Nigeria and the Life After
By Garba Shehu
In Nigeria, my country of close to 200 million people, the COVID-19 lockdown began on March 30 in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). As with nations the world over we are following the advice of a scientifically-led national action plan to halt and then defeat the spread of the virus by staying at home to save lives.
With hindsight, it is clear there is no country anywhere on earth that was as ready as could now be hoped. But fortunately, since the election of 2015 – when for the first time in history power changed hands between an incumbent president and challenger at the ballot box – our now twice democratically elected administration has spent five years rebuilding governance after decades of political corruption under an effective one party state.
When President Buhari was first elected in April of that year, Nigeria and the world was reeling at the news that 276 mostly Christian schoolgirls had been kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The previous administration had done next to nothing to try to find them. The then president had even delayed for weeks before acknowledging they were missing.
We soon discovered why: tens of thousands of “ghost” soldiers on the military payroll. Many of those allegedly fighting at the front simply did not exist. The previous government claimed to be waging war against terrorists – but was in truth waging financial fraud against its own people and threatening their security through the corrupt theft of salaries of non-existent soldiers.
Today, the majority of the Chibok girls are now returned to their families. Boko Haram is fractured, desperate and in retreat. Our military is rebuilt, and previous partnerships with the British and American militaries that had seen those countries place defence equipment export bans upon previous Nigerian administrations are lifted.
In government, President Buhari has waged an effective war on corruption, with some 60 per cent of the general public personally experiencing its rapid decline – in testament to the administration’s zeal. And earlier this year some USD 300 million in funds looted under a previous regime was finally returned to Nigeria from banks in the US and the UK (Jersey Islands) and all of that money is being channeled into infrastructure financing.
In December 2017, the Federal Government signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Switzerland on the return and monitoring of the $322 million Abacha loot. This money is being used to fund the Social Investment Programmes, including the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) that began in December 2016. Under the CCT scheme the President had promised to assist one million poor and most vulnerable Nigerians with a monthly stipend of N5,000 each.
These funds are now being distributed directly to individual citizens mostly in need during the coronavirus pandemic and to allow for a three month moratorium on loan repayments by farmers and small businesses granted through government schemes.
Repatriated funds can also be used to boost our health spending – which was already expanding year-on-year for the last five years – for the purchase of test equipment, ventilators, masks and protective clothing.
This would simply not have happened under previous administrations – because all Nigerians know from our personal experiences of living under them that the levels of corruption, social strife and distrust in governance they created would have made that impossible.
The fact that it is today under a President who is a Muslim, his Vice, an evangelical Christian pastor, and their cabinet equally balanced between Christians and Muslims does not go unnoticed in Nigeria.
But it is less known externally – which is why individuals who supported previous, corrupt governments seek to use the cover of the coronavirus pandemic as their opportunity to wage a fake news war against the country at this time.
They insinuate to further their false claims that a President who writes for the Church Times and Christianity Today and enjoys a personal friendship with the Archbishop of Canterbury is anti-Christian, and that the same President who call for stronger trading alliances between Commonwealth nations and signs bilateral trade and military agreements with Britain is somehow anti Britain and the West.
They insinuate that Boko Haram’s terrorist attacks on Christians are somehow the government’s doing; that health spending is somehow declining – when it is in fact increasing after they pilfered the system for decades; and that it is this government that created corruption – when in fact the general public themselves make it clear that it is this twice-democratically elected administration that is finally addressing this stain on our governance and society.
To a large degree, many of those Nigerian names writing to conservatives in the UK and the US are just going round making money off the back of lies.
There is a difference between opinion and fact. Everyone is entitled to express the former, The latter can, of course, be questioned: but it does not then change that it is still a fact.
We can only imagine the untruths that would today be peddled to the Nigerian people and the world beyond our borders during this coronavirus pandemic had previous administrations – or those packed with their heirs – had been in charge. We can only give thanks to the wisdom of Nigerian voters that they are not.
