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Ata Gabaidu! May you live forever!

By Nelson Ogohi

In my quiet musings, these thoughts came to my mind and I penned them down. My thoughts and my musings – no politics intended.

It is true the saying that Ata never dies. He lives on. Those who understand culture and tradition will agree that it’s same with most faith practiced here in Nigeria. We never really die, we just change our place of abode.

I have never written about our traditional institution before now; not because I am not interested, but because it’s a hallowed institution that must maintain its sanctity and prestige. I also realized I am royalty having come from a royal family lineage too. But most importantly that I see an opportunity for our land “Anę Igala” to become better as we progress.

In the face of recent happenings in Igala Kingdom, there is not a better time to think and reflect on what has been and how it could be made better going forward. Now is the time for us to restrategize for the future.

Alluded below are some few things we must consider as the baton is about to change hands:

  1. Age When an Ata ascends the throne at a fairly old age, say above 50 or 60 years of age, he may not have too much time to live and effect needed developments on the throne. Don’t forget our life expectancy in Nigeria. Ata Aliyu Obaje ascended the throne at about 33 years of age, little wonder he lasted long and transcended many governments. He experienced all the government regimes/systems we have had from independence till our recent democracy. He was a young man when he ascended the throne.

At this point again, I am convinced that we need another young man who is qualified to be chosen by the next family and ultimately the traditional ruling council. Many things can change when there is time. Age does not guarantee performance, however, a young and well honed man can make many different strides because he has the benefit of time. So, while we consider other qualities, let’s also consider age. Only God guarantees long life, but it’s easier to pray for long life for a young man than it is for an old man.

  1. Family Rotation

We all know that ascending the throne as an Ata is, according to tradition, a family/lineage thing. The family line who’s turn it is, the Aju-AmeAchor should look amongst themselves for a qualified young and vibrant man with the qualities needed to lead us to a greater height. We need a dynamic and well adjusted young man from this family.

I am aware that the late Ejeh of Ofu, HRH Adebo Peter Opaluwa who fought for their turn the last time has brothers who may also be well over 50 and 60 years of age, and this family haven’t ascended the throne for over 100 years, if I am correct. If they don’t shove individual interests aside and get a quality candidate this time, it may be a short-lived victory for the family. Since it is the turn of the family, I would plead that they look for a younger person, one who has the qualities I am listing herein to lead us. It’s a plus to them – one they won’t regret. Their family line deserves it. Life is in God’s hands, but we as humans can make out plans and ask God for longevity.

  1. Education, Exposure and Experience

These three are highly relevant to leadership, especially our traditional leadership system in the 21st Century. When we have more exposed and educated people in our traditional ruling system, we will see more progress. We need a progressive mind and a young man with passion and ambition. Not one who may have lived out most part of his life and ran out of the ability to dream and dream big. We have young men in the next family who’s turn it is to produce a king with these qualities. One of the sons of the late Ejeh Ofu fits this narrative perfectly.

  1. Heart

The heart of Ata is always full of his people. He doesn’t sleep, but labours day and night with passion to ensure the safety and prosperity of his people. We need beyond the family politics, an Ata who has a heart for his people. This same son of the late Ejeh has used his position over time to serve our people. He has shown selflessness and confidence in the face of daunting challenges. I can’t forget the time when the only road at Umomi got broken by erosion with a big ditch and gully that could swallow up anything without blinking. Merchants were affected, farmers too, everyone who knows that road knows it’s the only federal road linking Ata’s Palace to other parts of Igala land. This same young man came to the rescue – running down to the site, rallying round the people, collaborating with relevant Stakeholders and bringing the government’s attention to the site. In a matter of weeks it was over with and people rejoiced again. This he did while reassuring the people and exuding hope and liberation. This is just one out of the many times he responded to the cry of our people. In matters of natural disaster, troubles, restiveness and other challenges, he had come through. Such a man is in this next ruling family, why not him to take the mantle? The elders of the family line have to look more inwards. They may have their best man as their son or grandson.

  1. Politics

An Ata who isn’t politically savvy and relevant may not understand the workings of the 21st Century processes of traditional leadership. Things have changed and we must understand and align. We need one who is highly relevant in the politics of Nigeria as it is today. The same son of the late Ejeh is currently a serving SSA to the Kogi State government. He’s got clout, he’s got relevance and he’s a people’s person.

In recent times, we have seen how political clout and relevance is a plus to royal/traditional leadership in Nigeria.
Traditional councils are under governments and these governments are led by political actors. If we close our eyes to the need for political relevance in choosing/deciding the next Ata-Igala, we may be missing it big.

From the Kano emirates to even our dear state, we’ve seen what can be when there is no harmony between the traditional leadership and the government of the day. These two must align to give us the needed development. We need a man who has political experience and relevance to manage the meanderings of political processes and the actors thereof.

We can’t also do without reckoning with facts such as dignity, honour, prestige and proper utilization of power. We need an Ata that can maximize our opportunities and mediate for the people… It’s the 21st Century and our real needs and felt needs are quite dynamic. We need a dynamic man; one who is in touch with current realities.

There are many other things that come to play in the choice or an Ata, but these are my own views, albeit myopic, they may have some sense in them and may be the cry of our land.

Disclaimer

I know how the traditional terrain can be. It is not opened to public scrutiny and debates. These thoughts are simply mine and mine alone.

I am not the mouthpiece of anyone. I am simply a son who wants the best for his people.

God bless Ata Igala!

God bless the Igala Kingdom!

God bless Kogi State of Nigeria!

— Nelson Ogohi

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