A Paper Dedicated to 2016 Mopa Day Celebration

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A CONTRIBUTION TO 2016 MOPA DAY CELEBRATION

 COMEMORATING THE 30TH YEAR REIGN OF OBA JULIUS JOLEDO, THE ELULU OF MOPA

 

This would have been a lecture delivered on one of the days during the celebration but for reasons best known to the organizers of the event, the lecture was cancelled.

I have decided to make the address available here. 

 

MOPA – An Amazing Grace

“What is Man that You are mindful of him?

For You have made him a little lower than the angels!

                        And You have crowned him with Glory and Honor,

You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands:

You have put ALL things under his feet….

O LORD, OUR LORD, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!”

– 8th Psalm of David verse 4.

Kabiyesi o!

May your days be long! Ki ade pelori, ki bata Pelese!  May your time continue to know  Peace and may progress be multiplied to your people!

The Traditional Council and Chiefs,  I greet you Sirs. May Wisdom, Courage and Peace never depart from you!

On behalf of the Kabiyesi, I welcome you all! Visitors, Fathers, Mothers, Brothers and Sisters. We thank you for gracing this occasion!

It is a heart full of Joy for the privilege to share thoughts at this event.  To Mopa Welfare Society, the planners of these events, we say thank you. May the God of our fathers, the very one who anchored this valley city of Mopa reward you in multiples. Many thanks indeed!

 Kabiyesi!

May your days be long! The entire people of this great city, Mopa, felicitate with you on the 30th year of your reign as THE ELULU of MOPA. YOU ARE THE DISTILLATION OF OUR COLLECTIVE HERITAGE. Kabiyesi, if God wills, we would access wisdom, by chronicled epochal events of our history that you may wish to share in your memoirs, Sir, of which life lessons will be learnt. It would set the records straight and serve both as a reference and as a guide; a LEGACY, Kabiyesi, of our FIRST CENTURY as a united people.

Mopa – How we came about

“And the Lord said, Indeed the people are ONE and they have one language……   Now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them!” a statement by the Almighty, as recorded in Genesis 11:6

While some of us may be familiar with the story (am aware there are different versions) of this great city, Mopa, I myself only became slightly more aware in the course of this preparation. Visibly, Mopa is a city set at the hills that cannot be shaken. It was and remains a place of succor, a place where people from different parts found respite, brotherly welcome, and most importantly they found a common ideology.

Here I take largely from the research works of an aburo of mine (Sam Elere). He gladly has more details and is willing to share.

Mopa comprises survival communities of warriors, hunters, farmers and herbalists who refused to be bucked by raiders.  Majorly in 19th century (from about 1789 to 1897) our people, originally from various villages within Yagba axis were immensely pressured and kept moving and fighting till finally they camped on and around these hills you see today. They were pressured for survival due to skirmishes of war, human trafficking and slave raiding. Somehow they found, here, a common purpose, “Imon-papo”.

The uniqueness of Mopa (Imon-pap) stems from the fact that we do not descend from a single progenitor like most other settlements. Just about a century ago (in 1911) we had our own version of “amalgamation”. Facilitated by one Oyinbo Pepere, Mr. H.B. James – a Colonial Officer in this area then, who made our people of Iloke (comprising Ipatia and Ilegemon) forcing them downhill’s, for administrative convenience, to join Ikeji and Odole, two other communities settled just down the valley.

Thus it was in 1916, that three communities (Iloke, Ikeji and Odole) under the respective leadership of Osa Atobakeru (Iloke), Osaoloro Oludoyi (Odole) and Asalu (Ikeji) met and mutually agreed to a united Mopa under a single rulership. We are told, over 50 families participated in this foundation ceremony, and were according to their clans “Aku Mehan” – nine stands;  the Adogbe Clan, Ijagbe Clan, Ikeji Clan, Ilegemon Clan, Ipatia Clan, Iyeke Clan, Okeguru Clan, Okedagun Clan and the Okedigba Clan

So about this day, in 1916, at Kukuru Market, the congregation agreed that Oba Oju Aloko become the first King of Mopa, broadly now comprising Odole and Ileteju.

We have had only three kings in our history as Imo-papo.

  NAME PERIOD OF REIGN
1 Oba Aloko 1916 to 1959
2 Oba Orimolade 1961 to 1981
3 Oba Julius Joledo 1986 till date

And so, this year’s Mopa Day is a unique one! Not only is it that Oba Joledo’s reign is now 30 years, this celebration also coincides with our centenary existence as a people of Mopa!

PLEASE JOIN ME TO WISH MOPA A HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I congratulate the Kabiyesi that this historical occurrence is at your time! Long may you live sir! Kabiyesi, THE ELULU of MOPA.

