By Jonathan Jibrin
Agabaidu, Attah Ali Otulukpe Ocheja Obaje is the 26th Ata Igala of the Ayegba Oma-Idoko Dynasty. His reign is a trajectory of the conflicts(Physical and metaphysical) which dominates the Igala race for 56 years. His transition on the 16th of July 2012 thus brings into reality the cosmic affinity with his progenitors.
Born in 1920 into the famous Royal family of Akumabi the second son of Ayegba Oma Idoko on the genealogy of Itodo Aduga Rulling House. His Royal Majesty had his first taste of western education at the Idah Government School where he displayed great love for both scholarship and sports.
In 1927, his father Late Ata Obaje Ocheje and some colonial officers, then resident in Idah attended the Empire day Sports and were overwhelmed by the young Aliu Obaje,s amazing victory in a wrestling match. So overjoyed, his father ordered the royal trumpeters and drummers to play in honor of the young Aliyu Obaje. One of the colonial officer’s there declared “Indeed he performed excellently” a signal that one day Ali may become the Ata Igala.
His Royal Majesty, attended the Dekina Elementary school 1932-1934, Okene middle school 1934-1838 after leaving Idah government school equipped with excellent educational background, his Royal Majesty was made a pupil teacher at Dekina Elementary school between 1939 to 1942, passing out during the Second World War when teachers were seriously needed to expand schools.
A man of many gifts Attah Aliyu Obaje was also an accountant with Kabba Native Authority Treasury from 1943 to 1944 where begot his eldest Son; Abdulkadir Kabba Aliyu Obaje. He later returned to Idah to work as a cost accountant under the defunct Igala Native Authority. He then moved to Kaduna as a clerk in the ministry of Education on transfer of service.He moved over to the institute of administration Zaria as a tutor from 1954 to 1956 after a successful course at the Zaria clerical college where Mr. Mc Curry was principal.
In February 1956 after the Visit of Her Mjesty Queen Elizabeth the II and the Duke of Edinburgh to Nigeria, Malam Aiyu Obaje (as he was then called) Salihu Ongyehu Abdulhi Halihu, Mohammed Ocheja, were transferred from the institute of Administration to Kaduna to start an in-service training course for clerks at the colonial Administration secretariat. In October 1956 by the grace of God, the great call of the people of Igala Kindom and the Ata King makers,(Igalamela) he was invited and installed as the Attah Igala on a second class status on 2nd of November. By the new year of 1957, he was promoted to first class status by Sir Sherwood smith, popularly known and called Maiwandon-Karfi, thus becoming the first literate Muslim scholar to be installed an Attah Igala.
He was a member of the Northern Nigerian team led by late Sardauna of Sokoto Sir Ahmodu Bello KBE GCON, then premier of Northern region to the Lancaster talks of 1957 along with the late Emir of Kano Alhaiji Sanusi, Emir of Katsina Alhaji Sir Usman Nagogo the late Emir of Ilorin Alhaji Sulu Gmabari .These great men were also appointed ministers of cabinet rank along with His Royal Majesty Alhaji Dr Aliyu Obaje.The served two terms before the 1966 coup d’état. He was then a member of various organizations, educational and governmental.
In 1963, he was honored by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with the British title of Commander of the Most distinguished Order of the British Empire(CBE). The federal Government of Nigeria honored him with Commander of the most distinguished Order Of the Niger(CON) In 1964.He became chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society in 1965.
The Man Aliyu Obaje saw the evolution of Nigeria from Colonial through military and civilian dispensation; especially the quest for equity for the Igala people. The 1967 creation of 12 States the first ever in Nigeria by General Yakubu Gowon, saw what is now known as the Eastern part of Kogi State the Igala Bassa people being merged to Kwara and his Royal Majesty became member and vice chairman of Kwara State council of Chefs from 1967 to 2nd February 1976.
Again in 1976, when late Gen Marutala Mohammed announced the creation of Abuja as the new Federal capital Territory and the restructuring of the sates to 19 state structure he became member and vice President Benue State council of Chiefs. 1976 was very significant for Ata Aliyu Obaje because apart from witnessing yet another state creation during his reign he performed the Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca. He was the almiru-Hajj for Benue State. By this period he had served his people20 years on the throne.
In 1991, His Majety,s labor for equity and development for the Igala people paid off yielding him good fruits when on August 27th Kogi State with 8 other States were created. Thus making His Royal Majesty Ata Igala member and President Kogi state council of chiefs till date. By this he became President of Igala Area Traditional Council and member state Security Council.
He is member, Board of trustees Cancer aid Foundation of Nigeria. Member of National council of States. Elected member Fellow Institute of Administrative Management of Nigeria in 1992.he was honored by the Kogi State Government for Peace and Order in 1994. He was honored in 1995 with an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Law by the University of Lagos. A devout Muslim and he is one of the vice presidents of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). He had performed the holy pilgrimage to Mecca severally and in 1996 the Federal Government appointed him an Almir- Hajj.
Although no date were shown against the names of each of the reigning Atta Igala from the first to the ninth, dates commenced from the 10th Ata Igala . Attah Ekele- Aga who was assassinated in 1883.From all indications it appears that the longest reigning Attah amongst the twenty one is the incumbent Ata Aliyu Obaje. His late Father Attah Obaje Ocheje, the 19th Attah reigned from 1926-1945 (19 years)
Ata Aliyu Obaje,s Daily routine is surrounded by services of a galaxy of high level- red cap chiefs as his royal councilors led by the Achadu, Alhaji Yusufu Ameadaji. A peaceful family man he took his first wife in 1940 Hajia Hauwa of blessed memory. He is blessed with children and many grand children. His hobbies are Farming and Hunting. He was a marksman and above all a Statesman.
His Philosophy of life is “LIVE AND LET OTHERS LIVE” Agaba idu Ata Igala Ojo ki duwei e buche aludun kimatene ko omone ki che efilei Ojo kila detemo nwuwa pee ta, amin.
Emphatically, traditionally culturally, and authoritatively, the Ata Igala has been and he is still the Supreme ruler of Igala land despite the dynamism of political evolution of the Nigerian nation. As long as the Ata Igala means father of all Igalas, he will continue to maintain his position as the Supreme ruler of Igala Kindom.
The king lives for ever Gaba idu ugba ko Ojo gwe
By Jonathan Jibrin