By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja.
His Royal Majesty, the Atta Igala, Dr Matthew Opaluwa Oguche-Akpa II has appealed to Hydro-Electric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) to help upscale healthcare facilities in flood ravaged Local Government Areas in the state
The Royal Father who is also the President Kogi State Traditional Council made the call when the Managing Director of HYPPADEC, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Yelwa led his management team on a courtesy visit to his palace in Idah on Tuesday.
The team which was on a tour of the six most affected Local Government Areas by the 2022 flooding, was out to meet the affected communities members to appraise the Commission’s interventions.
The Commission also planned to use the opportunity to seek better ways of mitigating possible effects of 2023 flood which according to NiMET, may surpass that of last year.
The Atta-Igala said the 2022 flood was devastating as it destroyed a lot of communities’ sources of livelihood and left a lot of health issues on its trail adding that the facilities on ground could not cope with the health demands.
Oguche-Akpa II commended HYPPADEC for its intervention so far saying, “In the short time that I have been here as Atta-Igala, I have seen your handwriting and signatures on walls around here.
“With your team you did marvelous job alleviating hardship and providing succour to affected communities during last year (2022) flooding in Kogi state.
“You’ve done a lot for us but we still need more. We want you to upgrade our health Care facilities especially, the Idah General Hospital. Do this for us and we will be very grateful.
“Four Local Governments, Ibaji, Idah, Igalamela and Ofu, depend on the Idah General hospital. Flood has ravaged everywhere here and nowhere is spared, no clean drinking water”, he said.
The Atta-Igala also urged the Commission to critically look into the issue of Ibaji road where the flood destroyed farmlands, crops and completely cut off 67 communities from civilisation.
Responding, the Managing Director of HYPPADEC Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Yelwa said there was need to be proactive and heed the weather forecast for 2023 as released by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) to prevent human, economic and environmental catastrophe.
The Managing Director who also hold the traditional title of Katukan Yauri, said it was against this backdrop that the Commission was being proactive as he promised to look into the health facilities issue.
Hee pledged to redouble the Commission’s medical outreach programme this year.
“We have studied the situation in Ibaji and we are trying to see what we can do to improve movement of the communities.
We also trying to intervene in renovating some of the schools there.
“And of course there are some existing intervention demands you have forwarded to the Commission that are not limited to ibaji but all the affected communities in Kogi state” Yelwa said.
The Managing Director however implored the paramount ruler and communities in his domain to be patient with the Commission saying, “It is very very difficult for us to deliver on our mandate to all the communities at once.
“We have 1,808 communities requesting our interventions. But we will continue to do our best and with your prayers, we are confident that we will achieve the desired goals”, he said.
Highlight of the visit was the conferment of Chieftiancy title of “Abeneche Atta-Igala” (Atta’s confidant and helper) on the Managing Director with his official turbaning by HRM Oguche-Akpa II. (Ends)
Ata Igala inaugurates 7-member caretaker panel for ICDA
The Ata Igala, His royal Majesty, Gabaidu, Matthew Opaluwa Oguche Akpa has inaugurated a seven member caretaker committee for the Igala Cultural Development Association (ICDA) with a charge to hit d ground running and constitute a new executive for the socio cultural organization of Igala/Bassa people of Kogi state.
Speaking during the inauguration at his palace in Idah on Tuesday, his royal Majesty declared that time has come for the voice of the Igala/Bassa people to be heard far and wide and be respected in the comity of nations.
He stressed that for that to be achieved, a credible leadership which is apolitical, competent credible, capable and committed must emerge for the new leadership of the ICDA.
His Majesty expressed his desire to ensure that igala Bassa nation regains it’s lost glory being among the first ten ethnic nationalities in the country.
He assured the committee of his utmost support for d success of their assignment but warned them to be guided against any acts of sabotage from within and outside.
Responding on behalf of the committee, the chairman, pastor Immanuel Ameadaji assured of the resolve of the committee to do a good job that will stand the test of time and equally produce a credible leadership for ICDA. Other members of the committee are Mrs Comfort Musa secretary, Chief doctor elukpo, Barrister salihu Ahmed, Bartholomew Ademu, Honourable Gowon Omale and Chief Ibrahim Atadoga.
