The Igala are not alien to great, decisive and productive leadership. In constituting the Igala nation, Ayegba Idoko showcased decisive leadership; In the Igala-Bini/Portuguese war of 1515-1516, under the warrior King Ata Aji, we did not shy away from making the ultimate sacrifice in the face of superior firearms; In the British Bombardment of Igala Kingdom in 1896 and 1900, the Kingdom did not totter; during the Mahionu war of 1916-1917 the deft and sagacious leadership of Atabo Ijomi and Amanabo Ogili won us lasting peace; in the 1920s Onoja Oboni single-handedly inaugurated the colonization of neighbouring mini-Igbo states and the acculturation of the conquered territories as far as Aguleri and Okpanam; in Ameh Oboni leadership became selfless and sacrificial. Ata Aliyu Obaje brought an endearing stability in his over 50 years’ reign. The reign of HRH Michael Ameh Oboni II, the ancient cycle of prophetic expectations has come to pass. We are the privileged heirs of the legacies of these enviable leaders. We must latch onto these sacred histories of our inherited destinies, reclaim, rebuild and lead.
In recent years the betrayal of the Igala political elites and the mediocre leadership of many traditional rulers have left us all whistling in the dark. Now the Igala nation scrambles for crumbs of opportunities at both state and federal levels. This is no time for blame. This is the time to look forward with a collective strategy for a rebirth. A new spring time for Igala renaissance.
This is the time to free ourselves from the vicious circle of self-defeating alternatives. This is the time to go back to the drawing board and re-invent a trustworthy Igala leadership of the Igala nation and Kogi state. This is the time to pass on the baton to the next generation of leaders. This is no time for needless agonising over squandered opportunities for exemplary leadership. This is the time to look at our history with pride and look forward with grit and resilience. This is the time to succeed.
The Igala political leadership may be broke, but we are not broken as a people. Let us wield more intelligently the weapon of our numbers; let us rise from a place of thorough civic education; let us ride on the defiance of our history and become a force for good in Igala Kingdom, in Kogi state and in Nigeria.
We must shed off the adopted national temperament which combines empty pride, hollow aggressiveness, relentless arrogance, futile in-fighting, gross indiscipline and a skewed patriotism, and build from ground-up a mindset of justice, fairness, compassion and equity. This is the time to take advantage of hindsight, the lessons from our recent past, and propose a unified framework for Igala national renaissance.
The ground of my optimism is that together we chart a new path to a more resilient Igala cultural, political, economic and social identity in the comity of nations.
This column I have tagged Ka dabi Ilo: Sound it like the Bell! Will set out to
- Pioneer a call to revisit, rediscover and celebrate our cultural heritages.
- Promote a brand of Igala democratic socialism as a pathway to the future.
- Make a case for a more robust education that will position the Igalas to take advantage of the advancements in global technology and knowledge economy.