When this worldwide health emergency is defeated, we must look to each other to rebuild the global economy – and look to strengthen partnerships that work. Nigeria is ready to take a more forthright role in the Commonwealth and global economic system as a whole. But today we can only do so because the very thing that allows us to fight the virus at all is a better government, which for the first time in Nigeria’s history is both truly representative of our country’s two great religions and shorn of the limitless corruption of our predecessors.
Garba Shehu is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.
Abuja, April 5, 2020
Airports for Concession, Not Privatisation
The Honourable Minister of State for Aviation has recently briefed the public and industry stakeholders of government plans to concede certain airports to private investors as part of larger plans to privatise some public enterprises. Following the Honourable Minister’s briefings, there have been some emotional reactions from the public and more too from aviation stakeholders who ordinarily should be better informed of what has, over the years, been the financial travails of the sector but yet find the government plans of airport concession unacceptable.
The government probably decided on concession and privatisation or outright sale because of the failed commercialisation of most public sector services and enterprises. There were public enterprises that were fully commercialised like the NLG and the refineries which were expected to operate as profit-making commercial ventures without any subsidies from the government. These are expected to raise funds from the capital market for capital projects without a government guarantee and were expected to use private-sector procedures in running their businesses.
There were other enterprises like FAAN and NAMA which were partially commercialised and were expected to cover their operational costs from their internally generated revenues (IGR). This category of enterprises enjoyed grants from the government to finance their capital projects, just as the federal government had done in the past for them with the ₦19.5 billion aviation intervention fund in 2007, the grant of about $200 million from the BASA fund for the refurbishment of some airports, and the $500 million loan from China for the redevelopment of the major international airports.
Using the air traffic and passenger traffic statistics of 2014-15, the expected yearly revenue from FAAN in particular, whose facilities are planned for concession, is reported to be about N65 billion from both aeronautical (N61.5 billion) and non-aeronautical (N4.5 billion) sources. However, the chunks of revenue earnings generated have not substantially impacted on the airport infrastructures and services. For instance MMA alone that is reported to be generating about ₦2 billion monthly is worth more than ₦3 billion monthly or ₦36 billion ($100 million annually) in earnings from passenger service charge aircraft landing and parking, on both international and domestic traffic and various concession on non aeronautical services within and around the airport. Unfortunately, the airport does enjoy up to 5% of the revenue for the periodic maintenance of the airport infrastructure and services. If MMA is given out for concession today in the global market, it could generate conservatively about ₦110 billion ($300 milliom). Today the total IGR earnings on the twenty international airports is less than ₦70 billion ($190 million).
The problems of government enterprises in the sector are largely caused by the incessant huge debts of the domestic airline operators to the public operators and weak accountability of the regulator particularly of the NCAA, which has the critical role to play in checking the excesses of both the airlines’ operators and the public operators FAAN and NAMA.
The Nigerian aviation sector is just one of the three major means of transportation, providing air transport services to less than 10 million Nigerians, compared to the road and rail providing transportation services for over 60 million Nigerians annually. Air services enjoy government patronage the most, with various forms of intervention, grants, and guaranteed loans. All these are in addition to the huge revenues generated that have not significantly developed or improved the airports’ infrastructure and facilities for sustaining safe air operations. There has been no efficient and effective oversight by the responsible authority to ensure that the sector in the last sixteen years complied with a five-year budget plan as required by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations 2006, Part 18.10.5.
What has developed over the years in the industry is a mixed system, one of partial commercialisation, where the government injects subsidies or intervention funds into the public enterprises, and full commercialisation, where the government gives autonomy to some public enterprises in the sector. What the government plans to develop now, and what is developing worldwide, is privatisation and concession, where the government extends partnerships to private enterprises and investors to develop the sector. This is a concept that is being adopted by most developing countries whose aviation infrastructures are expanding fast but whose development funds are limited, as with our own case. Most countries are finding it a positive advantage to adopt the policies of public-private partnership (PPP), full commercialisation, and concession of public enterprises. These options offer government savings for other social sectors of the economy and reduce unnecessary costs and duplication of efforts.