And so we were different people coming together and agreeing to live in oneness, brotherliness and in harmony;  – security considerations as well. Our forefathers were brave warriors, brave hunters, farmers and herbalists who met in the cause of active engagement with their enemies. Some say that the revered Ifa Oracle had long predicted this coming together, and that the events at that period only ensured the fulfillment of it.

Some salient but notable facts here, that we Mopa people are from a heritage of bravery; skills; openness and welcome; we respect deeply and do not fail to act out our displeasure. We realized early, the need for unity for our survival and security. Each people subjugated  personal clannish differences and chose to co-exist peacefully under a common leadership. We are generally proud and know the homes we are from. Meeting a Mopa man, he is likely to insist that he is from Mopa, and not from Kabba, as a commonly generalized area.

We have since maintained this spirit, e.g. we rotate our kingship amongst the melting units without rancor; we accept other people and communities into our lands; we have readily integrated anyone, who genuinely shares this spirit of unity as brothers; we have certain principles of sharing and rotating political power. These were conscious efforts to balance and sustain equity and inclusiveness within our lands.

We had early contact with Christianity, through the Missionaries who influenced our beliefs, education and lifestyle. About 95% of us are Christians, 4.5% Traditionalists and .05% Muslims. We adopted early those lifestyles that could stand us in good stead, systematically addressing faith, education, health, skill acquisition, finance and access to information. e.g. ECWA and Baptist Churches, ECWA Primary  and Secondary School, Baptist Primary, ECWA Dispensary, Technical School, First Bank, Post Office,  etc. We were traditional ECWA, Baptist, Catholic, Apostolic, later Jehovah Witnesses, Anglicans and Pentecostals (Redeemed, Living Faith, Mountain of Fire and the likes) and we also have a big mosque.

 

Mopa – A blessed people

Mopa in Mopamuro LGA of Kogi West Senatorial District, formerly in Oyi LGA in Kwara State, later in Yagba East and now in Mopamuro. Mopamuro has a land mass of about 901Km2, population of about 50,000 (Abuja Stadium would sit all of us comfortably). Actually 2006 Census had put us at 44,037 with growth rate of about 3% then. With headquarters in Mopa, we are lucky to be one of the smallest Local Governments in the country. We are about the 4th smallest LGA in population, as at the gazetted 774 LGAs, Ifedayo LGA being the 1st (37,000) Ogori/Magogo 2nd (40,000); Ilejemeje 3rd (44,000). Our postal code is 261.

In a nation of about 167 Million people, we are very much less than 0.03% of the population, yet we have produced, since our 2nd generations till date, great and illustrious sons and daughters of whom we are proud! In no particular order, Acting Governor, Architects, Ambassadors, Administrators, Agronomists, Artists, Artisans, Business moguls, Bankers, Commissioners, Computer gurus, Deputy Governors, leading Doctors, District Officers, Director Generals, Directors, Educationists, leading Engineers, Finance gurus, Federal Commissioners, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Speaker of Assembly, Super Permanent Secretaries, Permanent Secretaries, Physicists, retired and serving Police top brass, Religious icons, leading Professors and University Dons too numerous, Industrialists, retired and serving Military top brass, Space scientists, seasoned Top Civil Servants, Senators, men and women of US Military and British Military,  Senior Advocates, Mechanics, Post Masters, Railway Chiefs, Nurses, Musicians, name it! Illustrious men and women of timber and caliber!

As small as we are and for as long as any of us can remember, we have always had a front row in the running of affairs in this country and in whatever State or Region we found ourselves. We do have a good name! We acknowledge, commend and thank all those worthy Sons and Daughters of ours, living or dead, who privately or collectively have done their bit towards advancing this community. Your efforts are not in vain!

Like the children of Israel who were called by God for a greater purpose of worship, and example to nations, we in Mopa are called and congregated for a higher purpose as an example to others. We certainly may have had our wilderness experiences, and may have missed opportunities but our God, the God of Israel will not forsake us. Our Jerusalem is in sight. With the Grace of God, and by our determination, our bravery to seek new and noble opportunities, our commitment to peace, our unity and brotherly love must surely see us to progress.

Mopa – New Frontiers

AS A MAN THINKETH, SO IS HE!

Amongst all the books that a man should read, after the Bible, I recommend “As a man thinketh” by James Allen; a few others, “The Strangest Secrets” by Earl Nightingale;  Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”; “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Zig Ziglar’s “Changing the Picture”.

The resonating message, true also of any other material you might find on Successful living is “THAT ANY MAN (ANY PEOPLE/ COMMUNITY/ ANY NATION) CAN HAVE WHATEVER HE DESIRES IN LIFE, IF HE WILL TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND BE DETERMINED TO COMMIT TO ITS ATTAINMENT.

