For the Records
Being the text of Speech delivered by Prof. Ode Ojowu as Chairman of the Occasion at the coronation of Adirahu Ny’Igede on Saturday, July 14, 2018 at the Oju LG Pavillion.
The Igede people have today come full cycle with the emergence of their First Class Chief.
Pre-colonial Igede was an ‘independent nation’ with powers to decide on matters of life and death.
Each of the 17 clans then had a chief, 16 of whom paid homage to the paramount Ruler of Iyeche clan.
With the incorporation of Igede into a larger colonial territory that later became Nigeria, Igede, like many other tribes lost their independence for a more viable and more promising country.
For smaller tribes, especially micro minorities, like Igede, they lost their local autonomy as well.
Through twists and turns, I have come to realize that it is very impractical and indeed near impossible for people to surrender their language and cultural identity to any other (larger) group.
International community has tried to put a positive spin on this resistance by recognizing the plurality of societies and the advantage associated with them. This is the context in which to understand the ups and down of the struggles for identity and progress of the Igede people.
Time it was, when they had two second class chiefs, but just in line with the political and administrative changes in the state.
And now Igede people have a full complement of officially recognized cultural leaders from the 1st Class Chief, 2nd Class Chiefs, and 3rd Class Chiefs down to district Heads and others, within the larger community of Benue State and Nigeria.
The structure and cultural leadership that Igede once had when it was a ‘stand-alone’ society, has now been restored to them in a much more promising wider and more viable state of Nigeria.
This is a challenge in and of itself, but the sense of belonging, recognition and participation, once felt lost, has been restored unto them with no losers elsewhere in sight. The authority and capacity of the Idoma area Traditional Council, under the Leadership of Ochi’Idoma are strengthened as a consequence.
The outstanding character of the struggle for the cultural emergence of the people is that it was a collective effort. Unlike the zero-sum strategy of the past, this time around it was a win-win strategy. So right from the beginning, the basis for mutual respect and cooperation between the Igede, Idoma and Tiv was established. The role of the state legislature in processing the relevant law and the executive in signing the law into effect, including all those who ensured that laid down regulations were strictly adhered to in the selection of Chiefs is Acknowledged.
It is my hope that these levels of cooperation between the government and traditional institutions will be sustained. Mutual responsibility and accountability will promote good governance. It will also provide the opportunity for inter-cultural and inter-ethnic cooperation, thus strengthening our diversity and common bonds for a stronger and more viable society
Though all cultures have come under stress from numerous external influence, not the least of which is easy access to online corrosive materials, Igede still retains strand of discipline and the spirit of competitiveness that compensate for her low numerical strength. Our First Class Chief, HRH Chief Oga Ero CP (RTD), is an embodiment of such discipline and competiveness.
A graduate of the University of Ibadan with a distinguished career in the Police Service, his Emergence as the cultural leader reflects the desire of his people to field their first eleven in every human enterprise. In the near future, this desire may penetrate the field of elected political offices.
We, the Igede people look forward to a period of fulfilled cultural rejuvenation, love and prosperity-driven peace. Igede land will be a welcoming haven for all peoples of good will and promising investments that will add to our growth and development. For all of our friend and well-wishers, here in your numbers today, we appreciate you and thank you for coming. We implore you to bear with our limitations and invite you to relax and enjoy our cultural displays and our cuisine.
Long Live our Royal Majesty
Long Live Benue state
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.