It is an age long gist of reality bequeathed on the people through oral traditions and written records juxtaposing successful conquest and victories of the Igala nation in yesteryears perhaps witnessing the first blow of defeat in the 21st century due to the over indulgence of egocentric personalities lacking basic prerequisites of ethnic morality embedded in the ancient Igala communities. This systemic practice without antics of honesty, selflessness, oath of secrecy, communal pursuits and above all unity in diversity is now scarce amongst folks of Igala extraction due to aberrant lifestyles candidly sufficed in the opening lines of this highlight.
In reverence of Ibegwu Ane’Igala, I will strive to restrain this admonition from escalating to become another product of ‘washing our dirty linens in public’ but that notwithstanding, the resentment that propelled my passionate injunction especially as it concerns the topic at stake must be addressed amicably – without fear nor favour – but certainly in good faith. The Igala race must get it right, now or never because this is an ample time to tell ourselves the scariest truth. Let me further reiterate clearly: before politics, we are first of all Igalas. By virtues of biological affinities we belong to the royal stocks of Atiyele and Ayegba Om’Idoko thus the bond we share is beyond any political affiliation.
Let me not deviate from the subject matter. Truth be told, the core mandate of Igala Agenda died in the 20th century precisely on the 6th day of November, 1999 when the great Alapa, Dr Steven Omakoji Achema tragically transited to the great beyond. Factual stories of Achema’s uncommon sacrifice for the Igala Nation shall be told till the end of time because the last cake of Igala Agenda was baked in his personal oven for the betterment of our race. The cake was served to the people with less dissatisfaction but the new Chef was sacked without predicting the tedious journey ahead. Ignorantly, the people he served their choice delicacies later alleged that the precious Chef was too proud and arrogant but nobody denied the fact that the new Chef was a good cook. Today, the agonizing effects of sacking the Chef who Dr Achema sacrificed his own personal interest for his (Audu) emergence is felt in every nook and cranny of Ane’Igala with degrading shanties of underdevelopment littered across the beautiful landscape of our individual extraction.
Let us not romance the truth. It was Igala Agenda that removed Audu from office and this was the first mistake that climaxed into the present day political confusion. Prince Abubakar Audu of blessed memories was a man of taste, wisdom and charisma; he was not the best Igala man that lived in his time. However, he commanded an enviable base of respect and attracted applaudable developments to Ane’Igala and Kogi state in general when he governed but he could not survive the lashes of Igala Agenda when the hullabaloo of “change dole” suffocated his reelection bid in 2003. His predecessor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris built on his legacies and handed over power to Captain Idris Ichala Wada. Now, let’s go back to the memory lane. Wada enjoyed the nomination of Ibro the same way Bello anointed Ododo but in the case of Ibro, his choice candidate was a retired Captain from a different Local Government Area in Kogi state. In that election, Alhaji Jibrin Isah Echocho was dumped on the eve of his emergence for reasons best known to Governor Ibrahim Idris. In the process, Igala Agenda witnessed another troubling divide that would metamorphose into a blurry picture in 2023.
In 2015, Prince Abubakar Audu won his reelection bid but was recalled home by the creator of mankind paving the way for the incumbent governor of Kogi state to inherit his votes – this lacuna is still argued in some quarters but interestingly it is now a law. Votes garnered in any election belong to the political party not the candidate in question. When Bello assumed duties, his closest ally from Ane’Igala was appointed as Chief of Staff. Before this time, the demise of Audu created another division in the camp of Igala Agenda; initially many supporters of Audu were not happy with Bello’s ascension. In Kogi West for instance, the public outcry was an obvious disbelief because their own son James Faleke who was Audu’s deputy and he was anticipated to be sworn in as Governor.
Again in Ane’Igala, a league of formerly aggrieved parties (especially supporters of Echocho) were on standby to work with the new direction government of Yahaya Bello but another problem crippled their willingly standby resolutions. In no distant time, critics pointed accusing fingers at the then Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja who they claimed denied them access to the Governor. Amidst many battles of relevance and supremacy, Igala Agenda further suffered deadly blows with the arrest of ambivalent comrades of Igala extraction because the agitation was endless. Igala natives later classified any of their kinsman working closely with Yahaya Bello as a threat. The last horse which broke the horses back was a purge of the State Civil Service in the early days of Yahaya Bello’s reign in office. No doubt, many Igalas were affected by the exercise but instead of blaming the Governor for this action, Edward Onoja their own brother received the bulk of the blame. In all of these, Igala Agenda suffered a disastrous deceit which ushered in the ugliest phase of Ajipu (pocket) agenda.