Brothers and sisters, we homo sapiens, all have common denominators – we basically want the same things of life –

WE WANT TO BE HAPPY, TO BE HEALTHY, REASONABLY PROSPEROUS, WE WANT TO BE SECURED, HAVE TRUSTWORTHY FRIENDS, PEACE OF MIND, GOOD FAMILY RELATIONSHIP AND ABOVE ALL, TO HAVE HOPE!

Albert Eistein said long ago that “Logic will take you from point A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere!” Whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve!

So, Mopa, I ask what you see? What pictures do you see in your mind’s eye of this society – say 5, 10, 20, 30 40 years down the line?

Do you see us as an organized and progressive society with roads paved, inter-connected and light at night? Do you see neatly laid out compounds, houses with clean water within each household, toilet facility, etc.? Do you see every house numbered on named streets and crescents? Do you see healthy and vibrant children playing in the parks full of radiance and joy, unafraid with trees, flowers and green all around to keep the coolness and serenity?

What values do you want to see in your children? Do you see zero mortality of mother and child at child birth? Could we have no record of a Mopa child without education at least to Secondary School orphaned or not? Could we see our students here with benefit of quality educational facilities, stocked Library, laboratories with access to the internet within a thousand miles? Do you see God fearing, respectful, confident, skilled, hardworking and vision full young men and women aiming for the skies? Do you see them attracting value and prestige to this city?

Do you see haven for our farmers – sufficient and prosperous  farm produce and sending out the products across the world? Do you see Happy, wealthy farmers with organized access to contemporary and profitable farming practices? Do you see people coming from all over to access our medical facility within a thousand miles? What about our Natural resources – Do you see a vibrant mining community? Do you see our industries like Mopa Breweries, Boja Industries, SBD Farms, Valley Foods, etc. come alive vibrant again?

What about our Local Government here? Can we imagine it as an epitome of Civil Administration, an example in Leadership and Service where workers give and learn the best in practices of governance? Do we see no woman, young or old, without some skill or trade, contributing joyfully to her home?

I SEE THESE IN THIS VERY LAND MOPA! Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be open to you! Life gives to us what we ask of it. This is why I know and believe that we can collectively, consciously and systematically alter the course of our land, our history, our heritage, like our fore fathers did before us!

 

Mopa – Our Youths, Our Now and Our Future

“Let no one despise your youth” 1Tim 4:12.

To our youths, I salute you! I salute your vibrancy, your perseverance and courage, particularly at these trying times. It may be that the society has failed to prepare you adequately for the challenges of this “Flat World” of 21st Century! But do not despair! Do not believe anyone who says to you that it is impossible! Those that say for this reason or that, you somehow will not achieve your purpose! Go far from them that try to put you down! Never believe them that say you are not good enough! Never ever believe them nor grant them you space! Hold your heads high and follow your hearts!

Tell them that the most successful people recorded in history had their fair share of failures! Some were drop outs, some have no formal education, some completely left for dead in desolate conditions; but they found a way deep within, out of the pits to triumph. The Carneige’s of this world, the Gates of this world, the Eddisons, the Obamas, Henry Ford, Abraham Lincoln, Mo Ibrahim, Awolowo,  Obasanjo, Buhari, the Madiba Mandela’s of this world! They hoped and stood tall to their convictions.

No need to bemoan the deplete, the pillages, pilferages and rape, of slavery, colonization and bad leadership for over 600 hundred years now. What is done is done! Africans remain the most resilient people known in history. We know that ALL things work together for our good!

We must retool ourselves, sharpen our skills and have something in our hands to offer; be  we Artisans, Professionals, Farmers, Engineers, Teachers, Pharmacist, Politicians, Traders, whatever! Enough of waiting on Politicians, Government or certain ones we perceive better-off to set agenda for our lives.  Our conversations must change from negativism to emerging opportunities when we sit for a sip to stretch our backs from labor.

A most fascinating thing about the human mind is that it produces best when challenged, then the mind calls to its deepest. When offered a lemon let us make lemonade! Forget the past but remember the lessons therefrom. There is only now and the future, make those count! Everyone has value. Let us at every opportunity seek to recognize, appreciate and encourage that value; amazing things can happen therefrom!

 

Education

To use this opportunity, for those who may have the ears of the current government, our educational sector requires a surgical emergency!

“Education is too critical to be left to the vagaries and vagueness of executives cum politicians who are more interested in contracts than in the sound nurturing and culturing of tomorrows minds.  The incoming generation is atrophying right before our very eyes! WHAT USE FOR A SOCIETY THAT FAILS TO RAISE A BETTER GENERATION AFTER ITSELF? That society self-extincts, but first is savagery, then slavery. This appeal is to us all, those in Government, Teachers, Parents and our Traditional institutions.