Privatisation or outright sale of public enterprises to private investors in Nigeria, as articulated by a Social group in 1988 as part of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), could be emotive and controversial “Privatisation is a means of exposing public enterprises to private investors or bringing private ownership, control and management into public enterprises. The objective is to increase productivity and efficiency, and to improving the financial health of the public enterprises with sufficient savings for the government from the suspended government subsidies.”
Broadly defined, privatisation could include concession and all forms of PPP; but if narrowly defined, it would exclude concession and could mean outright sales. However, whatever definition is being applied, the objective is securing private investors’ management and operational expertise and investment, Similar to the MM2 concession to Bi-Courtney.
It still seems to some stakeholders that the concession of MM2 was shrouded in some kind of executive secrecy. The government, therefore, needs to assure stakeholders that the planned concession is with better intentions. Generally, there are three key features of a concession. Firstly, it does not involve the sale or transfer of ownership of physical assets, only the right to use the assets and operate the enterprise. Secondly, agreements are for a limited period of time, up to or less than thirty years depending on the context, content, and sector. Thirdly, the government, the owner of the assets must retain much involvement on the oversight in the concession through regulatory agencies.
It is expected that whatever the government would give out for concession would be well defined along these three features in order to avoid the pitfalls of past attempts. The government must bear in mind existing agreements or concessions with the Chinese government on the development of the four airports of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, and Kano, ditto with similar agreements with Bi-Courtney. The government must also be mindful of the fact that about twelve out of about twenty federal airports are joint users with the military, these include the international airports.
The government should be very clear in its plan as to what assets or infrastructure it would give for concession without disrupting the agreements with existing private operators and joint-users arrangements with the military. The plan for airport concession now should not include those aeronautical infrastructures, facilities, and systems that are necessary and critical for the conduct of flight operations, rescue operations, emergency management services, airport security systems, and national security. These are the state’s responsibility and mandatory obligatory functions to the ICAO as contained in various annexes to the Chicago Convention, essentially on aerodrome standards, air traffic control services, and airport security and so on. All these could be fully commercialized, as they are the practices elsewhere. The concession, on the other hand, should not be different from the one between the government and Bi-Courtney, and essentially for non-aeronautical infrastructural facilities and services which includes operations and management of the passenger, cargo terminal buildings and the handling facilities; aircraft parking areas with handling facilities, car, trucks, parks and toll gates.
All aeronautical facilities that are left in FAAN’s assets after the concession of non-aeronautical facilities could be merged with NAMA assets. Runways, taxiways and their associated lighting, and emergency and rescue management systems could remain part of the universal air traffic services systems. NAMA could, therefore, be fully commercialised like the ATNS of South Africa. FAAN, on the other hand, should function as a commercial holding company to oversee the management of the airports under concession.
The government should ensure that future management of the remaining domestic airports is included in the concession plans. In other words, none of these domestic airports should be left behind; otherwise, the initial reasons for the concession would be defeated. Therefore, for every international airport terminal available for concession to a company, three to four of the domestic airports should be given along with the concession.
The concession of airports, like that of the seaports in 2006, will increase capacity, invariably increasing air, passenger, and cargo traffic. It will reduce budget allocations to airports and increase revenue generation. The ports’ concession increased the capacity by over 300%; the cargo has increased from 7 million tons to about 25 million tons, and it has reduced budget allocations but has increased port revenue generation.
In addition to all these, the government should concern itself with the designing of achievable policies and programmes that would enable it to meet contemporary visions for the industry in this twenty-first century. Such policies should ensure that the responsible aviation authority provides the baseline for implementation of the concession, and the investors provide regular business plans every five years to meet the requirements of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, 2006, Part 18.10.5. The first-line approach is to ask: has the NCAA been ensuring that Bi-Courtney Airport Services complied regularly with the NCAR provision?
(Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) is an Aviation Security Consultant and Secretary General of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative)
This opinion article was written in May, 2016.
Who Is Afraid Of The Middle Belt?
