Ajaokut Steel Project and Related Matters
From the foregoing Historical treatise, the ancestral father of Ebiraland Ita’azi Attanuje must have foreseen the Economic prospects of the Lower Region(Uvete) which includes early settlements like Upake, Ohungere, Obangede, Inare, Ohuruku, Uhuovene, Ukako, etc. Others like Opata (Geregu) and Utenyi (Ajaokuta) were settlements peopled by different ethnic groups viz:-
Gwari, Bassa Nge, and Egbura Igu alongside Ebira Opete owners of the land, All these settlements were brought together in 1926 as Ajaokuta Administrative District hitherto headed by District Heads of different ethnic stocks; carved out of old Eganyi Traditional District;
Ajaokuta being a nickname of Utenyi, which as earlier explained, had got into the British records and Maps (per Explorations of 1832 1854). And today Ajaokuta is a global name as a result of the Ajaokuta Steel Project. It could be recalled that the Benin Expansionist Wars of the I7th-century net with serious resistance at the newfound Opete Hills and Okehi Hills Settlements of the Ebira people; then referred to as Igbirra.
the River Niger is the clear natural boundary of Igbirra and (gala lands since the 16th century when the Idah War was specifically indicated being the c.1516 War during the reign of Oba Esigie. At the time of the said war, the Ebira/Egbura groups were still part and parcel of Idah. as renowned warriors trained with special skills in archery especially poisoned arrows as a result of the Jukun background.
But the Binis, in the 17th-century invasions of Idah (because of Idah’s weakened Army as a result of Ebira departures) almost ate up Idah chiefdom and they (Igalas) had to sacrifice Ayegba’s daughter, Inikpi, before they could finally win the wars while some Igala Warriors were taken as slaves into the Benin Kingdom.
But today, their Igala History is being revised to portray their so-called Igala Kingdom as so powerful a Kingdom that conquered virtually the whole of Eastern Nigeria through Wars; even extending their so-called Igala Kingdom to include Ebira/Egbura lands; claiming sovereignty over Ajaokuta and Lokoja in 1995 (without a mention of Koton Karfi).
But in their 2017 claim they were laying claims to ownership of Ajaokuta, Lokoja, and Koton Karfi Local Governments, in order to have a total of twelve (12) Local Government Areas as Kogi East while Kogi Central will be reduced to four (4) and Kogi West, will also be reduced to five (5) so that they can perpetually produce Kogi State Governor; thereby becoming the Imperial Lords of Kogi State.
inadvertently trying to steal the Ajaokuta Steel Project sited in Ebiraland. We are not surprised about these Igala behaviors, greed, and avarice, because of the circumstances that brought their mythical—Leopard apical ancestor, “Igala Ogwa” (Premier Igala) into existence.
“History has it that a Yoruba woman while fetching firewood in the bush at Ojaina, met an unknown man and they fell in love with each other which resulted into pregnancy; sequel to which the man disappeared like a leopard into the bush and the matter was brought into Ata Ebele Ejaunu’s Court for adjudication. And because she was childless, she promised she would adopt the child.
The child was later born and named “Igala” by the Yoruba maternal grandfather; which means “Antelope” (an animal associated with characteristic stealing habits in people’s fat-ins). He was later adopted by Ata Ebele Ejaunu as promised and was brought up in the Palace.
speaking only the Court language. He later got married and gave birth to nine (9) male children; collectively regarded as “Igala Mela”; culminating in both Igala Ogwa and Igala Mela people living in the vicinity of Idah Palace; their descendants up till date being regarded as people especially favoured by the Ata as Members of the King Makers Council with Ochi’Adu (Achadu) as Chairman.
Hence in today’s Igala land only Igala Ogwa and Igala Mela Clans could be regarded as true Igala while all other Clans are related to different ethnic stocks by origin but Igala by assimilation; speaking Igala language; a language 40% Yoruba, 30% Okpoto and 30% Egbura”.
But today the Igalas are even claiming they founded Ife, the seat of Power of the Yorubas of Nigeria on one hand; claiming their so-called Igala kingdom extended to Southern Kaduna and beyond Onitsha on the other hand.
What they fail to realize is that it was this type of greed they exhibited in Benue State which accounted for the maltreatment they got from the Tivs. I pray that they are not working for a repeat of that! By the time the chips are totally down they, will not smell Governorship again!! A stitch in time saves nine ! !!
It may not be out of place, at this juncture to clarify what the Igala present generation regards as “loose Suzerainty” over the Igbirra and Kakanda groups near the Confluence viz:-
“The present boundaries of the Igala Kingdom are defined by the configuration of the Igala Division, Administrative Division of Kabba Province in Northern Nigeria. These boundaries do not coincide exactly with the traditional limits of the Kingdom, which were slightly more extensive. But the difference is not great, and the modern nucleus includes all but an insignificant, minority of the Igala-speaking peoples known to reside in this area. In this study,
I identify the traditional Kingdom with its modern configuration, which is justifiable if it is borne in mind that the Ata formerly exercised a loose form of suzerainty over Igbirra and Kakanda groups near that confluence and that he also made appointments to titles and in some cases exercised direct control over many Ibo — and Idonta —speaking settlements that lie beyond the present boundary.
In the above-quoted text, no single mention is made about the Igbirra Hima (sometimes misspelled as “lgbirra Sima” but otherwise known as Ebira Opete) further South on the Right Bank of the Niger; not a mention was made of the name, “Ajaokuta”.
In fact, before the sitting of Ajaokuta Steel Project, the Igala people on the Left Bank of the Niger used to refer to the Igala-speaking people of Ajaokuta as “Igala Slaves” but with the establishment of Ajaokuta Steel Project, they have suddenly become “Oma iye Igala”.
What an irony! All in their bid to claim ownership under the guise of the Igala word, “Ajaokuta” Etymologically, the Ebiras/Egburas can now also lay claim to lands from Etobe (today’s Itobe) down to Ida: (today’s Idah) on the left bank of the Niger. It is on historical records that Ebira Opete people had in the past given such nicknames to settlements outside their traditional boundaries viz:-
Ingere (for Ineme); Ekunu (for Lampese); Aworo (for Kakumo); Uma (for Imoga); Iduje (for Aduge) etc while in faraway Lagos, Ebira has nicknames such as Ichacha (for Ishasha); Avujara (for Afijalo) which were farm settlements of the early Ebira farmers that were in these areas. As settlers, they never laid claims to ownership of the respective lands for which they were only granted the Right of Occupancy.
These lands were held in trust by the respective owners. Ebira people all over the world are known to be trustworthy and people of good character; an attribute traceable to our apical ancestor, Ita’azi Attanuje. We are proudly and virtuously Anebira.