PROF. ADUKU ARMSTRONG IDACHABA
“Youths 0f a nation are the trustees of prosperity. “Benjamin Disraeli
First of all it is indeed a great honor and privilege for me to present this paper today, this paper coming at an auspicious and historic cross road in our Kingdom’s history.
As we are all aware that the 2023 Governorship elections is here and as a matter of fact no election has held the future and the existential prospect on the Igala by the Jugular like this election.
Our people are exasperated and everywhere what you hear is expression of anger, many say we have been insulted, we have been slapped, we have been injured. There is so much cry for redemption –‘Uja ibe’ ,’Uja egidi’, ‘Dago kegba’–
Mr Yahaya Bello a Kogi Youth of Ebira stock who himself is a beneficiary of the Igala large heartedness and a supposed friend of several Igala youths chose deliberately to call the bluff of his friends and poke his finger in to the eyes of the Igala by the choice of another youth of his own clan , same village after his own tenure of 8 years. He deliberated shocked his trusted non Igala followers, excluding some and probably intimidating others out of the race.
How did the Igala come this state? What is the role of our youths in this conundrum? My paper examines the role of the Igala youth in the emerging maltreatment of the Igala people.
The United Nations defines youth as persons between the ages of 15 and 24 with all UN statistics based on this range, the UN states education as a source for these statistics. The UN also recognizes that this varies without prejudice to other age groups listed by member states such as 18–30. A useful distinction within the UN itself can be made between teenagers (i.e. those between the ages of 13 and 19) and young adults (those between the ages of 18 and 32). While seeking to impose some uniformity on statistical approaches, the UN itself is aware of contradictions between approaches in its own statutes. Hence under the 15–24 definition (introduced in 1981) children are defined as those under the age of 14 while under the 1979 Convention on the Rights of the Child, those under the age of 18 are regarded as children. The UN also states they are aware that several definitions exist for youth within UN entities such as Youth Habitat 15–32 and African Youth Charter 15–35.
According to Wikipedia(2019)Youth is the time of life when one is young, and often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity).It is also defined as “the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young”. Its definitions of a specific age range varies, as youth is not defined chronologically as a stage that can be tied to specific age ranges; nor can its end point be linked to specific activities, such as taking unpaid work or having sexual relations without consent.
Around the world, the English terms youth, adolescent, teenager, kid, and young person are interchanged, often meaning the same thing, but they are occasionally differentiated.
Youth can be referred to as the time of life when one is young. This involves childhood, and the time of life which is neither childhood nor adulthood, but rather somewhere in between. Youth also identifies a particular mindset of attitude, as in “He is very youthful”. For certain uses, such as employment statistics, the term also sometimes refers to individuals from the ages of 14 to 21. However, the term adolescence refers to a specific age range during a specific developmental period in a person’s life, unlike youth which is a socially constructed category.
But youth is not only about age , according to Robert Kennedy “This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.”
THE IGALA YOUTH
As indicated by the definitions above the definition of youth in Igala land is elastic- Amokobia- Agbadufu- There are several definitional coinages for youths –those who claim to be youths are also varied. Once at Odu Alhaji Alhaji was introduced as youth leader and there was an uproar.
But youths are integral and central to the socio-political harmony and stability of any Igala community-they are at the centre of family.
According to Muas Abdullahi-In Igala Heritage ( )‘the family as the platform of Igala communal life is the centre for consensus generation. Elders and age-groups remain the basis for social articulation.
When the leaders of thought (elders) decided about a given issue, they will contact the youths through the Achokobia. If the Achokobia informs the youths and they agree, it means the bill have sailed through.
Assuming the youths disagreed with the decision of the elders, the Achokobia will equally pass the opinions of the youths to the elders. In case it is stalemated, the youths and elders will discuss the sources of disagreement in the open. Whatever decisions emerged on that day will be sealed as final.
