My thoughts as I journey to Ayingba for today’s ICDA Merit Award as Special Guest of Honor.
Today is August 1st in the year of our Lord 2020 AD and we are headed to Ayingba to celebrate some of our own sons and daughters whom our umbrella body, the Igala Cultural Development Association (ICDA) has found worthy of honour and recognition.
I am always happy when we hold events in the Igala Unity House at Anyigba in Dekina Local Government just like we are doing today. This House is now popularly known as ‘The Largest’ by our people, which is fitting because it is the largest edifice specifically built to showcase Igala Culture, Heritage and Events worldwide.
The Igala Cultural Development Association (ICDA) can always point to this building as one of her achievements. The ICDA executives who led us during the period of construction are visionary men and women who were able to walk the tightrope across political and religious divides to bring us together on this project. I salute them.
Personally, I will always cherish the Igala Unity House as evidence that during my years in politics and government we were able to galvanise intertribal cooperation to bring to our homeland something so useful and beautiful. It is even more significant when I remember that the greatest inspirator we had during the building of this Igala Unity House was a non-Igala who is today the Oga-Onu-Ogu- Attah of the Igala kingdom. I refer to none other than His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
This same Anyigba is where the Kogi East APC Zonal Chairman, the young Alhaji Ahmedi Attah hails from. He is here with me today. Ahmedi is a young, dogged, dynamic and trustworthy go-getter. Even though his rise to prominence may have come through the APC, I know for certain that his influence and leadership as well as his benevolence and charity have crossed boundaries to positively affect people all over Igalaland irrespective of their religious or political affiliation. Even during this Sallah, I know for sure that some people will be praying to God for him based on his outreach.
Also with me on this trip are my brothers, Comrade Chief Edime Amade of Ojikpadala and Mr. Arome John Olofu of Okpo. Edime is a trained Engineer and an astute comrade with over 2 decades of experience in the struggle for good governance, both nationally and in our dear Kogi State. He is a master in Igala oral heritage and proverbs whom we call ‘The Obakinikini Master’. Arome is an Abuja-based businessman and the MD/CEO of Sleek Aro Group of Companies. The company has made a name for itself in custom-made men’s fashion and accessories. You can take it from me that if God keeps us alive and healthy, we will hear more of these gentlemen in the near future.
Also in my entourage are 2 long time friends, one from Ogoni Land and the other from Isiuikwuato LGA of Abia State. Pastor Charles Nna of Natural Science Faculty, UNIJOS handed over to me as Faculty President. Mr. Emeka Grant Onuoha goes way back with me to the prestigious Federal Government College, Kwali, Abuja. We both stayed 6 solid years in the Jungles of Kwali and forged a brotherhood that has stood the test of time and trials.
The 104 Unity Schools in Nigeria have one Motto, Pro Unitate Du Nigeria. For the Unity of Nigeria. Our takeaway is that only within the bonds of unity can friendship lead to lasting cooperation and greatness for a plural society like our country, Nigeria and State, Kogi.
Let me illustrate that lesson better. The Ajaokuta Steel Complex is spread like a jewel across 24,000 hectares of prime Kogi real estate at Ajaokuta Local Government Area of Kogi State. That Complex is probably the biggest thing that the current PMB/APC Administration is going to bequeath to Nigeria. We have a very huge stake in it simply because it lies in our state. That is the power of Unity.
The planned Revitalization of the Complex with its avowed aim of reviving the Nigerian Steel Sector through the Government to Goverment agreement between Nigeria and Russia is shaping up to launch Africa’s next and biggest industrial revolution, and it is happening right here in Kogi State.
Unlike in the past when we settled for only what we was given to us when it comes to the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, this time around our state government is working hand in hand with the Federal Government of Nigeria to make sure we are carried along fully. Kogi State has put a representative into the FGN Committee in the person of Asiwaju Idris Asiru, the Honourable Commisioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning. You can take it from me that we are only getting started in making sure, first that the Complex comes roaring back to life, and second, that our people benefit maximally.
Always remember that all of this is happening under the leadership of the young and rising Chief Executive of our State, my boss, friend but most importantly, my Siamese Twin Brother, His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello. The Oga Onu Ogu Attah. I therefore urge our people to dream big. Greatness is coming to Kogi State and we are the generation that will welcome it.
Even though I said earlier that we are here to ‘celebrate’ our honorees and awardees, in reality we are here to ‘encourage’ them to continue using their good offices and endeavours for the advancement of Oma Igala. To paraphrase our Igbo neighbours, when you praise a great person for what he has done, you are actually using style to encourage him to do more.
I leave you with the following prayers as my good people of Warri, where I did some of my best work as an Oil Industry Executive with the Taleveras Group, will put it:
We pray make we Lizard born crocodile.
We pray make we fowl born Tolotolo.
We pray make Baba God for heaven bless we hustle.
Happy New Month.
Deputy Governor of Kogi State.