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Nigeria’s Indebtedness To Igala kingdom

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BY THEOPHILUS ABBAH

*The Main Issue*
For those who clearly understand pre-colonial Nigeria’s political, social and economic setting, the Federal High Court judgment was not a snake bite or the stinging of bees – they are not in any way shocked. For instance, the Ibo nation is not in denial of their ancient, precolonial relationship with the Igala kingdom, and the imprint is not denied in Anambra State where, up till today, there is a sizeable portion of communities with Igala ancestry. Igbo trader sknew that their routes to access the old Kwararafa kingdom ran through the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue at Lokoja. The river flows through that space into the Atlantic Ocean. Historical evidence bears the fact that Igala kingdom was founded by two brothers, Igala and Bunda (Kakanda). While Igala was based at Idah, Kakanda had his base at Okuta Ihabe, which was to later become a stone market (Ajaokuta). Today, there is a sizeable population of aboriginal Igala, who are led by Onu Igala at Ajaokuta. His reign is older than that of Ebira traditional head in the area.

Several sources state that the Chronicles of Abuja spoke of the extensive influence of Idah over the Abuja territories – Umaisha, Toto, Koton Karfi, and even Abaji. In their work, Narrative of the Expedition to the River Niger, William Allen and T.R.H. Thompson explained that as at 1841, “The Ata was King of the Igala state, with its capital at Idah, at this time an important commercial centre on the Niger, with historic connexions southwards with Benin and northwards with Nupe.” The authors showed how powerful Attah was in 1841, when His Royal Majesty rejected a gift brought to him by explorers from the Queen of England, and refused an offer to travel by boat to England to meet the Queen to discuss trade relations, saying those were activities that ‘servants’ carried out.

Because the sea was the means of transportation and the link between them and Niger Area, European traders had to establish trade and diplomatic ties with the king in control of the great rivers, and, in that era, the king was Attah Igala. To express the depth of the relationship, the colonialists built a seaport and an airstrip at Idah, the headquarters of the Igala State. Before the Nigerian civil war began in 1967, Idah had a thriving seaport, preferred by European traders to the port at Lokoja. The port had to be closed as a result of bomb attacks from Biafra army. The aerodrome constructed at Idah was put out of use because of the war. For traders from Europe, Idah port was strategic for transporting palm oil and palm kernel from Igbo and Igalaland, on the one hand, and for moving cotton from Hausaland to their continent. Even in the 1960s, Idah was a thriving port city. The government of the late President Umar Musa Yar’adua/Goodluck Jonathan awarded a contract to revive the port, but the project was not completed. In the book, Nigerian Perspectives: An Historical Anthology, by Thomas Hodghin, the author alluded to the fact that Igala kingdom stood erect in comparison with the ancient Benin Kingdom, Oduduwa Kingdom, Hausa Kingdom, and the Bonny’s King Opubu.

In the precolonial era, the political arrangement was more like a confederacy. Confederacy is a political system in which different ethnic communities or peoples come under one authority in order to pursue a common aim. The Kwararafa Kingdom was very large, but it was because other ethnic communities, accepted to come under the reign of the Aku Uka, in order to be protected from enemies who might wage war against them. In this way, the ethnic communities around the confluence came under the umbrella of the Attah whose army was powerful enough to protect them from invaders, including Fulani Jihadists, who had swept through Hausaland to install Fulani emirs in place of traditonal chiefs. The evidence of this military might command by the army of Attah Igala is there for anyone to see – in all the territories around the confluence river, there is no emir or emirate. If the Fulani possesses any political power in this area today, it is simply as a result of modern political arrangements.

The indebtedness. An Igala proverb says “a barren woman does not suffer child bereavement.” If the British had paid up the full sum of 700,000 cowries, nobody would have been nagging about ‘Igala imperialism’ in 2020. No matter how rich a man is, he hardly forgets those who are indebted to him. That is what is playing out in the courts today. Historically, the Quaker Society of London, a missionary organization, which had campaigned against slavery sought to use the land from Ajaokuta to Lokoja as a model farm to halt slave trade. Slaves were taken to Europe to work on plantations. The Quakers argued that it would be better for Africans to, in their own country, plant those crops for which they were enslaved in Europe, and export the produce by sea to Europe, instead of being dehumanized as slaves in foreign lands. Those who want to know more about the Quakers can read up the roles these missionaries played in the fight to halt slave trade. The Queen of Great Britain and Ireland signed the Deed, while a representative of Attah also signed. Though the model farm project thrived for some years, it was thwarted by the activities of Fulani Jihadists who raided the farms. But the colonial government used Lokoja as Nigeria’s first administrative headquarters – without paying up the balance for the land. Incidentally, people from all walks of life came to settle in Lokoja under the new political arrangement, which has subsisted up till the present day.