According to Musa Abdullahi ‘the logical outcome of this collective decision is collective responsibility. That is why the Igala people are known for “yes as yes” and “no as no”. The fortunate thing in Igala traditional society is the use of dialogue to reach a consensus. Once a decision is taken on a particular issue, and it was collectively agreed on. Anybody who later disagreed will be forced out of the ethnic organizations that operates in the community or penalized.’
I don’t know if the above is true of the Igala environment today.From days of our historic past the youths have been the engine of development. Attah Ameh Oboni was a very young man less that 40 when he ascended the throne of his forebears. Ali Obaje was less than 40 when he assumed office.
Musa Abdullahi records that –at a very young age Ahmadu Ali became President of Nigerian students in Britain, many of our young stars Francis Idachaba, Peter Abalaka, M. M Abdul all attended the famous Kings College lagos at very young and tender ages at a time many were not going to school and they made their mark.
In our contemporary history our political leaders assumed the stage as youths –Daniel Ogabdu, PS Achimugu, Stephen Achema who became ISA President at less than 30 years. Among the educated elites the following made their mark–Igala academicians like Dr Moses Egene Adah who at less than 40 got his PhD in Nuclear Physics and was teaching at ABU Zaria before he was appointed Commissioner in Kwara State. He was one of the pioneer Commissioners on the creation of Benue State. Also Dr. Abubakar Usman, Dr. Yahaya E. Atanu and Dr. Samson S. Ameh who as young intellectuals all less than 40 left their academic robes for politics.
As luck may have it, Dr. Abubakar Usman and Dr. Yahaya E. Attanu were elected as Honourable Members of the House of Representatives under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). And Dr. S.S. Ameh later elected to the Benue State House of Assembly from Ogugu Constituency.
Musa(2014) draws our attention to the following historical facts-In the Balewa Administration shortly after independence Igala was represented by Hashim Adaji, Mr Daniel Ogbadu, Peter Achimugu were early elites who served as Ministers in the then Northern Regional Government. They were youths.
Coming closer to your own generation, all the honorable members of of the house of reps from Igala land in 1999 -2015 were all young men in their thirties and forties. Out of about 9 Commissioners from Igala land in the government of Idris Ibrahim five of them were young men under forty of age. They were offered critical sectors like road but unfortunately roads budgeted for, for a 2 year period went on for 6 years and some poorly done.
THE NEW CULTURAL ENVIROMENT-CHALLENGE FOR YOUTHS
But it will seem that our contemporary youths are failing the nation.There is evidently a dislocation of Igala core values, even those who are custodians of our core values have abdicated them.
Omede(2015) notes that we are confronted by astronomical upsurge of crimes and criminality. The spate of crime and criminality by many who are probably in their 40s and above is strange to the Igala. I grew to note that in Igala that news of armed robbery and assassination were very very strange. Any time any kind of murder was committed it shook the whole Igala kingdom. It was obviously sacrilegious for murder to occur in Igala land.
It is no longer so, human life is gradually loosing value and sacredness in Igala land. Unbelievable things are happening today.
Perhaps it is most shocking in the arear of politics -topical reference point is the gruesome murder of Salome by Igala youths. The 2019 elections was violated by our youths –killing fellow Igala youths, acts of ballot box snatching, thuggery and all kinds of vices. Our youths are involved fully in cultism and other forms of in human vices.
Omede tries to situate the situation on the absence of a clearly defined, viable and visionary leadership in Igalaland that could be a rallying point. This obviously is an indication of poverty of political leadership.
Therefore there is Absence of Unity, Stereotypism,c. Lack of effective and Selfless Leadership:
Added to this is lack of respect and indiscipline.
THE FUTURE CHELLENGE.
During the last Gubernatorial elections the challenge facing the Igala nation became bare. Ironically in the Kogi Political equation the general Myth is that the Igala people are a constant united entity. The Igala is credited with the ability to quickly unite in the face of challenges and will always protect their ethnic interests. But this is a Myth that has been shaken and I believe though not shattered yet.
As build up to the election and basking in the long established notion that we can always rally round to occupy Lugard House in Lokoja, ‘ a committee of elders’ met to prone down candidates of Igala extraction to avoid intercine internal conflicts. Unfortunately the work of the Committee left the political class more divided and the people even more confused.
