|Linguistic map of Nigeria showing the Igala-Igbo proximity|
TEXT OF THE WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE IGALA SOCIAL-CULTURAL GROUPS ON THE AGITATION FOR THE DECLARATION OF THE STATE OF BIAFRA AND THE WRONGFUL INCLUSION OF IGALA NATION IN THEIR BIAFRAN MAP, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14TH 2017, AT NUJ PRESS CENTRE, LOKOJA, KOGI STATE, NIGERIA.
Our attention has been drawn to the publication on pages 5, 6 and 7 of the Daily Trust Newspaper of Sunday June 4th , 2017 on the renewed agitation for the declaration of Biafra and the wrongful inclusion of Igala Nation in the said agitations including the Biafran map. We have also reviewed the different reactions to this call for the State of Biafra across the various geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
The Igala nation which found itself in the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates of the Niger River Basin was a renowned kingdom in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its vast political, economic and social influences cut across most States in the current Federal Republic of Nigeria. In our days of glory, the Igala kingdom ruled most parts of the geopolitical area being described in the agitation for the State of Biafra and beyond.
In the plot to reduce the geographical size of the kingdom, different attempts were made to balkanize the Igala kingdom and at a point, one division of it , particularly the Idah division, was carved into Onitsha province as a district. It may be this illusionary understanding that have led the agitators of the said publication to wrongfully and erroneously imagine that Igala kingdom is a clan. For the avoidance of doubt, many kings in the current States of Enugu, Anambra, Delta recognize the place of the traditional leadership of the Igala kingdom in their affairs. Describing the Igala Kingdom as a clan is definitely a product of ignorance of history and mischief.
The present agitation that has included Igala people on paper is not only provocative but very insulting to the Igala people. Suffice to say that, the agitators for Biafra have marginalization as the main plank for their grievances. It is therefore unthinkable to annex the Igala kingdom without consulting us. Probably this may be due to the erroneous belief that Igala kingdom is a clan thus not important to consult the people of the great Igala kingdom before being annexed as part of the agitation. This is against the spirit of fairness, sovereignty, equity, peaceful cohabitation and democracy to forcefully and falsely claim that a great kingdom as the Igala kingdom, which was never defeated in any war is part of Biafra.
Nigeria is a democratic country where any Nigerian should be allowed to live peacefully and secured as prescribed by our laws, without any fear of intimidation so long as the individual or group is living within the boundary of common sense and our Constitutional provisions.
We therefore wish to state in very clear and unequivocal terms the following;
1] That Igala ethnic nationality is NOT part of the Biafra agitation
2] That Igala ethnic nationality holds the unity, oneness and indivisibility of Nigeria sacrosanct.
3] That Igala believe that every Nigerian citizen has the constitutional right to freely live where ever such an individual or group so chooses within the ambit of our laws and in the interest of peace and security.
At this juncture, we wish to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the painful reality that there is minimal federal presence in terms of infrastructure and economic activities in Igala kingdom even when our allegiance and commitment to the stability of the Federal Government is total. The plight of the Igala people needs to be addressed immediately and urgently too to forestall the issue of marginalization being canvassed by some current agitators. We are feeling the pain but we are committed to keeping the nation ONE.
Key among the issues to be addressed are;
A] That there is need to continue urgently the construction of Bagana-Guto bridge to ease access to the Federal Capital Territory by our brothers of the South-East and South-South as this will encourage economic activities, unity and proximity to the centre of governance.
B] That, in view of security concerns occasioned by the Biafra agitation, there is an urgent need for establishment of a full fledge Naval Base at Idah, and establishment of an army barrack in Olamaboro Local Government Area. It is a known fact that Ibaji, Igalamela, Ofu and Olamaboro Local governments live in close contiguity with South Eastern states of Anambara and Enugu over a wide boundary line.
C] That there is urgent need to swear in the minister from Kogi State, Prof Stephen Ikani Ocheni immediately to enable us have sense of belonging and input to national affairs. Kogi State has been without a minister representing the people for the past one year. Since he has been cleared by the Senate, we urge the Acting President to swear-in Prof Stephen Ikani Ocheni without further delay.
D] While showing appreciation to the Federal Government for the recent appointments of our illustrious sons into various positions, WE NEED MORE BECAUSE OF OUR NUMERICAL STRENGTH AND LOYALTY TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and the Administration of President Muhammed Buhari. Hope our genuine request should not be misconstrued to be asking too much. We deserve it.
E] The issues surrounding the boundary adjustment between Ibaji and Anambra States should be concluded expeditiously to bring about peaceful coexistence in the affected areas. This also will trigger economic growth.
We urge our Igbo brothers to engage the Nigeria nation more purposefully for quality governance rather than agitations for separatist state. Equally the Northern Youths should embrace the oneness of Nigeria as a Nation.
We, as a people in the Middle Belt crave for peace at all times because when war breaks out, we will be at the receiving end as the theatre of war. The last civil war holds very unpleasant testimonies.
LONG LIVE THE GREAT PEOPLE OF IGALA RACE!
LONG LIVE KOGI STATE OF NIGERIA!!
LONG LIVE THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA!!!
￼Ojuju Agbadufu Igala
￼Igala Heritage Foundation
￼Igala Cultural Development Association
￼Igala/Bassa Consultative Forum
￼Igala Students Association
￼Arise Igala Grassroot Sensitization Initiative
And other Socio-Cultural Organizations