… AsKogi govt lifts ban on five proscribed Igala cultural festivals
From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
Dr Michael Idakwo Ameh-Oboni
The Atta Igala and President, Kogi Council of Chiefs, Dr Michael Idakwo Ameh-Oboni 11, at the weekend prayed God to forgive those behind the proscription of five annual cultural festivals in the Kingdom since 1963.
The Royal Father who made the prayer at a Press Conference in Lokoja in response to the lifting of the ban on five Igala cultural festivals described tradition and custom as a way of life of a particular people.
He also described the proscription as the greatest injustice meted to the Igala race to deprive them of their right to interact with themselves and the environment.
“The greatest injustice is to deprive human beings of the right of interacting with themselves and the environment. This is the height of mischief in our colonial administration/self government.
“But some people, out of over-zealousness, out of religious bigotry and the desire to please their masters in Kaduna and so on, decided to clamp down on our culture.
“This was done as far back as 1963. We thank God that 55 solid years after, somebody who was not given birth to by that time has now come to remove this stigma from our treasured culture.
“We are grateful to the messenger of peace, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Kogi State governor and we will ever remain grateful to him for sometime to come”, the Royal Father said.
He however said the traditional council and the people of the kingdom had forgiven those behind the proscription “which made us to live like people in exile.”
“May the Almighty God forgive those apostles of the falsehood and deprivation who, because of religion and position, wronged the entire race and the kingdom.”
The Attah Igala said he had set committees to see that the five festivals were revived and for the Ocho festival to commence before the rainy season set in.
Ameh-Oboni II dispelled reasons adduced for the proscription including human sacrifices as a farce and ploy to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it, adding that he had prayed God to forgive them.
It would be recalled that Gov. Yahaya Bello on Thursday lifted the ban on the five Igala annual festivals of Ochoa, Egwu, Ogbadu, Ogaganyi and Iyalo proscribed in 1963.
In his determined effort to promote and preserve the culture and customs of the people of kogi state, Governor Yahaya Bello has resuscitated five Igala annual cultural festivals proscribed by the then Government of Northern Nigeria since 1963.
The five revived Igala annual festivals are, Ocho, Egwu, Ogbadu, Ogaganyi and Iyalo.
The Special Adviser to the governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Abubakar Ohere who announced this in Lokoja while briefing journalists on the development, noted that the government has to unbanned the festivals after due consultation with the critical stakeholders from Igala land, adding that the then government of Northern Nigeria banned the festivals without consultation with the people .
He said these festivals which were being celebrated every calendar year across the length and breath of Igala land were used to unify and preserve the culture and tradition of the people.
According to him the unbanning of these festivals will enhance tourism potentials of the state even as it will attract investors to the state for growth of the economy.
While reiterating his commitment to the over all development of the state, Ohere said the administration is poised to use traditional and cultural values to foster unity across the state.