Behold, The New Attah Igala
Over half a century captivity of the Igala race is over!” exclaimed an obviously elated Ejiga Edogboanya, a businessman resident in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital. Edogbanya was reacting spontaneously to a statement issued by the state government on Wednesday, February 27, announcing the approval of Idakwo Michael Ameh Oboni as the new Attah Igala.
The businessman’s statement may be an exaggerated expectation, but it also reflects the general mood of the Igala people across the state as the announcement threw a great number of them into celebration. A significant development that followed the announcement tends to lend credence to the assertion. The Idah branch of the National Road Transport Workers Union, NRTWU, issued a statement the following Monday to announce a 50 per cent reduction in transportation fares from Idah to Lokoja to, “Herald the new age of relief and progress that the appointment of Idakwo Micheal Ameh Oboni as the new Attah Igala, signifies.” This announcement has further heightened the excitement and jubilation that have since characterised the emotional climate in Igala land since the appointment of the new Attah Igala.
In all, the new monarch did not emerge from the blues to clinch the appointment of Attah Igala. He was able to weather the storm of tradition and politics associated with the stool.
The Attah Igala position is to the people of Kogi East what Sultan of Sokoto is to the caliphate, and Queen of England to the United Kingdom. The selection process of the occupants of this revered institution is supposed to be purely a traditional affair. But events have proved that this is not so. The position of Attah Igala became vacant as a result of the death of its former occupant, the legendary, Dr Aliyu Ocheja Obaje, who joined his ancestors on the July 17, 2012 after a successful 56-year reign on the throne.
After due consultation, the Igala kingdom’s kingmakers went into action in accordance with the 1963 order/rules which states that it is the direct son of Attah that is the heir apparent of the throne, and in the absence, the son of the Attah’s brother can become an alternative crown prince, in the process of succession. This due process was logically and spiritually followed to the letter by the kingmakers in the selection process which gave birth to the new royal father of the Igala people.
Newsworld learnt a committee comprising 10 kingmakers was constituted to this effect. And in the process, three of the many princes: Chief Peter Adebo Opaluwa from Aju Ame’Achor dynasty; Alhaji Isah Odoma, Aju Akogwu dynasty and Prince Idakwo, Micheal Ame Oboni from Aju Ocholi dynasty forwarded their intention to succeed the late Attah Igala. These names were eventually approved to be voted for by the kingmakers.
It was also learnt that Prince Idakwo from the Ocholi dynasty beat the other two contestants by seven votes to emerge as the Attah Igala. The result of the verification committee was later confirmed by the Igala Area Traditional Council which was presided over by the Eje of Ankpa, Yakubu Ahmodu. And on December 10, 2012, the report of the traditional exercise was presented to Governor Idris Wada by the head of the custodian of this special class of Igala, the Achadu Attah Igala, Yusufu Ameh Adaji, on behalf of the Igala nation.
It was said that Captain Wada would have approved the recommendation since, but for the car crash which kept him off the scene for almost two months.
The coronation process appears to be a complete deviation from that of his predecessor, late Dr Aliyu Obaje. According to the itinerary of the coronation activities signed by the Amana Attah Igala, and chairman of the central planning committee, Ajofe Isah Edime, the process of initiation of the new Attah Igala started from Ugwolawo on March 5, 2013 according to traditional rites of the stool. The Attah is expected to spend a night at Ugwolawo and proceed to Idah the next day for two nights at Achadu’s palace where certain initiation rites would be administered on him. As part of tradition, the new Attah is also expected to proceed to Ojaina (Egwuola’s palace) after Achadu’s initiation process, ending at Ofukolo to meet Onu Ede and Onu Ubiogbo for another traditional rite. It is said the climax of the coronation rites is at Erane where all the beaded chiefs in the Igala nation would converge to meet the new Attah and thereafter they would proceed in a procession to the palace, at Idah.
The turnout of the Igala people at Ugwolawo for the traditional rites was unprecedented in Igala history. The sight was a beauty to behold, as the Igala people, including other tribes from all walks of life converged on the ancient town to welcome the new Attah to his kingdom. Agaaba’Idu Attah Idakwo Ameh left Ugwolawo on foot on Wednesday, as demanded by the tradition of the stool, to Idah amidst jubilation from his subjects. The ascension of Prince Idakwo Ameh to the throne of Attah Igala seems to be a reincarnation of Attah Ameh Oboni as it is believed by Igala people that the new Attah is a man of strong will, a traditionalist and a decisive administrator who has strong desire to liberate his people, especially their cultural heritage. Considering his antecedents from childhood, Attah Oboni is filled with patriotic zeal and strength of character to deliver Igala land from the shackles of disunity that has enveloped the area for close to a century. “With the hard way I was brought up at the Catholic mission, I always take life the way it comes. If it tumbles, I’ll take it like that and if it comes smoothly, I’ll also catch it like that. In essence, I’m always ready for any eventuality in my life. In fact , when I’m going for something, I expect the worst but if it comes a bit easy I would thank my God and if it does not reach me, then it is not my luck,” the new leader of the Igala nation was quoted as saying recently.
To Hon. Umoru Adejo, (Egbolimajo) a strong Igala nationalist and the national president of Igala Grassroots Movement, the emergence of the monarch is the best thing that has happened to the people of Kogi East. “He can solve Igala problem, spiritually and otherwise. He is someone that doesn’t tolerate nonsense. Get it right, Igala nation has no other problem than leadership. His father made positive impact on the kingdom in his days. So, we are seeing him as an oracle of the land that can ward off bad things that have been associated with Igala land for years,” he said.
Speaking in a similar vein, the president in Council of Ojuju Agbadufu and a board member of Igala Cultural Development Association, ICDA, Dr Simeon Omakoji advised the new Attah whom he claimed he first met in 1995 to shun sycophants and to be a man of his own in his dealings with his people, stressing that he should be careful in dealing with some traditional chiefs who speak from both sides of their mouth. As someone who had been in the forefront of the Igala cause, he implored the Attah to go the way of his father in terms of educational pursuit in the kingdom, adding that he should use his wisdom to accelerate the rate of development of the land. The monarch who lost his father, late Attah Ameh Oboni in 1956 completed his primary education in 1960. After his secondary education at St. Augustine’s College in Kabba in 1967, he was enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force in 1968. Despite his glorious moment in the military he resigned to pursue his education at the Kaduna Polytechnic where he read estate management after securing his A- level papers. He later took up appointment with the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, as an estate officer, where he rose to acting deputy director in the department of resettlement and compensation before going into private practice.
Survey conducted across the state shows that his people have a high regard for him, perhaps because of his father’s exploits while on the throne. The speed in which he meets the expectation of his people would make him a great leader in his generation.