Kogi State Deputy Governor, Chief Edward Onoja responds to a Local artist who asked, in a song, on Saturday in Ankpa whether Igalaland is moving forward by being number two rather than the “traditional” number one position in the annals of Kogi Politics in a speech to celebrate an international icon and World Figure, first Senior Advocate of Nigeria in the Northern Region, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim who is also a former Nigeria Attorney General and Minister of Justice and former Judge at the World Court in the Hague, the Netherlands.
“I will quickly make five quotes in response to my brother the musician that sang earlier
“Equality is the soul of liberty; there is, in fact, no liberty without it.
“We hold this truth to be self evident that all men are created equal.
“That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“Six feet of earth makes men equal.
“All the citizens of a state cannot be equally powerful, but they may be equally free.
“To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race, tribe or colour is like living in Alaska and being against snow.
“Having said that; to answer my brother Oma’Ogani, whose question is “Is the Igala race going forward or backwards?” I am of a totally divergent view. I will answer you by mentioning a few undeniable facts.
“Number one; majority of our attires here are white. We still look all white in the attires we are wearing. Not the typical Igala brown soil.
“Why is that so? This is because Ankpa township road has been fixed by Governor Yahaya Bello.
“Is that moving forward or backwards?
“Number two; I am to visit His Royal Highness the Ojogba of Ife who lost his lovely after this event for a condolence visit. I am making the visit on behalf of my principal, the Governor of Kogi State, His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello. I should hit the road to Abejukolo and be there in twenty minutes; but no, I can’t because the road from Ankpa directly to Abejukolo is unfortunately not easily passable.
“The road was not dilapidated between 2016 and 2019, my believe is before the remaining four years of Governor Bello’s administration, I can drive from Etteh in ths Enugu and Kogi boundary and drive through Okpo in Olamaboro Local Government Area to Ankpa and get to Abejukolo in Omala within an hour and not under four hours as was the case before now.
“Time, they say, is money, so I ask quickly again, is that moving forward or backwards?
“Fact number three; I see very big names of Igala extraction and worthy sons and daughters of the land, the Ebira and Okun sons and daughters here present; be rest assured you will return to your destinations safe and secured. The menace of kidnapping is nearly extinct in Kogi East and the State in general.
“Is that moving forward or backwards?
“Facts number four; just yesterday, under the chairmanship of Architect Gabriel Aduku the former minister of State for Health, at the Kogi State University now Prince Abubakar Audu University, 29 Igala Young minds who graduated with First Class from various institutions, and who were supposed to be awarded with a paltry sum of ₦70,000.00 (seventy thousand naira) each; by the grace of God and by the support of elected officials from Igalaland at the National and State Assemblies and other well wishers, that sum was moved to ₦500,000.00 (five hundred thousand Naira) each so that they can progress and pursue their dreams to becoming great men tomorrow like the man we are gathered here to celebrate.
“The total sum therefore comes to fifteen million Naira.
“Juxtapose that with the over ₦1 billion that was expended in buying nomination forms to get elected from the House of State House of Assembly to the National Assembly and to even becoming governor of Kogi State in the last election. That sum of one billion Naira would have been able to fund, for every year, thirty First Class Igala Students with half a million Naira for 67 years.
“Is that forward movement or going backwards?
Fact Number Five; Architect Gabriel Aduku, yesterday, hinted me that he would be holding an event at the Unyi Udama Ama’oma Igala, the Igala Unity House. I encourage all of us to be in attendance.
“That house was not standing there that way before 2016. I am proud to say that that house stands there as the best, if not in Northern Nigeria, the North Central; it is the Best Edifice among the buildings housing ethnic nationalities among the Kwararrafa descendants.
“Ask yourself, is that forward or backward movement?
“This brings me to the man we celebrate here today. When I met him for the first time in 2018 and solicited his support for the building of Igala Unity House, he stood up without much back and forth, went upstairs and returned with a cheque of half a million Naira as his contribution towards building of the House.
“Sir, your continuous passion and inspiring support for the wellbeing of the Igala people and Nigerians can never be overemphasized.
“You are not just an Igala icon as I earlier stated, you are a national icon and an international citizen.
“You are our role model amongst many big names.
“That drew His Excellency our Governor to write a heavily worded letter of appreciation because of all that you have done for Ankpa people, the Igala Nation and the country in general.
“Yes. You don’t move backwards because your kinsman is not the Governor of Kogi State, you move backwards when your very wealthy and blessed people do not remember that you can only build a better society by investing in people and not in buildings.
“I enjoin all of us, come January 4th 2020 by the grace of Almighty God, four Town Hall Buildings for our people; one of them in the village of the first speaker, Dr Sylvester Onoja, our very dear educationist, in Imane and three others. We are also commissioning about ten Rural Boreholes, all championed by individuals that may not have big names but big hearts for the welfare of their people.
“So, to answer you, my brother Oma’Ogani, Igalaland is moving forward and not backwards.
“Igalaland is moving at a very high speed.
“Thank you and God bless you all.”