By Obadiah Mailafia
Last week a bill was presented to the House of Representatives, entitled “Geo-political Zones of the Federation Bill 2020”. It was sponsored by Kpam Sokpo (PDP, Benue). It aims essentially to enshrine the Six Geopolitical Zones in our Constitution, with “North Central” being renamed “Middle Belt”.
The Six Geopolitical Zones were first proposed by the late Chief Alex Ekwueme and were accepted by the Abacha junta for the purpose of allocating positions and preferments by the Federal Government. They were an arbitrary creation, in the sense that the area that forms the core Middle Belt was designated as “North Central”. This means that the Old North was left intact for purposes of administrative reference. All sorts of abuses and discriminatory practices have been visited upon us under an Apartheid North.
The Middle Belt is both a geographical expression as well as a political identity. It is also a state of mind. Like the English constitution, the Middle Belt exists in the hearts and minds of the Middle Belt peoples.
Everyone that feels and knows he or she is Middle Belter, such a one belongs to the Middle Belt. A Middle Belter is anyone who was historically never defeated by the Fulani Jihad. We are who we are because we were never defeated by the Fulani Jihad. A Middle Belter is also anyone who does not subscribe to Caliphate ideology and the hegemony of the Fulani-dominated emirate system. Thirdly, a Middle Belter is anyone in the former North who does not wish to live under Sharia.
The Middle Belt geographically encapsulates the area normally referred to as “North Central”. But it is much more than that. It extends from Southern Borno to Southern Adamawa, Southern Bauchi, Southern Gombe, Southern Yobe, Southern Kaduna and Southern Kebbi.
The peoples of the Middle Belt are also defined by history. We had one of the greatest civilisations that ever flourished in ancient Africa, namely: the Nok civilisation that was older than Benin and older than Ile-Ife. From what we know of its artefacts, the people had spiritual and cultural linkages to the Egypt of the Pharaohs. The successor to the ancient Nok culture was the great Kwararafa Kingdom that is today symbolised by the Aku Uka of Jukun land. The Kwararafa ruled Kano and many parts of Hausa land for more than 200 years. The small size of their population did not allow them to impose their hegemony over their conquered subjects. But their historical role is one of the pillars in the construction of modern Middle Belt identity politics.
The area comprising the Middle Belt today has a landmass of 300,000 square km, with an estimated population of 40 million peoples. It is the largest of any region, with the most fertile farmlands and the highest endowments in terms of minerals and natural resources. The Middle Belt is an ethnic federation of over a hundred ethnic communities. We are a tolerant and accommodating people. Our moral conscience is shaped by Christianity and the humane traditions of ancient Africa.
The struggle of the Middle Belt peoples did not start yesterday. As a matter of fact, it goes as far back as the 1900s. The subject of the creation of a Middle Belt region for the non-Muslim populations of the North was heavily debated in the British Parliament. Journalists and intellectuals and experts on colonial administration strongly urged the Colonial Office in London to consider creating an autonomous region for the non-Muslim peoples. Missionaries like Dr. Karl Kumm of the old Sudan United Mission also made strong submissions for that cause. The tribal chiefs from the Kilba, the Lunguda in Adamawa and the Baju and Atyap in Southern Kaduna also made strong representations to the colonial overlords to create a Middle Belt region.
The Willink Minority Commission 1957 advocated creation of an autonomous region for the Middle Belt, but the matter was unfortunately overtaken by geopolitics. The British considered it to be in their long-term strategic interest to ensure that the North would remain the dominant region and would continue to rule in perpetuity. Dame Margery Perham, a leading authority on colonial administration, described it as “tripod”, which was programmed to fail. One of the laws of federalist theory is that none of the federating units should be large enough to threaten the others. The British clearly sowed the seeds of catastrophe which has continued to haunt our country to this day.