Unless they have decided to play the ostrich, all traditional institutions in Kogi State are not ignorant of this historical fact. In Igala, there is a proverb which says, “if you own a property but are afraid to claim it, then it is not yours.” Like every government, the institution of Attah is a continuum. The indebtedness to Attah Igala in 1841 is an indebtedness to Attah Igala in 2020. In the same manner, the debt owed by colonial government that gave birth to the current system of government is a debt that hangs on the neck of the Buhari administration. What the court has asked the federal government to pay Attah Igala is a domestic debt. Though the transaction is over 200 years old, a debt is a debt, unless it is negotiated and written off. It is in this sense that Africans are seeking reparation from today’s Europe and America over slave trade that ended almost 200 years ago. In 2020, Namibians are seeking reparation from German government, for material damages and loss of lives that occurred during Germany’s colonial rule from 1884 to 1915. In America, there are deliberate policies to provide reliefs of all kinds to aboriginal Red Indians, who were displaced for modern America to be established.

In contemporary Nigeria, the Land Use Act gives governors control over land, but if such land is being used for projects in the interest of the public, compensation must be paid to the ‘traditional owners’ of such land. So, why must Attah Igala be shot down for seeking the repayment of an old debt? Some traditional institutions want to appeal the Federal High Court judgment. Not exactly because they have a stake; not because Attah is asking them to be evacuated from Lokoja and Ajaokuta. No. Their intention is to do the impossible – alter history, fight the past. May God grant us wisdom to pick the battles we fight.

Abbah wrote this piece from Abuja.

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Labour Of Our Heroes Won’t Go In Vain,’ Govs Celebrate Armed Forces Remembrance Day

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Governors across states of the Federation have joined in the celebration of 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

The Federal Government had earlier ordered the closure of parts of the roads accessing the arcade of the federal secretariat complexes and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja to mark the event in the Federal Capital Territory.

In the South-West, Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde at the event held on Saturday at the Remembrance Arcade, Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, promised to keep encouraging and working closely with members of the armed forces and the survivors of the fallen heroes

He commended the officers and men of the security agencies for their efforts in battling insecurity in the state, urging them to continue to do their best to ensure that peace reigns in the state and the country at large.

Governor Seyi Makinde

“For Nigerians, some people made sacrifices for us to be where we are right now and also paid the ultimate price.

“So, I believe we should not allow their toil to go in vain,” the governor said.


In Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, it was a solemn moment as the state governor, Dapo Abiodun joined other dignitaries which include the heads of security agencies, traditional rulers to lay the wreath in remembrance of the Nation’s fallen heroes at the arcade ground in the state capital.

The 21-gun salute was also shot in memory of the fallen heroes and the supreme price they had paid for the unity and peace of the country.

Governor Dapo Abiodun

 

The governor who also inspected the parades and the colour party called on Nigerians to sustain the quest for unity, peace and progress of the country, for socio-economic development and progress.


In the Eastern region, Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi led other members of the state executive council to the event held at the Unity Square in the state capital.

Security Agencies represented at the event include the Nigerian Army; the Nigeria Police Force; the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC); the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); and the Nigeria Immigration.

Governor David Umahi

The Nigerian Legion Ebonyi State chapter at the event called on both the state and Federal Government to make available enhanced welfare packages as well as provision of job opportunities to the children of servicemen and women who have paid the supreme price defending the country.


Also in Imo State, resident joined their counterparts in other parts of the country to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration.

The event which took place at the Ndubuisi Kanu square in Owerri, the Imo state capital, witnessed match past by the armed forces and security operatives as well as the presence of top government functionaries in Imo State.

Governor Hope Uzodimma

Delivering his speech, Governor Hope Uzodimma asked Nigerians to take the opportunity of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration to reflect more on the meaning and importance of sacrifice as it affects the interest of the Nation.

He described the military as the noblest and patriotic profession.

In the South-South, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa represented by his deputy Kingsley Otuaro led top military and para-military officers to lay wreaths at the statue of the unknown soldier.

The event was held at the cenotaph where the governor inspected the guard of honour mounted by the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce and members of the Nigerian Legion.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa

 

A minute silence was observed while a 21-gun salute was taken in honour of the departed heroes.

Some widows of the fallen heroes also used the opportunity to ask the Federal and State Government to look into their plight and provide support for them to be able to fend for themselves and their families.

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki in his address held in Benin, the state capital said unguarded talks about Nigeria’s unity will cost lives and the efforts of fallen heroes would have been in vain.

Governor Godwin Obaseki

 

He also disclosed plans to include wives of the fallen heroes in the state’s welfare programmes, adding that some of the legionnaires have already been integrated into the security architecture of the state.


In Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel called on Nigerians to embrace dialogue in resolving thorny issues in the country.

Governor Udom Emmanuel

 

The governor said most of the circumstances that caused bloodshed in the country’s history would have been settled peacefully if the key players embraced dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

In Kwara State, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq urged Nigerians to continue to provide information to the military in order to end the insecurity in the country while also urging the country to appreciate the sacrifices being made to keep the country together.