When the 49th Ata revived Italo festival to reawaken the Igalas’ consciousness
By John Danjuma
The Igala nation was electrified recently when it celebrated the Ujeju Ogwu (Italo) with pump and pageantry on December, 30/31st, 2022 after 11 years of non activity.
In the wisdom of the organizers of the event, politicians were not given the leverage to make speeches to avoid the political violence that put the Italo (Ujeju Ogwu) in abeyance for 11 years.
The worst thing that could ever happen to any race is for its people to be unable to come together with one voice, which became the lot of the Igala nation for over 11 years after the Ujeju Ogwu Igala (Italo) was suspended.
For the Igala nation, its horizon had been bleak for quite sometime with many tragedies starting with the death of Former Governor Abubakar Audu to that of a former Minister Barrister James Ocholi.
Hence, the Igala race that is aclaimed to be the 9th largest ethnic group in the country was no longer in the scheme of things both at the State and at the national levels.
Not impressed by the people he met that were not looking like his strong-willed and determined sons and daughters when he returned from hunting,
the 49th Ata Igala, His Royal Majesty, Agabaidu, Dr. Mathew Alaji Opaluwa Oguche-Akpa called for immediate restoration of the Ujeju Ogwu Igala (Italo) as the first necessary step to securing his people’s future, through putting heads together.
His call was made for Igala sons and daughters and in diaspora.
Thereafter, the 2022 Ujeju Ogwu Igala(Italo) which took place between December 30 and 31st 2022, as an answer to the yearnings for the festival that once served as an avenue for uniting all and sundry of the Igala nation both home and abroad.
As was witnessed, the event became a rallying point where sociopolitical and economic problems that affected the Igala nation were discussed and solutions found to ameliorate them.
The gathering also became an avenue where all personal grudges among the high profile Igala personalities were settled.
These were against the background that in the last one decade that the festival was outlawed society’s decay worsened, as every aspect of life was affected. The future of the homeland became bleak. There was no societal cohesion, no one to bell the cat until His Royal Majesty, Agabaidu, Dr. Mathew Alaji Opaluwa Oguche-Akpa returned.
At the event proper, which took place at the Prince Abubakar Audu University Stadium Anyigba, unprecedented mammoth crowd graced the event that is also a National day for the race.
All the Onu (chief) Igala in the 36 States and Abuja led by Onu Kaduna, Chief Joseph Idaikwo Olimene Ata who also double as chairman of Onu Igala Forum were in attendance.
Former Minister of health Arch. Gabriel Aduku stormed the venue with youths in T-shirts campaigning for violent free election in 2023
The Prince Abubakar Audu University stadium was filled to capacity by the time the Atta made his entry.
There were cultural groups from Local Government Areas and they took their turns in entertaining guests till the masquerades of Atta were audaciously presented with their dreadful predilection. They are the royal masquerades.
Politicians were tamed as they not allowed to make speeches to avoid the political violence that put the Italo (Ujeju Ogwu) in abeyance for 11 years, the political violence between thugs of PDP and ANPP in 2011 at the same venue.
Dignitaries at the event included Senator Isa Jibrin (Echocho), former National Women Leader of the APC, Hajia Salamatu Baiwa, Hon. Hassan Baiwa, Arch Gabriel Aduku, former minister of State for Labour, Prof Stephen Oceini, Ejeh Dekina Dr Usman Obaje, Eje Ibaji Ajofe John Egwemi, Eje Ofu HRH Obaje, Ojogba Ife, Ohiegba Mozuni Kabir, all Royal coucellors led by chief Emmanue Onucheyo, all beaded women.
A paper, entitled, Towards proper use of the Igala language: ‘Speaking Frankly to Ourselves and our Children was presented by Professor Gideon S. Omachonu of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
The paper examined the current State of the Igala Language studies and proper usage.
His paper spoke to many issues as it admonished the native speakers to do whatever is possible to work towards improving the chances of Igala Language surviving in the midst of the multitudes of languages in Nigeria0
His Royal Majesty in his speech said it was remarkable that after an eleven -year hiatus, “The annual celebration of cultural heritage has resumed, we give all honor, glory, and gratitude to the Lord God Almighty who has made this possible. We welcome you all most warmly.
