The Federal Excessive Court docket in Lokoja set tongues wagging, canine barking and goat bleating when on June 2, 2020, after inspecting incontrovertible proof, the courtroom recited the contents of Nigeria’s historical past to declare that the nation was indebted to historic Igala Kingdom. That debt in cowries, now to be paid in naira, is roughly N10bn.
As it’s the custom of those that speak, scream and abuse others earlier than they suppose, many commentators who’re both ignorant or have forgotten how Igala offered the heath of fireside for them to heat their our bodies when closely crushed within the rain, have poured invectives on Attah Igala and Igala individuals typically. Main the gang is Governor Yahaya Bello, who, unusually, got here out of his shell to label the courtroom judgment and demand for compensation as “imperialism.” Imperialism, in accordance with the Oxford Superior Learners Dictionary, is “a system through which one nation controls different international locations, usually after defeating them in a battle.” This time period wears a grimy garb, due to its inherent destructive connotation. Such a robust language towards a conventional establishment underneath his management is a loud testomony to the measure of affection Governor Yahaya Bello has in his stomach for Igalaland.
Having solid the primary stone, Governor Bello opened the floodgate for different murderers to shoot and hack down the Igala race, particularly on the social media. One Maigari of Lokoja described Attah Igala as “ignorant, overambitious, barbaric.” Sadly, the Maigari solely displayed his personal attributes when he used these pointless adjectives to color Attah Igala within the context of the courtroom judgment. Then, the person who ought to know higher, Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, invoked the imagery of warfare when he mentioned they might “defeat Igala in battle for Ajaokuta with out sword, weapons.” Different characters on the social media over-stretched their creativeness by advising Governor Bello to depose Attah Igala Michael Ameh Oboni to put in an Attah that shall be compliant and complacent, arguing that the components had labored in earlier dribbling of Igala individuals on the pitch of politics. Whereas all these vile are being poured on his kingdom, His Royal Majesty has maintained his silence, refusing to leap into the mud to battle with them. Nevertheless, as Igala would put it, the nodding of a lizard doesn’t imply all the pieces is ok.
The primary concern
For individuals who clearly perceive pre-colonial Nigeria’s political, social and financial setting, the Federal Excessive Court docket judgment was not a snake chunk or the stinging of bees – they don’t seem to be in any method shocked. As an illustration, the Ibo nation is just not in denial of their historic, precolonial relationship with the Igala kingdom, and the imprint is just not denied in Anambra State the place, up until at the moment, there’s a sizeable portion of communities with Igala ancestry. Igbo dealer knew that their routes to entry the previous Kwararafa kingdom ran by means of the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue at Lokoja. The river flows by means of that area into the Atlantic Ocean. Historic proof bears the truth that Igala kingdom was based by two brothers, Igala and Bunda (Kakanda). Whereas Igala was based mostly at Idah, Kakanda had his base at Okuta Ihabe, which was to later turn into a stone market (Ajaokuta). Immediately, there’s a sizeable inhabitants of aboriginal Igala, who’re led by Onu Igala at Ajaokuta. His reign is older than that of Ebira conventional head within the space.
A number of sources state that the Chronicles of Abuja spoke of the intensive affect of Idah over the Abuja territories – Umaisha, Toto, Koton Karfi, and even Abaji. Of their work, Narrative of the Expedition to the River Niger, William Allen and T.R.H. Thompson defined that as at 1841, “The Ata was King of the Igala state, with its capital at Idah, at the moment an vital industrial middle on the Niger, with historic connections Southwards with Benin and northwards with Nupe.” The authors confirmed how highly effective Attah was in 1841, when His Royal Majesty rejected a present dropped at him by explorers from the Queen of England, and refused a suggestion to journey by boat to England to fulfill the Queen to debate commerce relations, saying these have been actions that ‘servants’ carried out.
As a result of the ocean was the technique of transportation and the hyperlink between them and Niger Space, European merchants needed to set up commerce and diplomatic ties with the king accountable for the nice rivers, and, in that period, the king was Attah Igala. To specific the depth of the connection, the colonialists constructed a seaport and an airstrip at Idah, the headquarters of the Igala State. Earlier than the Nigerian civil battle started in 1967, Idah had a thriving seaport, most well-liked by European merchants to the port at Lokoja. The port needed to be closed because of bomb assaults from Biafra military. The aerodrome constructed at Idah was put out of use due to the battle. For merchants from Europe, Idah port was strategic for transporting palm oil and palm kernel from Igbo and Igalaland, on the one hand, and for shifting cotton from Hausa land to their continent. Even within the 1960s, Idah was a thriving port metropolis. The federal government of the late President Umar Musa Yar’adua/Goodluck Jonathan awarded a contract to revive the port, however the mission was not accomplished. Within the ebook, Nigerian Views: An Historic Anthology, by Thomas Hodghin, the creator alluded to the truth that Igala kingdom stood erect as compared with the traditional Benin Kingdom, Oduduwa Kingdom, Hausa Kingdom, and the Bonny’s King Opubu.
