Factors Affecting Socio Politico-Economic in Ebiraland
Historical or Remote Causes: The Confederal Structure of the ‘Otaru’ System, the British met in Ebiraland had to give way in 1903 with their introduction of Central Administration. The ‘Otaru’ System was set aside and the British used Divide—and—The rule Method; thereby destroying the pre-existing unity and setting clans against each other.
As a Case Study, the glaring case that comes to mind is the rivalry between Ogu and Omoye; transformed into Agada and Okovi Clans that have assumed Socio—politico—cultural dimensions today. The remote source is traceable to the leadership tussle between Atta Omadivi (Ozi Ogu and Ohindase Arudi Adano (Ozi Omoye) who was blackmailed and eventually exiled to Adavi land where he died and was buried there.
Contravening the tradition of the Stool. Even intraclan leadership tussles were not left out by the British in this regard. It could be recalled also that just before the coming of the British Colonialists, Agidi Ukako was at loggerheads with the same Omadivi so much so that Omadivi had to flee Okene and he was taking refuge with his friend, Owuda Aclidi at Obangede.
The British came into Ebiraland via Kabba; hence they first met Omadivi Abonika there, Omadivi, was a well-traveled man who was already aware of the activities of the Whiteman in Lokoja and Kabba. He therefore quickly aligned with them to suppress his enemy, Agidi Ukako, and his uprising (against the coming of the British) in Okene which enhanced his appointment as the “Ward Agent” in charge of Okene.
Which people generally misconstrue today as Paramount Ruler ship of Ebiraland forgetting that he was even made to be reporting to Ohindase Avogude, the Chairman of the Judicial Council with other “Ward Agents” like Ozigizigi Opo, in charge of Obehira/Okengwe; Opata, in charge of Ihima; Audu Osuwa, in charge of Adavi and ‘Owuda Adidi, in charge of Eikae.
And when Ohindase Avogude (Ozi Omavi) died in 1909, Omadivi was made to act as Chairman of the Judicial Council; the position he reluctantly handed over to Ohindase Adano Arudi in 1911; a position Ohindase Arudi held till 1913 when he was removed by the British in favour of Atta Omadivi whom the British made as the Nominal District Head whose powers did not go beyond the Okene Group.
Yet for egocentric reasons, some people still regard this as Paramount Ruler ship and ridiculously backdate it to 1903. What a ploy! And when Atta Omadivi died in 1917, because the substantive District Headship being newly introduced was not hereditary, it was thrown open to all Ebiras to contest.
And because Ohindase Arudi Adano was again chosen by the Ebiras in the first contest, the British Colonialists were made to remove him in November 1917 as a result of blackmail that he was diverting taxes for personal use; culminating in the Ogu and Omoye conflicts which took the cultural form in Okevere versus Achewuru conflicts that also fuelled the Arijenu versus Avokuta conflicts.
And thenceforth the Ebiras were so polarized. And sponsors in form of supporters were drawn from other clans to fuel the embers of divisiveness. This situation was further compounded by the polarization caused by IPU (Igbirra Progressive Union) and ITU (which metamorphosed from Igbirra Traders’ Union to Igbirra Tribal Union).
Both are factions of the defunct NPC (Northern Peoples Congress); with the intent of the latter checkmating the former. These conflicts were carried forward to subsequent political forms, NPN versus UPN; NRC versus SDP, and ultimately PDP versus AC (which metamorphosed into ACN and currently APC). Special attention has to be given to the AT and the Farouk factors too! This is still enforced in today’s politics.
It is worthy of note that in the days of the IPU versus ITU thuggery started rearing its ugly head in our polity in the form of Cowboys versus Burma Boys (using simple weapons like cudgels and whips to fight each other); these metamorphosed into Youth Vanguards of today’s Political Parties using lethal weapons, firstly in the form of raw acids and later locally made short guns.
But today some of our non—God fearing Politicians, because of their inordinate political ambitions, go to the extent of equipping their thugs with sophisticated weapons such as Pump Action and AK47; to kill or maim our own brothers and or raze down people’s houses using clan clashes as covers; whereas the underlying aim is political ambition.
These weapons which in most cases are irretrievable become weapons for terrorizing commuters on our roads in the form of armed robbery and kidnapping which hitherto were unheard of in Ebiraland. May Allah (SWT) guide us aright (Amin).
With the discovery of the Iron Ore deposit at Itakpe in large commercial quantities and the sitting of the Steel Plant at Ajaokuta, the Ebiras felt that many downstream industries were going to come up to absorb our teeming unemployed youths and graduates.
These projects are yet to be completed to date. The politics which started with the siting of these projects continue to feature in the release of funds by the Federal Government under successive administrations which culminated in Concession Agreements to Solgas Ltd and lastly Global Infrastructure Holdings Ltd (GIHL) which even led to the London Court Suit. And up to date, we are still hoping against hope.