There are some very interesting intrusions into Igala Cosmic philosophy – Eneomuneme and the recent Ebigo. These are emerging phenomenon that are challenging time tested and long standing Igala value systems and they are symptomatic of the apparent gradual dissolution of the Igala civilization and its Moral/ ethical good. As stated earlier the Igala value system was Ufedo, Udama, Unyogba. Today what we see is a total deviation with very negative effects on our collective aspiration.
Without sounding like an ethnic jingoist, let me retrospect to the election that ‘ divinely’ brought His Excellency the Youthful Yahaya Bello , so many Igala sons contested the Primaries and they fought it to the bitter end even when it became obvious that ethnic Re alignments were on going and that some delegates were going to vote their ‘sons’. Nobody agreed for the other and Bello emerged second. Had they put their thoughts together they would have emerged 1st, second and third and perhaps an Ugbane will be Governor today and may be Gabaidu wouldn’t have been ‘ persuaded ‘ against culture and tradition, to endorse Eneomune when Amomaunyi or Amoma Ete are in the race.
Unfortunately the 2019 scenario is repeating itself in 2023.
We must avoid the own goal Syndrome- I am beginning to think that there is an evolving syndrome, away from the realities of the past when perhaps the Igala contended with the external forces, we were then most united and formidable, we annexed and conquered territories. It seem those are gone, We are now our own enemies but that is certainly wrong if we must develop. We have ephemeral enemies in poverty and underdevelopment, we must be united to conquer them. We must result to Igala Education, re interrogate our traditional institutions and values- especially of Ufedo, Uredo, Unyoba and practalise them for our common good.
We are positioned by destiny to lead Kogi State. We are not made for second fiddle. See the history of all our sons who accepted Deputy Governorship positions. How were they treated. Isah Odoma,Sule Iyaji,Achoba and Edward Onoja
CONTEMPORARY YOUTH LEADERS.
The year 2023 remains our opportunity for redemption-
Our youths must be united-bound by love of culture and a proud heritage.
We must not be divided by cultures and people who have no history –or those whose history obviously is a sub culture of Igala civilization-oroagaba dodown le-
The negative cultures of enenomuneme-Ebigo and those materialistic predispositions must give way for a united Igala land. It is quite sad that some people have already committee themselves to the Ebira and the Okun even when they have their own brothers in the race –what can be responsible for this if not greed and self-centeredness. Most disturbing , they are youths- I must advice our political appointees , especially the Local government Chairmen to do the honorable thing –respect their family inheritance and the name of their children after them and return home.
Please no one can love you more than your own. We saw it recently-two of our brightest and most loyal who accepted to play second fiddle as deputy Governors-were both hounded , intimidated and humiliated-it will continue and it will happen to those of you who feel loved today by those who need you only for political gains-its like the love of the master for the goat-he will feed it till Christmas and kill it to serve his family at the right time –think.
While we are busy insisting on contesting against our lit and kin –I enjoin you to look across the river.
How many Ebira candidates are vying for governorship, on any political party apart from the APC candidate. How many are coming from Okun apart from the PDP Candidate. But we have still have up to 5 or 6 separately threatening to go the whole hug-it’s a negative sign.
In recent time I have been personally involved in resolving our political quagmire and find for us a unifying persona and a unifying political umbrella party. What did I find out? . The older contestants are more agreeable to step down their interest for the good of the tribe. But the younger ones t –the youths will not agree to step down for the other.-there is ego , there is exuberance – but I challenge you as youths to speak to yourself not by intimidation or harassment but by love ad conviction.
Let one young man run-let the others support that one person. After all ‘inyo nwu omaye we inyo nwu we- Omaye we ma chonun n nn eneke choma ye Onun.’
Abdullahi concludes that –
For our youths to discover their historic mission, they should not surrender to the forces of darkness, They should not fall to false charity or be disarmed by psychological windfall of dubious wealth. To be the fighting army of Igala new social awareness, our youths should unite.
GOD BLESS YOU