Women Inclusion in Governance as a Remedy for Igala Socio-Political Instability

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History has it that sometime in the sixteenth century during the trouble period for the Igala race, Inikpi offered herself as a sacrifice, to be buried alive, in order to save the entire Igala Kingdom from destruction in a war that was poised to annihilate her people from the surface of the earth. Inikpi offered herself for sacrifice as divined by the oracle to ascertain victory for the Igala people.

Before Inikpi episode, Omodoko, the daughter of Idoko was sacrificed during the Igala-Jukun war by the River Inachalo’s bank with the Jukun army en route to Idah.

The sacrifice of Omodoko ascertains the triumph of Igala over the Jukun of the modern day Taraba State. Idoko was the Atta Igala during the Igala-Jukun war.  Inikpi; the daughter of Ayegba Idoko died in a similar circumstance by burial in the Igala-Bini war and by the banks of the River Niger, where her statue still stands today along the only route of the Bini forces to Idah. By then, her father, Ayegba Oma-Idoko, was the Attah Igala.

The revolutionary actions of Attah Idoko and His son Ayegba in the sacrifice of their daughters, the beloved princesses, in order to liberate the kingdom represent an historical force struggling to realize a future society for the Igala race. During this period, Igala was one of the few progressive and developed ethnic groups in Nigeria as the people acknowledged the sacrifices made by the Attas and the obedience of their daughters.

Inikpi lamented the objective, but submitted her life for the people; unlike today when rulers of our kingdom (politically and culturally) proclaim their patriotism, but upon their assumption of office, they promptly betray the people. The structures left by colonial rule have denied the people the right to condemn these rulers, though they have plunged the kingdom into political instability. The history of Idoko and Ayegba and those of their daughters were simply patriotism and obedience. Patriotic action as saving entire race and promoting the concern of the people of Igala at their worst moments. Unpatriotic actions of our leaders and the neglect of those who laid down their lives for the entire race to live has plunged us into lawlessness, selfishness, greed, and with unrelenting efforts mirror the looting of the common wealth by the elites to the detriment of the productive section of our race – the workers, the peasants – revealing the gap between the rich and the poor, the utter neglect of the rural society, the pursuit of education policy as a privilege rather than sine qua non for the preparation of the youth as tomorrow’s leaders.

Inikpi Princess – Blue Blood running in her vein, the most beloved of all the Attah children. The demand from the oracle is that she is most needed. The best of gods needed, despite hesitation, but she is willing to give herself, to die for the land to be saved; selfless sacrifice. As the war drew nearer, Atta Ayegba and Inikpi remained moody, the expression of Atta’s love for Inikpi was too great and sincere. The message of the Oracle for the Atta to sacrifice his beloved daughter was too heavy, doleful, mournful and heartbreaking to be announced by a loving father and what was Inikpi’s reaction? She dearly sympathized with her father, yet, what did she do? Did she commit suicide instead of waiting for the slow death of her life burial prescribed nobody this oracle or did she run away from the land never to return? read what the beloved child of Ayegba Omaldoko said: “oh Baba, my lord, your highness, the king of iron house, the one and only father our ancestors gave me  precious gift from the gods to whom I am most Beloved I have seen your response to the request from our ancestors. Let nothing prevent the victory of our people. Whatever must be given out to bring prestige and honour to you and to your land should not be delayed. Give no second thought to the verdict of the oracles. For he who does not bend to the gods will be bent. Your fatherly love and concern have been seen. I have decided that our ancestors prevail so that your life and those of your people will be saved from the pending destruction. Baba, it is very painful, very hard to bear, but more pains and disaster will befall the land if the call of the oracle is treated with contempt. Be glad and honored that your daughter though beloved. Let me die if my death will give life to my people. Oh baba, you can still have another daughter to love, but let me go first. I am ready to die for the land”.

So, Inikpi died for the entire generation of Igala; including you and I of Igala origin reading this piece. After the war, Igala kingdom became prosperous in commerce and education with establishment of Igala Native Education centres.

There was free education for the Igala sons and for obvious reason; women were not encouraged to go to school at that time. The likes of Peter Achimugu, Prof F.S Idachaba and the only Nigerian Physicist ever nominated for Nobel Prize; Prof Gabriel Oyibo were products of free education.

Our leaders and followers must see to the issue of self-sacrifices so that their enemies will not consume the whole Igala people. The rulers should be able to sacrifice their time, money, or whatever forms. The current situation of Igala race should be a big source of worry for those who wear the diadem, political class, academia, businessmen, farmers and the artisans of Igala origin.

We have no unity today, no rally point and are conspicuously missing in the affairs of the nation that was so proud of Igala race irrespective of our intellectual capital and academic prowess. We cannot move forward as a people if we continue to treat Igala women with disdain and scorns because they are magnetic successes of our corporate existence.

As revealed by history; Igala’s prosperity is centred on our women and their continuous neglect in leadership positions will spell doom for our kingdom. The return of democracy has been an uneasy dichotomy for the Igala race. While it springs up thuggery, hatred, disaffection, murder and unrest mainly orchestrated by the men in politics on one hand, Igala women in high places under the democratic dispensation remain the livewire of our youths as they continually scout for opportunities for them and subsequently engaging them in meaningful endeavours.

From our neighbouring states; Hajia Zainab Kure (Niger State) was senator for 8 years, Mrs Patricia Akwashiki (Nasarawa State) was Senator for 4 years, Mrs Margaret Ishen (Benue State) was Speaker State House of Assembly, Mrs Gbemisola Saraki (Kwara State) was senator for 4 years, Senator Uche Ekwunife and Stella Adaeze Oduah (Anambra State), Senator Fatimat Raji Rasaki (Ekiti State) and so many from other states.  The first thing to do at this moment of racial incoherent is critical and sincere restructuring that will provide an opportunity for our women to be part of key decision making processes, policy formulation and opportunity to participate in governance. Our women need to be celebrated to earn the blessings of Omodoko and Inikpi. From the Greek in Athens-Yorubas in Ife and the Igbos in Onitsha there exist annual cultural gathering of different ethnicity and race; we need to identify what unite us together as Igala cultural festival that can bring everyone of us together.  

The Atta’s charisma and influence as a leader is in having a cut with his people, making consultation and offering solutions to their problems; arduous task the current Atta (Ga’abaidu) and our leaders are presently saddled with. Second to the gods, Atta can confer and discuss with his people, on the level of humanity that he shares with them by showing how a contemporary leader who holds the mandate of the people should often consult with the people he is representing, even if he is unable to solve their problems, he can still listen to them and share his feelings with them.

The leader should listen to the demands of the people, no matter the cost, pains, and inconveniences, so far as the generality of the people will benefit from it. Leaders should make decisions based on this principle. The foreseeable remedy to our socio-political instability is to share leadership responsibilities with the women while engaging them in active governance.

– Onogwu Isah Muhammed

Lokoja, Kogi State.

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