The fathers of the modern Middle Belt struggle are well known. They include Rev. David Lot, J. S. Tarka, Patrick Dokotri, J. D. Gomwalk, Solomon Daushep Lar, Dan Suleiman and the late Bala Takaya, among several others. The millions of Middle Belt youths today are demanding a separate identity for themselves. They are tired of being lumped together as part of a monstrous behemoth called the North. We do not want to be associated with the Almajiri system, Emirate feudalism, begging, Sharia, poverty, mindless divorce and broken families, Global jihad, child marriage and vaginal Vesico-fistula, VVF; Boko Haram, genocidal herdsmen, oppression and violence.
The Middle Belt sacrificed more than anyone else to keep this country together. We are the bridge that links North and South. Without the Middle Belt, Nigeria would not exist. The greatest regret of our people is that General Yakubu Gowon used our conscripted youths to fight against the fledgling republic of Biafra. Most of them had never seen a rainforest terrain before. They were mowed down like grass. Never again will the Middle Belt ever allow itself to be used in that way.
Over the last decade, the Middle Belt Forum has been engaged in dialogue with Afenifere of Yoruba land, PANDEF of the South-South and Ohaeneze Ndigbo of the East. We have discovered our common destiny. We are working together to build a New Nigeria with a new constitution and a re-engineered federation in which all our communities will have a fair and equal voice.
We are resolved never to be part of the Old North, where our people are daily being killed, maimed and raped. During this lockdown alone, hundreds of innocent people – children, women, the elderly – have been killed by marauding bandits in Southern Kaduna, Plateau and Benue. Boko Haram has targeted Christian communities in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. More than 3,000 churches have been destroyed and more than 400 clergy have been martyred. Their trade mark is beheading, disembowelment of expectant mothers, hacking of infants, rape and forced marriages of under-age girls. There are more than three million internally displaced persons in Nigeria today as a consequence.
We are not hostile to Islam or Muslims. We have our own indigenous Muslims with whom we live in peace and harmony. We want good rapport with the North, but never accept the status of dhimmi second-class citizens in the land of our ancestors. After almost 60 years of feudal injustice, structural violence and oppression, we demand self-determination within a New Nigeria.
In July 2018, the Middle Belt peoples held a Summit in Makurdi, Benue State. The famous Makurdi Declaration that ensued sets out our principles, goals and vision for our people and for the New Nigeria of our dream. That clarion call to freedom rang throughout the world.
Its essence is a rejection of the fraud underpinning the 1999 Constitution. It begins with: “We, the people”. But that is a capital LIE! That fraudulent contraption was designed and handed-over to us by a military dictatorship without the full consent of our people. It is therefore, ipso facto, bereft of moral legitimacy. We demand nothing less than a new constitution with a referendum that ensures that all the peoples of Nigeria decide which region they will belong to, without fear or favour.
We also take strong exception to the gerrymandering of the structure of our federation in such a manner that favours some while short-changing others. We envision a two-tier federation, with federating units of no more than five Regions:North, Middle Belt, West, East and South-South. Each Region will be free to create its own municipal councils as it deems fit. We envisage Regions that shall be economically and financially viable; able to meet their basic obligations in terms of operating elected government, civil service and local police.
Ever since Aristotle, a system of checks and balances exists in constitutional government because men are not angels. The presidential system and our current fraudulent federalism have proven to be a monstrous Leviathan that sucks the blood of our people. The Middle Belt stands for a decentralised parliamentary system that devolves more powers to the people and allows them to participate in the governance process that shapes their lives and the future of their children.
Freedom beckons, and we shall not wait!
THE IGALA : WHO WE ARE
THE IGALA : WHO WE ARE
by Gabriel Oyibo
The Igala origin started from Egypt, formerly known as Kemet. Egypt was the cradle of civilization. According to Professor Gabriel Oyibo (GAGUT), “our forefathers were the inhabitants of Egypt”. They were the inventor of chemistry and mathematics (Geometry). “chem.” Means black; “mystery” (magic) that is “black magic”. When the white give a piece of stone or metal; the blacks (our fore fathers) knew the number of hydrogen ions they would add to turn it to gold. To the white then, it was black magic. With time they started realizing it was chemical reaction taking place, hence the development of the subject called chemistry. The pyramid that was built by our forefathers involved the most intelligent mathematical calculations ever done on earth.
