Posted by: Dr. Joseph Ozigis Akomodi
Written by: Mr. Mathew Raji Andah
April 28th, 2006
The inferno of communal violence threatening to wipe Ebiraland from the face of the earth is man made and the clans are the epicentres. Any serious attempt to douse the flames of this inferno must involve the heads of all the clans in the land who command considerable influence. They can prevail on the heads of all the abara and the heads of all the families under them. Responsible family heads in turn triumph over its members.
You may have forgotten which clan you belong to or the meaning of the word until you step onto Ebira soil. The pervasiveness of clannish sentiment is thick in the air. You smell it, feel it, see it and hear it. It is part of the vocabulary of the salutation, its invocation conveys sign of seriousness and no praise due to a man or woman is complete without mentioning the clan. Some Anebira even suggested the inclusion of clans in the questionnaire of the just concluded national census. No tribe is as discriminating and selective in Nigeria as the Ebira.
It is often said, without any justification, that Kogi State was created for us and that we ought to be the one running it as if Anebira are its only inhabitants. The reality however is that Kogi is a multiethnic state. Coming to the helm of its government, at least in the current dispensation, is through the sophisticated science of politics and electoral contest that requires the presentation of a formidable and enlightened candidate with a deep understanding of the issues and a strong support of the generality of Anebira. The candidate must also have solid following in the west and east senatorial districts. So far, Anebira have failed woefully on this score.
The failure to unite behind a formidable candidate, eschew clan chauvinism and engage in politics based on the actual and practical needs of Anebira rather than on equity and power shift is highlighted by the emphasis on the rotation of all elective posts amongst all the clans in the land. During the primaries on the 3rd January 2003 in Lokoja, there were roughly as many candidates as clans in Ebiraland paying N3 million each in the race to secure the nomination of the PDP. All of them stood their ground, convinced of their superiority and invincibility despite the fact that the total share of their delegates, divided between them, would not be enough for any of the Ebira contestants to win. It took a re-run when no clear winner emerged from the first balloting for dishonest deals to be made. Mr. AT Ahmed, the ex-chairman of the Nigeria Port Authority, two-term senator and the self styled godfather of Ebira politics lost the re-run to Mr. Ibrahim Idris an Igalaman and a hotelier who went on to win the governorship race in Kogi State three years ago.
The rivalries and the bitterness of the Lokoja primaries were carried over to the post-election period. Factions emerged within the ranks of the PDP in Ebiraland. Mr. AT Ahmed, Mr. Momoh Obaro, the late Dr. John Lawal, Mr.Philip Salawu, Ambassador Usman Bello and Mr.Nasiru Soso are leaders of opposing factions with the core base of support drawn mainly from the members of their respective clans, relatives and circle of friends. They build tenuous alliances with like-minded politicians in the west and eastern senatorial districts. Some of the factional leaders have amassed modest wealth from years in the public service. Others run moderately successful private business. They use their extensive contacts in both the state and federal ministries or corporations to procure lucrative contracts the proceeds of which are used to finance and arm the standing paramilitaries. Weapons smuggled into Nigeria made their way into Ebiraland, some are bought or stolen from the weapons cache of the Nigerian army and the police. The incidence of politically motivated attacks, contract killings and hired assassins, previously unheard of, are now rife in the area.
The politicians play up the clans in Ebiraland like pawns against each other. Ogu and the Omoye are engaged in endless and needless debate over the owner of Okene. They hardly agree on any political issue. Idealists have always dreamt of a united, indivisible Ebiraland but the fact is that the allegiance of Anebira is strongest to their respective clans. Disagreement or dissent is to be expected in a pluralist Ebiraland where people are of different religious, clannish and political persuasions. The method used in expressing such disagreement or dissent is the true test of whether Ebira would survive this century or become extinct like the Nok culture. The leaders of Ebiraland deserve commendation for adopting clan character, the practice of rotating elective positions such as the chairpersons of the local governments, members of the state and national assemblies among the various clans of the land before the practice become hip in other parts of the country.
The same principle of rotation applies to succession to the various chieftaincies. Titles such as Anayiwa, Asema, Obobanyi, Ozumi, Ohitakpe, Ohioviza and others are rotated amongst the abara of the appropriate clans. All the clans have their specific portion of land under the tenure system in Ebiraland making a big landlord out of the clan heads. Traditionally, succession to the clan heads and other Chieftaincies occurs through the fairly well defined lineage in the clans but over time, interference from the government, the proceeds from the sale of clan lands and the social esteem associated with succession have conspired to stoke up and accentuate some disputes arising from the exalted thrones. None of the thrones compare in significance, power, prestige and contention to the Ohindase and the Ohinoyi.
