Connect with us


When the 49th Ata revived Italo festival to reawaken the Igalas’ consciousness



Share this story

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.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Again, indegenes cautions gov Oti over planned appointment of proposed ‘Mayor of Aba’




Share this story

***Say, its unconstitutional, aberration

The umbrella body of the 24 indigenous communities of Aba North and Aba South, in Abia state on the aegis of Indigenous People of Aba Ngwa, has cautioned governor Alex Otti against his planned appointment of a ‘Mayor of Aba’, describing the move as “not only unconstitutional, but also an aberration.”

The Aba indigenes also said that “appointing a non-indigene as the said ‘Mayor of Aba’, which has been said to be unconstitutional, is an insult on the sensibilities of the peaceful and hard-working indigenous people of Aba.”

In a communique issued after its meeting, which held Thursday, the Indigenous People of Aba Ngwa said vowed to resist any attempt capable of inciting violence in Aba city.

The communique released to newsmen Friday in Abuja and signed by Mr. Ogechukwu Ogbonna (Obama), Mr. Chintua Nwagba and Engr Obinna Greg, on behalf of the Indigenous People of Aba Ngwa, also expressed worry that Aba has been deliberately excluded by the Governor in his appointments into the State Executive Council and in the leadership of the markets.

The communique reads in parts: “The Indigenous People of Aba Ngwa, the umbrella body of the 24 indigenous communities of Aba North and Aba South met on Thursday, October 19, 2023 at Osusu Aba Town Hall. Arising from the well-attended meeting, the Forum issued the following resolutions:

“That we acknowledge that Dr Alex Otti whose duties, functions and actions are defined and guided by the Constitution of Nigeria and some other extant laws.

“That Aba is owned by the indigenous people drawn from the 24 communities of Aba-la-Ohazu.

“That we express our utmost disappointment at the comment credited to Dr Alex Otti, the Governor of Abia State, wherein he described Aba as a no-man’s land.

“That we are greatly worried that Aba has been deliberately excluded by the Governor in his appointments into the State Executive Council and in the leadership of the markets.

“That the proposed appointment of a ‘Mayor of Aba’ is not only unconstitutional, but also an aberration.

“That appointing a non-indigene as the Transition Committee Chairman of Aba is against the Abia State Local Government Transition Edict of 2002 which stipulates that the person appointed as a chairman shall be a native of the local government area.

“That appointing a non-indigene as the said ‘Mayor of Aba’, which has been said to be unconstitutional, is an insult on the sensibilities of the peaceful and hard-working indigenous people of Aba.

“That the actions of the Governor of Abia State in relation to appointments are tantamount to pushing the indigenous people of Aba into extinction, which is totally unacceptable to us.

“That we shall resist any attempt capable of inciting violence in Aba which the actions and utterances of the Governor are pointing towards.

“That in line with the old saying that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands, should the Governor plan to unconstitutionally foist a non-indigene on Aba as a Transition Committee chairman, he should do so in Umuahia, Bende, Arochukwu and other local government areas.

“That asking people who are not comfortable with the planned appointment of a non-indigene Mayor of Aba to go and hit their heads on the wall, is unbecoming of a governor elected by the people and capable of causing civil unrest in Aba.

“That we hereby advise the governor, in the spirit of equity and fairness, to balance his appointments among the ethnic extractions that make up Abia State.”

Continue Reading


Ata Igala inaugurates 7-member caretaker panel for ICDA




Share this story

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.

Continue Reading


Atta-Igala solicits HYPPADEC intervention in Health, Ibaji road




Share this story

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)

Continue Reading