Recent Archaeological discovery was a computer cell dating over 3, 000 years with the cell still alive. There is no doubt that other archaeological finding had shown that the oldest man on earth was found in Egypt, proving evidence that human life started from Egypt. Archaeologist has also on earthed the site of the ancient universities of Alexandria believed to be the oldest university in the world. Between 36 – 841 AD, the Arab from southern Europe invaded Egypt and drove away our people from Egypt. They started their journeys southwards.
The scattering made others to go towards the South and North East of Egypt. Some settled at Ethiopia making the Ethiopian population to constituting about 75% of Galas; indigenous language of Congolese is called Lingala by; in Ghana they speak Gaa; which is an Igala language. When you remove “N” from Ghana and replace by ‘L’ you have Ghala. There is a traditional ruler called Atta in Ghana and that is why many Ghanaians bare Atta.
When Dr. Jacob Abdullahi met bishop Gad Heward – Mill, who is of Gaa tribe from Ghana when he come to Abuja to preach in Foursquare Gospel church Garki, he was proud of his Ethnic group although he was trying to link their origin to Yoruba languages. He made him to understand that Yoruba is also an Igala language. (Please read Igala / Yoruba relationship). Angola means “the land of Galas”. Gala mean celebrity. At least, in Nigeria today and the rest of the world especially among Africans, Gala is the most celebrated in scientific breakthroughs.
Some of the Igalas on their way to the present abode settled along their routes; some Galas are presently in Sudan, Madagascar, Turkey, and Yemen, one of the Arabian countries were we still have the king as “Attah-Turk” and “Ata Gala” G.M Clifford, one of the Colonial district officer in Nigeria, stated in his book, “the Igala chiefdom” that the Igala country, (as it was then known) was variously called, Igala, Igara, Gara, Gala and early reports Atangara or Akpoto… the Eastern boundary of Igala proper ran from the River Ocheku through Agatu, Idoka, Boju, through the Idoma, Nsukka, some little above Onitsha and external fief of Igbira Panda, Igbira Igu (Koton Karfi or Akpoto Karfi) and Kakanda, whilst the Ata’s writ on the Niger itself extended from the limit of Benue, Benue confluence to the Bussa rapids where Mungo park met his end”.
Please repeat carefully these statements about the Igala country as described above by Mr. G.M Clifford the then colonial district officer at Idah. Note that the description was limited to the Igala proper. This did not include other tribes within the territory of Igala country. There is every reason for me to believe that the Igbira, Idoma, Kakanda and other tribes within this area are proper Igalas. Bassa-Nge speak almost the same language as Nupes while Bassa-Komo is of Gbagyi (Gwari) extractions and the language is almost the same. “Limits of Benue, Benue confluence, which is the very center of Igala Kingdom (Lokoja) to the Bussa rapids (New-Bussa) in the present Niger State; where Mungo Park met his end”.
Please pause and trace New-Bussa and the source (limits) of River Benue. It is a pity, and unfortunate that Igala nation with all her people and might has been submerged, reduced into a tiny geographical location called Kogi State. I believe that the sleeping giant will rise up once again from a century of slumbering and be awakened unto their responsibilities by providing good leadership that has eluded this nation!
Igalas on their way from Egypt crossing the deserts must have stayed with Jukuns (Apa), (although Aros) Apa branch have their origin in Idah. Briefly before relocating to the present abode. It is not an exaggeration that Igalas are owners and the first Nigerians to be reckoned with. The 1987 political bureau, which stated thus, backs up this historical fact.
Although controversies, claim and counter claims characterize the tradition of origins and migrations of different Nigerian people, it is important to note that certain areas of Nigeria such as the upper Benue valley, the Niger-Benue confluence (originally occupied by the Okpotos) and the central high lands of middle belt were centers of origin or parent stock from where many group in Nigeria branched out to their present abodes”.
In 1917, report to investigate as to origin of the Non-Tiv in Katsina-Ala Division, proved the existence of remnants of Igala settlement, East of Katsina River.
