather and source of concern for all Igalas is the culture and heritage, these should be preserved. The new Ata should be ready to champion the cause of Igala cultural heritage. Igala History and Documentation Centre IHDC should be established where none exist. IHDC, should be a centre that contains historical documents, it could be laws, accounts of battles, relics of the past, where we can go to find out the meanings of things, name of things and how they came into existence e.t.c.
The fifth and the final feather is the issue of security and peace. We thank God that the issue of political thuggery and militancy is fast becoming a history in Igala land. However, this is another area that the new Ata should look forward to address and establishing a measure to curb future occurrences. Considering what is happening in other lands, the new Ata is advised to form immediately Igala Security Committee, ISC, to be headed by Ata himself with its members cutting across entire Igala land meeting regularly to address security issues.
WELCOME the new ATA Gabaidu, the king of the lions, long live His Royal Majesty, long live the Igala peoples, long live the Igala Nation.

Sani Baba Ahmad, Business Man writes from Abuja, Nigeria

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