The Ohindase is a second-class chief and reputed to be the first indigenous chieftaincy in Ebiraland. Dogged controversy has always trailed the institution since its inception. Ete-Oniyewa, the powerful symbol of the Ohindase has been the cause of war between the communities of Adavi and Okengwe in the early 18th century. The illegal transfer of Ete-Oniyewa is documented as the cause of the first offer of a man as sacrifice in Ebiraland. Originally the exclusive preserve of the Avi, the Ohindase is now rotated between the Avi, Omavi, Omoye and the Evini, an abara in the Ogu clan. The inclusion of other clans in the line of succession was meant as a reward to the so-called Ozi Ohindase, someone from the clans, which participated in the war for the possession of Ete-Oniyewa. The present Ohindase, Chief Stephen Bello, 57, on the throne since January 19 77 is widely regarded as the first with a western education, Christian and most modern in the line of successors. In May 2005, contention and rioting have ensued with respect to the Ohindase as a result of some revisionist claim to the right of succession by the Eyire clan. The Ohindase receives N192, 000 per annum. He is the vice chairman of the Ebira Area Traditional Council, member of the Kogi State Council of Chiefs as well as member of Ebira Land Allocation Committee.
Politicians have complained bitterly about the marginalisation of Ebiraland in the scheme of things since the creation of Kogi state on the 27th of August 1991. They point to the fact that only the Ohinoyi is a first class chief in the Central senatorial district, whereas Kogi East and West have 5 and 4 respectively. A recent reorganisation in the state’s traditional council was supposed to partly address this imbalance but the ill-advised decision to create a brand new traditional institution, the Adanihima of Ihima, as a first class chief to be rotated amongst the six clans of Ihima ended up pitching two of the dominant clans against each other. Until January this year and as recently as last week, violent incidents have been restricted to low intensity outbursts and verbal attacks during performances by Avereho, a night masquerade from the Emani clan and Arijewnu, the rival from the Ohogwa clan.
The Obobanyi of Ihima, Mallam Lawal Siaka Okaraga, a second-class Chief on the throne since 1985 hails from the Edima, one of the seven abaras of the Emani clan and his supporters felt slighted by the elevation of a nascent traditional institution. Such an elevation would automatically dislodge the incumbent Obobanyi from the coveted post of the Chairman of the Okehi Local Government Traditional Council and ushered in another first class Chief in Ebiraland. In the circumstance, an alliance has emerged between Alhaji Ado Ibrahim, the Atta III as he prefers to be called and Mallam Okaraga, the Obobanyi of Ihima who blamed Mr. Philip Salawu, the deputy governor in charge of reorganising the state’s traditional council for the imminent threat to their prestige and influence. The Ohogwa, singled out for attack were perceived as the embodiment of the brand new Adanihima of Ihima.
The Ohinoyi, a creation of the colonial masters has evolved into the most influential and powerful institution in Ebiraland. Succession to the Ohinoyi, a first-class chief and vice chairman of the Kogi State Traditional Council on an annual pay of N276, 000 has never been trouble-free. Politicisation, corruption, selfishness, high-handedness and partiality have eroded the respect and prestige of the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland. The controversy surrounding the appointment of the incumbent Ohinoyi is one of the longest running court cases in Kogi State and much of the violence in the land originated from that controversy.
Ebira must be rescued from crossing the tiny line of endangered specie into extinction. Patriotic Anebira must act, go home and talk to the heads of the family, abara, clans, members of the Ebira Area Traditional Council, religious and political leaders, women and youth groups as to the causes of the troubles and relay your findings to the government of the day for further action. The civic society in Ebira must also be prepared to work towards the reduction of the violence, enthrone orderliness and the peaceful coexistence of all Anebira and other inhabitants of Ebiraland.
The Raji Report
9 People had this to say...
I must admit, this article is a must read. Though it appears to be a personal analysis of the author over Ebira crisis, it is more revealing than many other similar reports on the subject matter.
Akoro, Mr. Andah
April 29th, 2006 at 9:24 am
Raji Ganiyu Said...
Akoro my man,
I think you need to be among the deligate Ebira Vonya International (EVI) is planningnow to send to our beloved land. Infact, I am highly impressed about your report. N:B I think you need to prepare to take one of the first class chiefif not at home, we can install you here as our Anebira first class chief,Germany.
Once again weldone.
April 29th, 2006 at 11:14 am
Dr. Joseph Ozigis Akomodi Said...
Dear Mr. Mathew Raji Andah,
I am amazed with the level of indept understanding of the issues in Ebiraland you eroded. You are definitely gifted in your knowledge about Anebiras. You have hit the nail on the head. I will recomend you to EVI Executives as one of our delegates who will be representing the organization at home. Your analysis was well written and right to the point. EVI is gladdened to have you as one of our stunch member and also European Regional Rep as well.
Your involvement across all spentrum cannot be overemphasized. You are truely a leader and a writer. I will urge Engr. Onipe to immediately download this report to our website. All Anebiras in the Diaspora must read Raji’s Report.
Thank you for the light you have thrown into the real problems at home. God bless EVI! God bless Ebira view for desemination of the Report!! God bless Anebiras!!! and God bless Ebiraland!!!! God bless the entire Nigeria!!!!!
Dr. Joseph Ozigis Akomodi, Ph.D.National PresidentEbira Vonya International
April 29th, 2006 at 8:49 pm
Miriam Ikunaiye Said...