He also commended the efforts of the Federal Government in enhancing their welfare.


Meanwhile, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal appealed to the Federal Government to sustain the payment of pension and gratuity to retired military personnel.

While laying a wreath at the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Sokoto, he said this will enable the retired personnel to live well and take care of their needs and it will also serve as an encouragement to the serving personnel to do more in the service of the nation.

He said their services in unquantifiable in ensuring the unity of the nation by laying their lives for the service of the nation.

However, Katsina State Government restated commitment to restore peace and normalcy in the state with several strategies, approaches and mechanisms been introduced by the state to eradicate terrorism in the state.

Governor Aminu Masari during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration held at the Katsina Peoples’ Square said the relative peace currently being enjoined in the state is due to the dedication, competence and discipline of the troops and other sister security agencies.

He commended the army for the untiring sacrifice towards securing the lives and property of Katsina citizens.


In Niger State, Governor Abubakar Bello said the security agencies should remain resolute to end the security challenges in the country.

Bello disclosed this at the 2022 Nigeria Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration held at the Permanent Cenotaph, Minna.

He also commended the efforts of the Federal Government in enhancing their welfare.


Meanwhile, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal appealed to the Federal Government to sustain the payment of pension and gratuity to retired military personnel.

While laying a wreath at the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Sokoto, he said this will enable the retired personnel to live well and take care of their needs and it will also serve as an encouragement to the serving personnel to do more in the service of the nation.

He said their services in unquantifiable in ensuring the unity of the nation by laying their lives for the service of the nation.

However, Katsina State Government restated commitment to restore peace and normalcy in the state with several strategies, approaches and mechanisms been introduced by the state to eradicate terrorism in the state.

Governor Aminu Masari during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration held at the Katsina Peoples’ Square said the relative peace currently being enjoined in the state is due to the dedication, competence and discipline of the troops and other sister security agencies.

He commended the army for the untiring sacrifice towards securing the lives and property of Katsina citizens.


In Niger State, Governor Abubakar Bello said the security agencies should remain resolute to end the security challenges in the country.

Bello disclosed this at the 2022 Nigeria Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration held at the Permanent Cenotaph, Minna.

He commended the men of Nigeria Armed Forces and other security agencies for protecting the lives of the people especially in dealing with insurgency and criminal elements, urging them not to relent.

The governor urged them to continue to protect the integrity of the nation, promising the support of the state government towards ending the insecurity.

“My call is on the military to remain resolute. Today is a special day where we come to remember our fallen heroes that have lost their lives in wars and in the course of their assignments”, he said.

Highlights of the event were the release of pigeons as a symbol of peace, exchange of pleasantries with the widows of the fallen heroes and members of the legions as well as the inspection of the guard of honour by the Governor.

Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku in his address urged the Nigeria Army to sustain the momentum against insecurity and ensure that peace reigns across the country.

He said his administration will not relent in supporting the military and other security agencies to ensure that criminal elements are wiped out of the state, as well as avert the recurring herders, farmers clashes and communal crisis.

The governor, who was was represented by his Deputy Haruna Manu assured of prioritising the needs of ex-servicemen and fallen heroes families.

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Former Oyo State Governor, Alao-Akala Passes On

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Otunba Adebayo Christopher Alao-Akala, a former Governor of Oyo State, is dead.

Details of his death are sketchy but sources close to the politician confirmed the tragic incident to SunriseNigeria.

The politician, who had been battling terminal ailment for a while, died in his Ogbomoso country home, on Wednesday morning, according to sources.

A top source in the All Progressives Congress (APC) who confirmed his death to Daily Trust on Wednesday morning, said he died in his room.

“It is true that Oga is dead. He died in the early hours of Wednesday in his room in Ogbomoso. He was full of life last night. In fact, I head he was playing with his children before he went to bed. We are in a mourning mood now,” he said.

Akala was the governor of the state between 2007 and 2011.

Born on June 3, 1950, at Ogbomoso in the Ogbomoso North Local Government Area of Oyo State, Alao-Akala had his elementary school at Osupa Baptist Day School, Ogbomoso before proceeding to Kamina Barracks Middle School, 5th Battalion of Infantry in Tamale, Ghana.

This is the third known death of a prominent Ogbomosho native in a month.

On December 12, 2021, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, the Soun of Ogbomoso, passed on.

On January 8, 2022, Prof Taibat Danmole, his daughter who was a lecturer at the Lagos State University (LASU), also died.

The deceased, who was a professor of education was married to another university don, Prof. Hakeem Danmole, who is the Dean College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin

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Former Nigerian Leader, Ernest Shonekan Dies, Aged 85

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Ernest Shonekan

Chief Ernest Shonekan who headed the Interim National Government that succeeded the junta of General Ibrahim Babangida, has died.Shonekan died in Lagos at the age of 85.

He was the interim head of the Nigerian Government between August 26 and November 17 1993 when he was ousted in a coup led by late General Sani Abacha.

 

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