What are the factors militating against the completion of these projects? What methods can we, as Ebira people on whose land the projects are situated, adopt to sensitize Government to give them the desired attention to bring them to logical completion?
What are our Political Leaders and Royal Fathers doing in this direction? Why were the Russian trained and skilled Staff Members with evident positive inputs and glaring performances disengaged or untimely terminated from these Companies; culminating in the drawbacks of today?
If the Federal Government has genuine intentions to complete these projects, why is it that no Minister of Mines, Power, and Steel or Minister of Steel and solid Minerals was ever appointed from Ebiraland or the Catchment area with the exception of Alhaji Ali Makele whose glaring performance during the Shagari regime brought the project to its present level?
Why is it that no professional Engineer has ever been appointed as Steel Minister? And what is the Nigerian Society of Engineers or Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) doing to correct these mistakes of the past?
These questions and a lot more are now anxiously and seriously begging for answers to enable us to chart a way forward from these Crossroads. We do not need any soothsayer to tell Nigeria that Steel is the bedrock of industrialization the world over. Let us borrow a leaf from China and India and stop playing politics with our Steel Industry.
Ebira Cold War’s (Immediate Causes): From the foregoing historical treatise, the Ebira people were practicing Confederalism and yet united before the coming of the British; who in their desperate bid to introduce Federalism used their Method; setting clans against each other which culminated in today’s disintegration and lack of peace and unity in Ebira societies.
The political polarization that started in the form of IPU versus ITU has continued till date so much so that it has assumed such a violent dimension resulting in today’s Security Challenges facing Ebiraland; forgetting that we Ebira Opete people are a monolithic tribe that should view each other as brothers and sisters. And that families that have been given
opportunities to lead should do so in a manner that will foster unity and concentrate more on developmental projects. But instead, because of their greed and avarice, they have resulted in fallacious claims and counterclaims as exemplified by Ado’s letter dated 9th January 1986.
“The Atta was the Title of the Migrating Leader who settled in the present Igala domain. The Ohimege crossed the river and settled in the present Koton—Karfi domain under the leadership of the Ohimege. A much larger group migrated West of the River Niger in search of arable land. But they split into three.
The largest group, the Ebiras, settled around game lands surrounded by hills in the area which became. The Igbirra (Ebiraland). The Ososo group migrated further West while the Igala peoples in the present Edo State settled in the North—West of OSOSO.
The Ebiras have a chequered history of inter-clan wars. The clans were strong and limited in Kinship groups. There was no Paramount ruler for long because no Clan accepted the leadership of another clan head as a paramount leader of all clans. So they had different nomenclature for their clan heads. In this context, the OHINOY/has never been a clan Title or nomenclature, nor a Title for Paramount Tribal Rulership.
The Clans lived in frequent feuds until there came an outside threat to their collective sovereignty. The weaker clan groups joined their stronger clan affinities for safety and maintained an expanded clan hierarchy. The need for a single lender became a desideratum for their collective survival.
One man, A MIGHTY MAN OF VALOUR, of the ‘Ede “family in the Oziogu clan aspired to lead; but he could not take up any of his clan title which was either Ozumi or the Ohindase in the Agada/Okobi Kins—clan.
He was the grandson of the holder of the Atta Title under which the Ebiras crossed the River Niger from Idah and settled at Eganyi (near Ajaokuta). The only opportunity open to him, therefore, be conferred the original Atta Title by his grandfather. He returned to Okene where he distinguished his valour.
He assembled warriors of renowned archery and let them against the invading Nupe/Fulani warriors who lost their horses in hundreds and fled. As the Ebiras were hill inhabitants only their arrows were seen. The great OMADIVI became ATTA OMADIVI. He did not succeed to unite all Ebira clans but was feared and respected by all clans of the Igbirra Tribe for his protective valour.
The British had come in, virtually with little resistance from the Ebiras. They recognized Atta Omadivi as the Head of Ebira Tribe in the manner in which history recognized men of valour. In 1954, Atta abdicated. His children led by Alhaji Ahdulmalik, one-time Nigerian High Commissioner to UK and Ambassador to France declined to inherit the Attahship because his father was alive.
The Attahship has since become vacant. OHINOYI was never a ruling TITLE in Ebiraland. In order to spite the Atta, the late Sharwood Smith, the last hut one Colonial Governor of the then Northern Nigeria, ASKED THE POLITICAL PARTY HE FOUNDED IN Ebiraland— The Igbirra Tribal Union (ITU) to vote from its members, someone to be appointed the OHINOYI OF EBIRALAIVD since the hereditary Atta Title cannot be conferred on him.