This report supported all the facts earlier submitted that most tribes in Nigeria came out of Igala, Bini and Jukuns. That is why Igala word is most common to other languages in Nigeria and beyond. This work erases all doubts and controversies in the report.
In early seventies (70s), there was a seminar held in order to fashion out a Lingua franca for Nigeria; a Yoruba professor of Linguistics defended the Igalas position that it should be Igala language to be adopted as lingua Franca for Nigeria. The reason is that most Igala words are found in other languages in Nigeria and beyond.
Between 16th and 17th Century, Igala had one of the best indigenous colonization in Africa; Idah became the people’s Rome, the center of civilization and learning. The most important resources in Nigeria during the pre-colonial era were the two Rivers. The most cherished and strategic point to behold and even occupy was the confluence area.
Prior to the coming of Europeans, and subsequent partition of West Africa, Igala country stretched far as to share boundaries with Onitsha, Benin and beyond the banks of the River Niger and Benue to the North. They share influences and treaties with the Igbos, Benin’s in the Southwest, Yorubas in the far West and the Hausas in the North. Their technology was also at advanced stage. Some early explorers could not hide their feelings an excerpt from their diary:
The Igala people have had mutually reinforcing relationship with major world ethnic groups. Their craft (technology) was so advanced that at close of 18th Century, Igala country produces iron and metals; cultivate cotton, tobacco and beniseed; they also manufacture coarse grass, mats and bags, cloths, clay and brass pipes, hoes and leather.
The latter is dyed black, red or yellow, and is made with anos or charms for the neck and waist, as well as being used for covering baskets, and the handles of swords and knives”.
Igala King introduced Gunu, the chief heathen deity of the Kworra and the confluence. Before the advent of the Europeans colonization, Igala religion was practiced by several groups in Nigeria. Please read an extract from records of early explorers. “The worship of Gunu is carried on in Nupe, Igara and Bassa as well as in the states of Yauri and Gbari, and is said to have been introduced about 150 years ago by an Igara King.
Gunu is believed to be the spirit of some ancestor of the Igaras, and is looked on as the great dispenser of every blessing, but more especially as the giver of children. An annual festival takes place in its honour at the end of January or the beginning of February and lasts for ten days, there being great feasting and drinking accompanied by dancing and merriment. Gunu inhabits certain groves in the country, and thither, during the festival wooden bowls of cooked food and pots of native beer (made from hocus sorghum) are carried for the propitiation of the deity, men praying on this occasion for fruitful crops (since Gunu is considered to be the controller of the elements), while childless women pray that their lot may be changed.
As had been mentioned, there is a great mortality from various causes among children in these countries, therefore should a woman who had the misfortune to lose all her children in infancy succeed in rearing one, she prefixes to its name that of Gunu, and so among the Nupes we frequently find such names as Gunu-Kolo, Gunu-Jia, Gunu-Kashi, their possesors being much respected, and deemed to be gifts from the great Gunu”. (Nupe at that time was a province of Igara).
Furthermore, Igala kernels were among export commodities to various countries in the world.
History has played a major role in shaping the landscape of the Igala country. However, the prosperity of the old Igala nation left behind a society that is endowed with abundant historical relics which tells the stages of civilization, architecture, culture, settlement, pattern etc.
Anybody viewing the map of Africa and zooming into Nigeria will see one of the greatest features; the two great Rivers that met at a point and together journeying down Southwards into the Atlantic without the waters mixing.
Each one maintaining their white and dark colours separate identities until they flow into the Delta region and emptied into the Atlantic. God is Great!……
(Professor Gabriel Audu Oyibo, called the ‘Black Einstein’ and the creator of GAGUT, which stands for the “GOD Almighty Grand Unified Theorem” which is called the ‘Theory of Everything,’ is the man who solved Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity.’ Prof. Gabriel Audu Oyibo has still not been given the Nobel Prize in Physics or Mathematics by the Nobel Committee although he was nominated for the Noble Prize in 2002, 2003 and 2004)
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