He prayed for the sustainance of the festival as he mentioned that the Italo remains the only Royal festival of the Attah to be held outside the ancestral and spirtual headuaters.
“Over the years, Italo served as congruent of Igala unity and socio cultural cohesion. We must retum to these ideals. A situation where the Italo is used to disrespect and embarrass, the Attah instituton which is centuries old cannot be tolerated. “I therefore appeal to all Children
who are in politics to exhibit decorum and decency. We must echew thuggery, it is not our culture or character.”
He expressed the hope that the events that led to the suspension of Italo will not be repeated
“Today we are a picture of devastation from massive neglect, self destruction and erosion of social and societal values. The absence of this annual assembly has meant lack of proper focus on the society and the challenges of development.
“We therefore now have a huge burden for competent leadership. The followership must embrace education in all its ramifications. We must imbue personal values, honesty, hard-work, respect for others, orderliness, self-discipline, self-reliance, etc. The interest of the community should be superior to individual rights. “
According to him, an Igala Culture Policy Document is now required to chart and guide our language studies, music, art, and various aspects of life.
“A lot of intellectual work is required if we are to achieve our goals. Do we have active lgala historians, anthropologists, linguistics, etc? The Igala biochemist/nutritionist must go into Igala dietetics, lawyers go into lgala jurisprudence, pharmacists, and doctors into Igala medicines.
“Who would study our peculiar food stuffs like lrere, Ogoma, for the purpose of boosting their production? The lgala engineers, who should study the Igala science and technology, the Igala civilization?
He pointed out that, the Federal Government’s recent pronouncements on the re-introduction of the teaching ¢ history and mother tongue are of great interest to the race.
“Our retired history and mother tongue teachers must come out of retirement, even if it means not getting properly renumerate, half salary.
“The Owners of Schools and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) should respond appropriately. As a matter of urgent importance, all teachers of pure arts and science subjects should also come out of retirement to address our educational gap. We will be available to pursue further discussion on this.
He appealed for renewed strength of character and unity of purpose. “This is the way to face the future, we should not sit back and sulk. Permit me to repeat the words of World War Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill to his people after complete devastation of the war and the urgent need for massive rebuilding of infrastructure.
He said, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing great or small or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force, never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy’. Churchil concluded, this is our “finest hour’.
After the successful event many Igala Stakeholders Commended Ata Igala or restoring ITALO Festival
A former commissioner of the Independent Electoral commission (INEC) , His Royal Highness Dr Emmanuel Onucheyo, commended the Ata for the restoration of Italo and for the massive turn-out of people during the celebration at the Prince Abubakar Audu University stadium, Anyigba.
He called on all Igala to unite for a common goal.
Chief Onucheyo who is a member of Ata – in – council/ Royal Councilors , said their functions specifically entailed the deliberations on issue before passing it to Ata for his final endorsement.
He advised the youths to refuse to be used as thugs by politicians as he admonished them to remained focused to pursue their desired goals.
He encouraged the youths specifically to devote their maximum time to learn the Igala language so that they would be able to impact on their children.
According to him coming together in unity will be the strongest weapon against underdevelopment.
Earlier the chairman of the Ujeju Ogwu Igala in 2022, Dr Paul Amodu called on all Igala Sons and Daughters both home and in diaspora to embrace peace and unity for the growth and development of Igala land.
Dr Amodu who was the former Chief Medical Director, Specialist Hospital Lokoja said the development of Igala land depended on Igala unity.
In the same vein, the chairman of the planning committee , Chief Dr Jonathan Okpanachi commended the Ata for the success recorded within a space of three weeks of planning.
Going by the bitter experience of politicl rivalry which put the event on hold for 11years he said that in re- awakening the event , the committee ensured that no political posters of any kind was brought or placed at the venue.
Dr okpanachi said the revival of the Ujeju Ogwu Igala would ensure the restoration of the lost glory of Igala tradition and Culture.