It is unfortunate and tragic that we as a people so rich in culture and full of history have found ourselves in this mess. Until we learn to appreciate and recognize those who really care about us, just until that time we will be able to progress. Way back in Ilorin days; in Kwara Tech and all, I remember one particular senator from okene whose children were too ashamed to associate with Ebiras. Not only were they answering to Yoruba names, they preferred to be identified as one. An eldest daughter of his, a lawyer by profession was interviewed by the Guardian news paper and she was quoted saying she was “from somewhere in kwara state,” then Ebira was part of Kwara state. Obviously these children felt some resentment for Ebira. Yet, at each political period their father gets elected to the Senate without a glitch. Meanwhile, at the same time, in the same city, people like Musa Etudaye, Usman Bello, Dan Ikunaiye and few others have their doors open 24 hours to any soul that speaks Ebira. They gave assistance to many in respect to financial, education and employment. The last time I heard about royal recognition award flying around, names of the above Samaritans were clearly missing. As my father always say, adopt the principle of “inna na wa” (hausa) “Eza mi ya” (ebira). The literally meaning is learning to question things, evaluate your loss and your gain over that of your user. A typical example is, a politician wanting to buy your vote for two thousand naira; he gets elected and makes two hundred and fifty thousand naira a month. Will you not rather bargain with him to keep his money but to build a school that will benefit your children and grand children? As usual, all information is useful and Raji report is very informative.Miriam
April 30th, 2006 at 4:13 am
Sunday Okomanyi Abraham Said...
Dear Mr. Raji Mathew Andah,
I have read many of your reports but this present one is simply masterpiece. I am amazed at how current you are on these issues. Some of the issues you have addresed in your report were discussed during the EVI conference in Atlanta on April 15. This is what we need; the truth, an understanding of the fundamental of the crisis at home and strategies to employ in the search for resolution of these problems. Please keep it up!
Sunday Okomanyi AbrahamEVI General Secretary
April 30th, 2006 at 4:37 am
Yakubu Ovosi Ibrahim Said...
Mr. Raji Mathew Andah,I appreciate your contribution. to solve any of our problems we must know the courses and the nature of the problem, how bad in relation to other problems. that is exactly what you are doing. you have sincerely brought the truth to us and we will begin our analysis. may God Almighty Allah give us the power to make peace in our home town.thank you (Avo)
May 1st, 2006 at 1:39 pm
Mr. Yusuf Henry Ovansa Said...
I think that something is wrong with Anebira. Why do some Clan should feel more superior than the other, expecially in Ihima. Afterall Inda Okenwe is the Eldest son of Adayi Ebira and they never claim the Ohinoyi of Ebira Land title as their property. This should be liken to Ihima. Emani should understand that the 6 Clans of Ihima are all the children of Inya Ihima and so therefore, they should all rotate the First Class title. One Clan should not feel more superior than the other because God give every body different talents. If we should exist in this new age, all Anebiras should come together and agree on modarlities of enthroning new Ohinoyi, Ohindase, Asema, Obobanyi, Adeika, Otu etc to avert calamities in future. No clan is inferior to the other afterall we call our selves Anebira.
May 4th, 2006 at 12:18 pm
Danjuma Mohammed Said...
I must say you have really tried in writing this article and the fact that you are in picture of what exactly is happening in Ebiraland given the fact that you are not at home. Thats Good!!! But i have this to ask you, Do you believe in the introduction of new Title that is the aclaimed first class chief or The fact that the present second class chief could be elevated to first class status?
The problem in Ebiraland today is more of selfish interest and lack of forgiving heart by our self acclaimed politicians.It is if and only if they have a change of heart and mental disposition towards eachother and ebiraland as a whole can we have a headway.
The primaries you talked about, we lost it because the two horses( Sen. A.T Ahmed and AbdulAziz Farouk) then refuse to forgive eachother and as God will have it, we lost the primaries and subsequently the election proper.
It is important we have a forgiving heart, because as for me i was not brought up in okene but came back home since early nineties and i do not really attach much importance to all this clanish thing.And forgiving people seems just too important for me…..
Mr. Yusuf Henry Ovansa, i think you are misinterpreting things here no clan feel superior than other,but if you say so you might be right somehow. What we actually have here is that, in every society we have elder and younger and i think this is what is happening. The elder clan feels they should be respected as elders and not making any clan inferior than themself.
Thank You. Commenting From Okene…..
May 11th, 2006 at 11:44 am
Ado Ebako Said...
well its very unfortunate what is happening in Ihima and Ebiraland at large.instead of our educated elight planing and focusing their energy on how we can move our dear land forword,all they are intrested upon is what benefited them.in everyland all traditional rulers has what roles they play in the soceity.can anyone kindly educate me what will be the roles of OHI in Ebiraland?I was there and i Saw the destructuon made in the name of OHI.destruction is waiting for those who course destruction on the land.
September 21st, 2006 at 10:43 am
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Posted by: Dr. Joseph Ozigis Akomodi
Posted by Dr. Joseph Ozigis Akomodi at Wednesday, November 22, 2006