Within the precolonial period, the political association was extra like a confederacy. Confederacy is a political system through which totally different ethnic communities or peoples come underneath one authority as a way to pursue a typical purpose. The Kwararafa Kingdom was very giant, but it surely was as a result of different ethnic communities, accepted to return underneath the reign of the Aku Uka, as a way to be shielded from enemies who would possibly wage battle towards them. On this method, the ethnic communities across the confluence got here underneath the umbrella of the Attah whose military was highly effective sufficient to guard them from invaders, together with Fulani Jihadists, who had swept by means of Hausa land to put in Fulani emirs instead of conventional chiefs. The proof of this army would possibly command by the military of Attah Igala is there for anybody to see – in all of the territories across the confluence river, there isn’t a emir or emirate. If the Fulani possesses any political energy on this space at the moment, it’s merely because of trendy political preparations.
The indebtedness. An Igala proverb says “a barren girl doesn’t undergo baby bereavement.” If the British had paid up the total sum of 700,000 cowries, no one would have been nagging about ‘Igala imperialism’ in 2020. Regardless of how wealthy a person is, he hardly forgets those that are indebted to him. That’s what is taking part in out within the courts at the moment. Traditionally, the Quaker Society of London, a missionary group, which had campaigned towards slavery sought to make use of the land from Ajaokuta to Lokoja as a mannequin farm to halt slave commerce. Slaves have been taken to Europe to work on plantations. The Quakers argued that it could be higher for Africans to, in their very own nation, plant these crops for which they have been enslaved in Europe, and export the produce by sea to Europe, as an alternative of being dehumanized as slaves in international lands. Those that need to know extra concerning the Quakers can learn up the roles these missionaries performed within the combat to halt slave commerce. The Queen of Nice Britain and Eire signed the Deed, whereas a consultant of Attah additionally signed. Although the mannequin farm mission thrived for some years, it was thwarted by the actions of Fulani Jihadists who raided the farms. However the colonial authorities used Lokoja as Nigeria’s first administrative headquarters – with out paying up the stability for the land. By the way, individuals from all walks of life got here to settle in Lokoja underneath the brand new political association, which has subsisted up until the current day.
Except they’ve determined to play the ostrich, all conventional establishments in Kogi State aren’t blind to this historic reality. In Igala, there’s a proverb which says, “In case you personal a property however are afraid to assert it, then it isn’t yours.” Like each authorities, the establishment of Attah is a continuum. The indebtedness to Attah Igala in 1841 is an indebtedness to Attah Igala in 2020. In the identical method, the debt owed by colonial authorities that gave delivery to the present system of presidency is a debt that hangs on the neck of the Buhari administration. What the courtroom has requested the federal authorities to pay Attah Igala is a home debt. Although the transaction is over 200 years previous, a debt is a debt, except it’s negotiated and written off. It’s on this sense that Africans are looking for reparation from at the moment’s Europe and America over slave commerce that ended nearly 200 years in the past. In 2020, Namibians are looking for reparation from German authorities, for materials damages and lack of lives that occurred throughout Germany’s colonial rule from 1884 to 1915. In America, there are deliberate insurance policies to offer reliefs of all types to aboriginal Crimson Indians, who have been displaced for contemporary America to be established.
In modern Nigeria, the Land Use Act offers governors management over land, but when such land is getting used for tasks within the curiosity of the general public, compensation have to be paid to the ‘conventional house owners’ of such land. So, why should Attah Igala be shot down for looking for the compensation of an previous debt? Some conventional establishments need to enchantment the Federal Excessive Court docket judgment. Not precisely as a result of they’ve a stake; not as a result of Attah is asking them to be evacuated from Lokoja and Ajaokuta. No. Their intention is to do the unimaginable – alter historical past, combat the previous. Might God grant us knowledge to select the battles we combat.
Dr Abbah wrote this piece from Abuja