Okey-dede emerges Eze Ndigbo in Mpape
The Igbo community in Abuja has crowned Chief Amb. Engr. Kingston Okey-dede, as the Igwe Obata-Obie, the Ochigbo II in Mpape, Bwari Area Council of the FCT.A statement by the Media Consultant to the Igwe Obata-Obie, the Ochigbo II of Mpape, Precious Chukwudi indicated that the event, which took place at the Aco Estate, Life camp, home of HRM Eze Dr. Ibe Nwosu, the Eze Igbo 1 of Abuja, saw the making of an Igbo King in it’s finest tradition as the entire ICA FCT and other stakeholders, led by Eze Dr. Ibe Nwosu, performed the coronation rituals amid soul-lifting Christian songs, to the consternation of all.He quoted Okey-dede to have indicated that his decision to take the title was to fulfill several prophesies in the past about him that there was a crown on his head.
“So, when the Mpape unit of the Igbo Community in Abuja approached me to be the Eze Ndigbo in Mpape, I couldn’t turn it down because I saw it as a fulfilment of those prophesies,” he said.
According to the statement the new king is expected to make peace whenever there is a dispute between the Igbo and any other ethnic group in Mpape.
He promised to use his influence and resources to ensure peace and wellbeing of the Igbo in Mpape, even as he charged them to cooperate and be loyal to him for that to happen.
President-general of the Igbo Community in Abuja, Hon. Leonard Eboh, said the significance of the event was the replication of tradition and culture in the FCT.
“Today, we crown him the Ochigbo II of Mpape, six years after the demise of the late kin John Ossai, Ochigbo I who has joined his ancestors.
“We do that to bring about peace during crisis between the Igbo in Mpape and any other ethnic group, the Sarkin Mpape will send for him and the problem will be resolved amicably.”
Accordjng to him, since they started having an Eze in Abuja, there have been no ethnic crisis involving the Igbos,” he said.
Eboh stressed that the title of Eze was only conferred on those with good track records of service to humanity, saying that Okey-dede was picked for the honour because of his generosity and humanitarian service especially to Igbos in Mpape.
Okey-dede’s wife was equally crowned the Ugo Eze 1 of Mpape during the event in the presence of his Chief of Staff, Eze Dr. Charles Olisekwe, Eze Ndigbo in Garki, and the palace secretary of Eze Igbo 1, Eze Amb. D. Anyagala (Ochiliozwor) who is also the Eze Igbo Gawagwa.
Among those who spoke at the event include Chief David Olumba (Eze-Udo), a cabinet member to late Ochigbo I of Mpape, the chairman of ICA Mpape unit, Mr. Emmanuel Awa, the immediate past chairman of ICA Mpape unit, Prince Ikenna Motuanya aka presido.
Chief David Olumba who is a cabinet chief of the late Ochigbo I of Mpape, likened the Igbo to the Israelites of the Bible days. He said, in those days, the Israelites were the only people that had the right to crown their kings outside their homeland. “The Igbos are part and parcel of Abraham and wherever they go they must have a leader who can stand on behalf of other Igbo. In the city of Abuja, many Igbo don’t understand Hausa or any other native language spoken there, so if there is any problem, the Igbo King will meet the Sarkin Mpape and find a solution to such problems,” he said.
He therefore enjoined the Igbo community in Mpape to submit to the leadership of Eze Kingston Okey-dede as the recognized Ochigbo II and work together to guarantee peace and unity of Ndigbo in Mpape.
Highpoint of the occasion was libation by the Eze Igbo 1 of Abuja and blessing of the newly crowned Eze Igbo Mpape while emphasizing that Mr. Fabian Ike was never been crowned Ochigbo Mpape as he couldn’t fulfill the requirements for his coronation despite four years of waiting as against six months required traditionally.
Dignitaries that graced the occasion include Mr. Celestine Ochiagha, Mr. Vincent Ezekwem, Sir Tony Chibueze, Ichie Nze Ernest Nwaiwu, Mr. Fidelis Obri, Chief Peter Umezuruike, Mrs. Ijeoma Richard, Mr. Princewill Odoegbeluem, Engr. Daniel Okoro, among others.
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