By James Ibechi
*Was Abraham Ajene Okpabi not an Igede man?
The greatest virtues for which Igede tribe is reputed are Honesty, Transparency, Consistency and Trustworthiness. Added to these attributes is that a true Igede man, who’s born of Igede mother and father, abhors corruption and thievery.
Igede people are also known as peace builders. When they are compared with Idoma, they’re more rational and less sentimental in approaches to issues.
These value systems ran in the DNA and blood veins of their ancestors. Our forebears exemplified them. The only one or two times they rose to positions of importance on the Benue soil, they showed their onion. This fact is incontrovertible. Their only undoing seems to be that they are small, largely poorer than Idoma and Tiv in terms of wealth amassment or acquisition; they are impoverished and underdeveloped by their imperialists. But their smallness is only in numerical strength because they are a great majority when it comes to intellect and provision of good leadership. They have proved they are better than the self-glorified majority tribes who have never been able to offer leadership that has ever taken Benue state off the cradle nearly 5 decades after its creation.
You want to argue with me? Take this: the one and only building block of peace in the entire Idoma and Igedeland remains Och’Idoma 11, late Abraham Ajene Okpabi.
He was a full-blooded Igede man. He was a record longest serving traditional ruler in the world. Up till now, there is no known record surpassing his. At least not in Nigeria. With Igede blood running in him, his kingship was legendary.
For 35 years of fathering Idoma and Igede nations, nobody had a scintilla of complaint of anything against him. He valued good leadership and his subjects valued him no less. And like a saying goes, a ‘cola nut lasts long in the mouth of those who value it’, so his reign was prolonged by God because the voice of the people is the voice of God. The people prayed for long life on throne for Ajene Okpabi because he was ruling well. And God granted their prayer.
But, here was the good ruler who hailed from a ‘Benue Nazareth’, where people are skeptical if anything good could ever come out of.
Otherwise, why do the majority tribes relegate Igedeland to the backwaters of the state politics, as we still can see and feel it, despite that many analysts are of the consensus that the key to the development of Benue state is in enthroning Igede people in the school of leadership of the state, knowing an Igede man will not allow plunder or steal the money meant for the development of the state, unlike we are currently faced with an embarrassing theft of over N107billion by a leadership of a state in just 8 years of 4 decades. Igedeman will not steal development funds because he abhors corruption. He will rather fast track development pace.
Similarly, an Igede senator would not need 5 terms or getting bonded in the national assembly before giving the ancient town of Otukpo a face lift.
Though arguable, yet pundits say development of the state is stalled because power shift is not allowed by its current holders, even after proving to have failed to develop the state.
Though it is true that in democracy we talk number, this way of thinking majority, minority politics has failed us over time.
The other way is surest in the contemporary world. Think, Benue think!