Today, in preparation for the 2023 Kogi Gubernatorial Election, many supporters of Yahaya Bello in the 2019 election abruptly made a U-turn to rekindle the hope of Ane’Igala by preaching the doctrines of Igala Agenda without tracing the underlying factors that weakened the prospects of the Igala nation from 2003 till date. Amongst every twelve there is certainly a Judas but if only the traitors –wolves in sheep’s clothing can be identified on time – it would guarantee the triumph of Igala Agenda. At the moment, many informants of Yahaya Bello are featured in this struggle as foot soldiers, leading many ignorant battalions seeking the thrive of Igala Agenda. These sets of ‘comraids’ preach Igala Agenda in the day but sneak to receive mouth washing stipends at night from their sponsors. Let us not deceive ourselves, a warrior who is determined to go to the battlefield will not seek the permission of his newest bride. This is not a bait to discourage us but we must be guided accordingly.
Furthermore, Igala Agenda should not be centered on the ambition of a particular candidate. Let it resound its originality of nomenclature as an ethnic interest orchestrated to grant the much needed difference. However, at the end of the game if a consensus candidate does not emerge then it is a clearer indication that the Igala race is not ready to win the forthcoming election. For instance, in Okun and Ebira land, the people are resolute to support their kinsmen who were able to clinch the party tickets of the PDP and APC respectively but in Ane’Igala, we are still shopping for a game changer. Still in Ane’Igala, so many people who are beneficiaries of the GYB government have resolved to work for Ododo (the flower boy).
Now, what is the hope of Igala Agenda when some of our brethren prefer to insult other Igala candidates and their supporters because to them a particular candidate must win the next election bereft of foundational homework? This is pathetic but at the same time it comically irritates. The onus lies on high ranking political heavyweights of Igala origin to initiate a truce because it is not yet UHURU. Conclusively, strategies concerning the forthcoming election should be taken off the social media. At the same time, efforts should be put in place to abrogate the presence of elsewhile traitors (the Judas) in any meetings where Igala Agenda is to be discussed because these political sellouts are more concerned about their earnings than the yearnings of the people. But our collective destinies are now at stake.
In recent times, political events in Kogi state have further heated the polity with Ane’Igala suffering the resultant effect. Within a space of two weeks, the newly built hotel of a former APC supporter located in Ejule was razed down by arsonists who were alleged to have carried out the act in military uniforms. The same week, Alhaji Muritala Yakubu a frontline gubernatorial candidate had a convoy faceoff with the governor and was denied access to campaign in Kogi state. Days after, the only Radio Station in Kogi East was vandalized in broad daylight without any form of counter by the agitators of Igala Agenda. Any agenda that is divided turns out to be a noisemaking spree. It is only when the lip is compressed that it can produce a whistling sound therefore we must preach and showcase unity in diversity before embracing any form of agenda.
To this end, anticipatory success of Igala Agenda is a wakeup call for all sons and daughters of the ancient kingdom to do the needful. It is not a one man’s business or responsibility. Therefore, if at all we wish to get it right at this juncture, the first step is to pursue the templates of reconciliation with a bid to crush the negative effects of Ulena, Ulaka and Ukpalu. If forgiveness is not considered then the journey ahead is just beginning. Be that as it may, retired proponents of ENEOMUNEME should not speak from both sides of their mouth because the Igala nation is yet to recover from the wildfire ignited by them and their cohorts of mischief. We can only forgive but it is very difficult to forget the footprints they left on the sands of time perhaps till the emergence of another Governor of Igala origin. Secondly, these set of people are likened to be the prodigal son who have choose to return home on their own accord but they should not take unnecessary laws into their hands by attempting to compel anyone to support their choice candidates because Igala Agenda is not drafted to champion the ambition of any personality rather it is an ethnic interest birthed from the time of our forefathers.
In allusion to history, the pioneer traitors of Igala Agenda were our kinsmen who petitioned Ata Ameh Oboni in 1956. From that time till date, Ane’Igala have not witnessed peace – take it or leave it. I would not want us to dwell on past mistakes but we must retrace our steps by peeping into the darkest vessels of past events. In contemporary assessment, the activities of some political yahoo comrades is another ugly cankerworm that has eaten deep into the conscience of our youths. It is heart wrenching to witness political jobbers disguised as comrades in this milieus; these set of Igala youths are pursuing Ajipu Agenda in full glide of treachery. The Igala nation should be committed to the course of revamping our ethnic clause because the best time to act is NOW.
We must not be discouraged. Alas, we shall sing a song of victory!
– Ajogwu Jerry Ochada, a journalist, writes from Abuja.