I read with profound sadness, the recent self-disgraceful open letter to Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, His Royal Highness, Dr. Ado Ibrahim, by a faceless group called “Igala Vanguard” urging the royal father to call Governor Yahaya Bello to order.
To put the record straight, I had earlier decided to let the past remained as it was and pray for the betterment of the generality of my dear state, after the divine intervention that miraculously terminated the decade-long dehumanising treatments meted on other tribes by our very brothers from the eastern flank of Kogi State. However, the recent vituperation by the said “Igala Vanguard” is too heavy to ignore and has made me to swallow my earlier decision by re-echoing the past iniquities that nearly annihilated Ebira race in the state. For long, our humility and exceeding love for others was mistaken for stupidity. I must also declare that I write this piece as a bonafide member of Kogi state.
Before I respond appropriately to the so-called open letter to our royal father, I would like to first put it in a simple parable, one of our characters that has put us in disarray since the creation of Kogi State in 1991. It goes thus:
One faithful day, an elderly Ebira man, driving an old pick-up car loaded with planks, mistakenly hit a multi-million naira private car moving behind him while trying to manoeuvre his way out of the traffic jam in Okene. As a matter of fact, when the old man realized that he had damaged the car, he took to his heel and the people around the scene spontaneously gave him hot chase, caught up with him and beat him to pulp. The owner of the damaged car who compassionately watched with dismay, pleaded with the irate people to allow the man go. The Hausa man whose car was damaged asked the old man why he decided to run away to which the man replied that it was because he discovered that even if his car and himself were to be sold, the money realized would not buy the damaged car. The Hausa man was shocked whereupon he handed over the key of the car to the old man. He told the man that the car was a gift as a compensation for the injuries he sustained during the beating. Everybody, including those who beat and injured him began to wonder at the irony – a man offering his car to the person that damaged it. This is the only part I need from the story.
What this simple parable teaches us is the way an average Ebira man behaves. Ebira people can fight and kill themselves in defence of strangers or justice. They are very loyal, fearless and fast enough to seek justice instantly when they have the power.
Consequently, it has been this exceeding love for strangers that has caused us the loss of our numerous able young men and nearly annihilated our race from the surface of the earth. Our exceptional love for others pushed us to declare unwavering support for Igala candidates since the state was created in 1991. This was despite the fact that Ebira people were the major pioneer of the state. Records show that the Igala politicians were advocating for Okura state of their own, not Kogi during the time Ebira leaders were working tirelessly to realize the dream State.
It is indeed, the same love and limitless loyalty for others that led to the long-drawn conflicts in Ebiraland that killed hundreds of our industrious youths. And of course, it is the same love for others and exceptional loyalty that made Governor Yahaya Bello to break the jinx of the hitherto institutionalized culture of appropriating all sensitive and top positions to the ruling tribe in the state. The position of chief of staff and other sensitive ones are ceded to other tribes in the current political settings. I pray, this exceeding love for others would not spell doom for us this time around because Ebira people believe in the sanctity of all human race.
Back to the insensitive open letter to the Royal majesty, Ohinoyi of Ebiraland by the “Igala Vanguard.”
What this letter has revealed is a clear case of an unending greediness and a fatal expression of fear by those who had milked and ruined the state to the detriment of the masses for decades.
Firstly, the group acknowledges that the creation of the state was a joint effort of all tribes. Hmmm…this is very interesting for hearing an Igala group for the first time, recognizing this in the public sphere. Indeed, it really shows that the chickens are coming home to roost. How time flies…
The said group also acknowledges that since 1999, their kinsmen have been ruling the state except for the short period witnessed by the state owing to court decisions that nullified the election of a governor and ordered for rerun which paved way for an Okun man to lead the state for 90 days. But the group in an attempt to justify their long dominant in the state political settings, described it as naturally normal even claiming that their numerical strength put them on the scale of superiority over other ethnic tribes in the state, a numeric strength that never translated to increased internally generated revenue in the state. What a shamefully ruse talk.
Let me quickly expose the hypocritical belief of the said group, a philosophy I believe many of our Igala brothers share because of my personal experience for the four years I spent with them.
It is on record that when Igala people were in Benue state as a minority group, they were never allowed to rule the state because of their numeric weakness just like they did in our current Kogi State until recent divine intervention. Hence, they started advocating for Okura state after fruitless cries and efforts to mount the governorship position in the then Benue state. They saw the system then as unholy and abnormal political setting in Benue state. But now, an Igala group is telling us that such hegemonic political setting is naturally normal because they are now in the position of the so-called majority.
However, this same scenario played out when Ebira people were in Kwara and they were in obvious minority; it was treated differently. The Kwara political leaders saw wisdom in recognizing all sections of the state and deliberately allowed the minority Ebira to govern the state without recourse to what this Igala group describes as naturally normal. No doubt that this humanistic gesture and compromise exhibited by the Kwaras’ politicians laid a solid foundation for Kwara State. Today, Kwara state and Benue state where Ebira and Igala came from to occupying the current Kogi state cannot be compared in terms of development. That is the resultance of a society where greediness and ethnic solidarity cum chauvinism are jettisoned for harmonious living and betterment of all.
The group also claims that most of the Permanent Secretaries and Directors suspended since March and top civil savants transferred by the governor are all Igalas or mostly Igalas. Hmmmm…if this claim is correct, then the group has just shot itself in the foot. This is an indictment against the Igala race. How come that all Permanent Secretaries, Directors and most top civil servants are Igala extraction? Is the state only for Igala? Where were the other tribes which the group acknowledges to be the stakeholders of the state? How come the past leaders appropriated all these positions to one ethnic group? What is the ratio of Igala, Ebira and Okun in all these Permanent secretaries and Directors that were suspended? These are little questions that are begging for answers from the so called “Igala Vanguard” and any other Igala group or person that share the same view.
The group also claims that the screening exercise embarked on by the Yahaya administration is targeting Igala. Oh! This has now made us to understand that almost all civil servants in the state are Igala extraction. Are there no other tribes in the state civil service? Where are the Ebiras? The Okuns? And the rest? Why are they not shouting too? This is indeed, the reeling confession of the economic hitmen in Kogi state. I think the world would now see the reason why Ebira had vigorously cried for justice in this state. Just about one-year leadership by another tribe of the state, an Igala group has already started crying like a baby for help.
The most striking and bizarre alarm raised by the group is the one on the recently instituted judicial panel of inquiry by the governor. Every right thinking living being would definitely be shocked at seeing a group of people raising an objection against the proposed probing of the past administrators of the state who the vast majority assumes to have severely ruined and milked the state dry, which led to its recent position as one of the poorest states in Nigeria. We have seen in recent time how contractors are being mobilized to all the sites of abandoned projects in the state. For thirteen years of Ibro and wada stewardship as governors of the state, I never for once witnessed either of the two coming to my hometown to commission a visibly important project sponsored by the state government from beginning to the end.
I think, only an agent of evil and anti-development would raise an eyebrow against this welcomed decision of probing the past leaders who held sway from 2003 to 2016.
And indeed, if all these crass claims are what the group calling an attempt to victimize or settle scores by an innocent and fearless governor, then the group need to wake up fast to recognize the present of the day break and the divine hand that is currently at work in the new Kogi state. I advise the group to channel their worries, to their political gladiators who deceived them with the concept of numerical strength as the tool that assures the tyranny of the majority.
With this, I would drop my pen till the next time a clown like Igala Vanguard or similar other woofs!