I’ve heard the Vice President (Prof. Osinbajo), say on education and I quote “there will be complete restructuring of the sector to include 21st century workplace skills; revised curriculum to highlight critical thinking, innovation and numeracy skills; science and technology development and teacher training.” May we include the streamlining of administration of our Secondary School education, the abolishment of discriminatory grades into tertiary institutions, and the re-introduction OF AFRICAN AND NIGERIAN HISTORY into our school curriculum.

Got a shocker recently, that our best secondary school here has 7 teachers, inclusive of Principal and Vice-Principal; they teach about 36 subjects to over 400 students from JSS1 through SSS3. Am told this particular school is among the very lucky ones, as most others have only one or two teachers. Interestingly, in this same area, some schools have ratio 4:6, that is 4 students to 6 teachers. There are over 20 secondary schools in  Mopa area alone, all under different administrative systems: SUBEB, STTEB (Science Technical and Technology Education Board), TSC (Teaching Service Commission), LGSS (Local Government Secondary School), etc. Why so many different administrations?  This ought be streamlined.

It goes beyond reasoning that Communities now contribute towards “Miracle Centres” because there is no other way to guarantee that students would pass SSCE and JAMB exams. I refuse to contemplate the future of these young lads. I urge the Community and the Government to take this educational sector very very seriously, even if it is the only legacy they can leave! Here, Education used to be our Legacy!. God bless our Youth Corpers (NYSC) who have stood in the gap for us. May your children never lack.

Of Democracy and Politics

I am over 2 scores now and have seen political parties come and go. You know them, the Action Group, NPN, NCNC, UNCP, SDP, NRC, ANPP, AC, APC, PDP, APGA, Labour, SDM et al. Believe me, and HISTORY PREDICTS,  that they will pass away with time so long as there is no binding ideology premised on altruistic service to the people.

Democracy the world over is generally described “Government of the People, by the People and for the People”. Unfortunately, we copy and paste various ideologies but appear only to paste those aspects that seem to appeal to the banal cravings of a selfish few. The few who through flowery words, manipulation, lies and intimidation hijack our rights to impose themselves at our expense.

For me Democracy is very clear, as day light is from night. “Government is for the People, by the People and for the People,” “One man one vote!” Majority have their way while the minority has their say! This philosophy makes me abhor any form of aberration to a free and transparent democratic process. Whether it be hijack of elections (primaries or main), hijacking of voting process, election violence, inheritance of votes or denial of the right of the electorate to choose who governs and how they are governed. Hence any one, within a democracy, be he a Senator; Governor; President; Member of Parliament; Chairman; Councilor; or anyone at all, who comes in not by a clear majority will of the people is “personae non grata” and an impostor!

Our Local Governments are now footholds of siting Governors who conscript it to their buddies. The Local Government is a 3rd tier of Government and it is our right to choose our leaders into our local councils. Our Laws and Constitution MUST be clear that just as you cannot have caretaker Governors, or caretaker President, so we cannot have caretaker Chairmen within a Democracy! Local Government elections should be held and tenured just as State and Presidential Elections are held and tenured!

You may force on us your will, but never with our consent! Our consent, our voice, our votes should always be freely given, never to be bought and never to be taken away from us!

As I conclude,

 “Those who have the ability, which goes beyond just providing for your own needs, have a responsibility and an opportunity to reach down and lift up those people who do not have that ability and opportunity. IF YOU DON’T REACH DOWN, ONE DAY IS GOING TO COME WHEN THE SHEER WEIGHT OF THEIR NUMBERS, WILL REACH UP AND PULL YOU DOWN”. Your influence today, the one you help today, reaches far down history more than you can ever imagine.

Let me use this opportunity to thank the ECWA church, they have been such magnificent angels since over 100 years. That Hospital at Arungbo proved its history to my family recently. To me, what more service of the church? It is certainly not my business to judge or question the faith or practices of another but I do remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 25:34- “For I was hungry and you gave me  and you clothed Me, I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me…..Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me”

I see a glorious rising,

Yes a new Jerusalem;

A land of Milk and Honey;

The land of Imon- papo

Welcome with us a new century

Vibrant with hope and budding opportunities

With Gait, Happiness and Joy, let the children sing songs of

Lofty memories of our forebears, those heroes who made all the differences and our name, Mopa today, is spread good the world over!

Finally brethren,

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep His Commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every man’s work into judgment, including every secret thing whether good or evil.”  Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14.

Kabiyesi sir, may your reign be long, fruitful and peaceful!

I thank you all for your time.

God bless you all!

God bless Mopa!

Your son and brother,

– Gbenga Ezekiel


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