Development and the Neglect of Igala land: Lamentation or a Clarion Call?

A cluster of houses in Dekina town (PHOTO: atayibabs)

By Usman Okai Austin
What about election madness ? Another big sickness in Igala Kingdom of late!!

Igala people are the dominant ethnic group, located at the Kogi east senatorial district of Kogi state with a projected population of about 60% of the entire state. The Igala people represent the dominant ethnic groups that were carved from Benue state and merged with the Kwara groups for the creation of Kogi state in 1991.

Throughout the successive civilian democratic polity since the creation of Kogi state, Igalas have produced all the Governors; Prince Abubakar Audu as the first Executive Governor in 1992, Audu was returned and served between 1999 – 2003. Ibrahim Idris succeeded Audu and served between 2003 – 2011 after serving out two terms. Idris Wada succeeded Ibrahim Idris as the third Executive Governor between 2011 – 2015.

During the 2015 Governorship election, Wada lost to Audu of APC who was coasting to victory but died a day to his announcement. This strange development expectedly created serious political brouhaha in the state. After much rancor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello who was the second runner off to Audu during the APC primary election was nominated by the party and declared winner of the said election. This signaled what can best be described as accidental power shift as for the first time an Egbira person of Kogi central extraction emerging as the Governor of the state. This unplanned and unhealthy political development is without doubt came with all the inherent victimization most especially in the areas of development against the Igala speaking area.

As if the shock of the death of Audu was not enough, no sooner had the Igalas withstood the death of Audu and emergence of Yahaya Bello as Governor, that James Ocholi SAN, a bonafide igala son and a serving minister of state in the Buhari-led government, died in a mysterious ghastly car accident which also took the lives of his wife and son. In fact, the vacuum created as a result of the death of Ocholi has not been filled till date.

As it is now, both at the state and federal levels, the Igala and Bassa people combined who represent the major ethnic groups in the state have no voice to speak for them most especially in the areas of the dire needs of the lacking development in Kogi east.

Igala today, is not Governor of Kogi state, is not the Speaker, nor the Chief Judge of the State nor the Secretary to the State Government but only managed to occupied the position of Deputy Governorship just to merely fulfill the constitutional requirements. At the federal level, Igala has no permanent secretary, no ambassadorial appointee, no Chairman , no Vice Chancellor and Registrar of federal universities. The list of the dehumanized and traumatized politically motivated marginalization against the people of Kogi east by the APC led governments are too obvious to mention. In fact, apart from Sen.Aidoko none of our elected federal representatives is either a chairman of any house committee or a deputy.

Non of Igala major towns of Ankpa, Idah, Dekina, Anyigba, Ugwolawo, Okpo, Abejukolo, Oguma, Imane, Abocho,Ajaka can boast of potable water, motorable township roads, let alone street lights. In fact electricity from the power holding to the Igala areas is non existent. Government owned hospitals in these towns are not just mere consulting clinics but slaughter slab. Primary and secondary schools in the area are identified with dilapidated infrastructures with pupil sitting on the bare floors and under the trees to learn.

We don’t have any functional Science Secondary School, Apart from the infrastructural challenges, teachers from these areas are owed salaries as much as 20 months with most of them dying almost on daily basis while some were politically declared as ghost even while alive. In addition, no major town in Igala and Bassa land can boast of functional drainage system.

Are we bewitched ? How can a region that held power since the creation of Kogi state be said to lack basic social amenities . The region is blessed with arable land and population to the advantage of other regions within the same state but instead of taking the advantage of political power we used it to do more harm than good?

That was the reason late Prince Abubakar Audu was commended for the establishment of the State University at Anyigba, received monumental attention from Alhaji Ibrahim Idris lead government through the appointment of Professor Francis Idachaba late, and unfortunately that same University which is the only developmental legacy in the Igala area is facing politically motivated decentralisation/balkanisation leading to its destruction, today Kogi state University is now loosing it numerous glory
Igala land, blessed with who is who in Nigeria, lacks common ground as everybody want to be seen the leader at the same time. By nature do we have leaders ? Yes, the Attah of Igala is seen as a father of igala kingdom and he is viewed as head who has autonomous power to summon every sons and daughters of igala kingdom for dialogue and seek for the way forward. Whether he is discharging that revered roles bestowed on him is another topic entirely.

Am not aware if any of such meeting between a monarch and his subjects has ever taken place since the assumption of the present Attah of Igala, HRM Michael Oboni II. Should he call the meeting, will they honour it? Can they reach any amicable resolution before him? Can Attah ask any Igala sons and daughters to drop his or her ambition for someone else he thinks is more capable ? Your guessing answers is the same as mine.

What of political leaders ? Those who supposed to assume that position are the ones creating more problems for the region as everybody wants to take glory. Majority of our leaders seem to be unaware that history will judge every individual especially those driven more by their personal interests.

We are our own enemy, it seems? Tell igala man that state creation is around the corner, every town wants to be the state headquarter.

What about election madness ? Another big sickness in Igala Kingdom of late. In fact Kogi state always lead when it comes to the number of aspirants for Governorship position, courtesy of ambitious Igala politicians with Supreme Court mostly at the final settling point in political disputes between and among Igalas.

The simple solution to the above hydra headed madness among the Igala and in Igala land, is unity and purposeful leadership to confront the current challenges and the imminent obvious ones ahead. Igala political leaders must bury and curtail their ego, rid ourselves of unnecessary envy and jealousy.

It is unimaginable that an igala man will write petition against another igala man. The dark forces working day and night to foist spirit of division must be put to shame now if we must progress.

Recently, at a gathering of Who is Who in Igala land at Transcorp Hotel, one of the guests who is a prominent person in the government of Kogi state today, openly declared that igala discriminate against Ogugu and Ibaji. My simple question is who truly is an igala person if such personality can in an undistinguished manner came up with such remarks? They can’t be igala without Ogugu , there is no igala without Ibaji and we must strongly condem this spirit of discrimination .

Igala must move forward. God bless Igala and Bassa land, God bless Kogi state. United we stand and divided we will continue to play second fiddle even when we are the majority. Let us all support the Igala Political summit as a starting point to deliberate ways forward.

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