2024 NEW YEAR DAY BROADCAST TO IDOMA NATION BY HRM AGABA-IDU ELAIGWU ODOGBO OBAGAJI JOHN CON OCH’IDOMA OF IDOMA KINGDOM AND CHAIRMAN IDOMA AREA TRADITIONAL COUNCIL.
MY STEWARDSHIP TO GOD AND IDOMA WORLDWIDE
1. Good morning my great noble sons and daughters, and Happy New Year!
2. I would love to first especially remember our brothers, sisters, and settlers who were gruesomely murdered by daredevil armed robbers on the 20th October, 2023. The news of the incident coincidentally reached me while I was attending the state security meeting in Makurdi on that fateful day, and everyone was visibly worried and showed sincere concern. I pray that God grants their souls and others lost as a result of herdsmen attacked a peaceful rest in His bosom, in Jesus’ name. Amen!
3. May I also use this medium to once again register my deepest condolences to the immediate families of the slain who bear the brunt of this dastard act, praying that the good Lord would grant them the grace and serenity to stay comforted and the fortitude to bear these irreparable losses.
4. As a father of all who are from this great Kingdom, as well as all who reside and do legitimate businesses within our realm, I alongside members of my immediate Council and the entirety of Idomas mourn with you and take this as a direct assault to our collective civilisation and development; we declared weeks of mourning and seeking the face of God Almighty, we cancelled meetings and public
engagements, and significantly, we shifted The Idoma Cultural Festival Week which was initially billed to be hosted in December 2023 to April 2024 to commensurate with the slain and mourn our slain siblings and pave the way for proper security investigation into robbery.
5. The swift efforts of the security agencies with the help of God are in no small measures leading to successes in bringing the perpetrators to justice bringing closure to our mourning community, and ensuring adequate security of lives and properties of indigenes and settlers alike. I would leave the sketchy security details for those saddled with the responsibilities to disseminate as at when due. This shall be either embarrassing or applauding to them on how to unravel this ugly incident.
6. On behalf of the Idoma Area Traditional Council and the entire Idoma Kingdom, it is my honour to appreciate all sons, daughters, and sundries who stood by us during the trying period in our God-given kingdom. All your contributions at your level are highly appreciated.
Specifically, I wish to acknowledge the contribution of Chief Godwin Obla SAN through his foundation, Honourable Michael from Okpokwu LGA, Hon Adaudu from Otukpo LGA, Chief Benjamin Omale, and the Idoma Association in Australia contributed financially and logistically to support the family of the deceased and the security outfits. May God continue to bless you all in Jesus’ most precious name. Amen!
7. Baring the above ugly incident in mind, It is with great delight that I am reaching out to greet you on this New Year’s Day to celebrate with you, pray with you, and along with you all set the tune to adjust the compass of our great Kingdom in 2024 and beyond – we believe and are committed to a united Idoma people with shared responsibility and equitable prosperity for all.
The Idoma Area Traditional Council after wide consultation with rulers, political leaders, and most importantly our God-given subjects have come to the informed conclusion that some self-imposed, barbaric, and harsh cultural practices be expunged from thepractice of our culture and tradition.
8. Though ours is a traditional institution, we have come to note that lack, poverty, and hunger is a pandemic that we urgently need to work towards reducing to the barest minimum in Idoma homesteads, land, and among our people; this being the first step in the tackling of ungodly and suppressive cultural practices that find their roots in the poverty and ignorance of some of my children.
9. We remain committed to the preservation of our cultural heritage, modifying it to meet the best global and godly practices, and embracing the change that comes with innovative ideals and newness. I encourage us all to be open and bold to imbibe humane godly cultural practices and be fearless in deemphasising the negative aspects of it.
10. The Idoma Area Traditional Council after wide consultation with rulers, political leaders, and most importantly our God-given subjects have come to the informed conclusion that some self-imposed, barbaric, and harsh cultural practices be expunged from the
practice of our culture and tradition. Our deliberations arrived at the following conclusions for the immediate adherence of all true Idoma people clans, tongues, and people under the Idoma Area Traditional Council:
a) Prohibition of Costly Burial Rites.
The Imposition of costly prescriptions, stipulations, and requirements on the bereaved family for the burial rites of a deceased person is hereby prohibited, in Idoma land. Burial rites should be conducted within affordable means of the family and as much as possible, concluded within two to three weeks from the date of death.
b) Prohibition of the Practice of Depriving the Children and Wife(s) of the Deceased from Inheriting His property.
The practice whereby relatives deny and deprive the children and wive(s) of the deceased of their right to inheritance of the deceased’s property, is hereby prohibited. For the avoidance of doubt, where the deceased is survived by wife(s) and children, such children and wife(s) shall have the right of first consideration, in the apportioning of the inheritance, in the absence of a written will.
C) Burial Of The Deceased’s Wife.
The deceased’s wife shall be buried in her husband’s place, except in special circumstances where the Wife during her lifetime, was married to and had children for more than one man; in which case, the wife may be buried in her father’s place to allow other husbands and children to partake in the burial rites.
d) Bride Price And Traditional Marriage Rites.
The traditional bride price in Idoma land is hereby unified and fixed at N50,000 (fifty thousand naira, only).
All forms of stringent conditions, stipulations, and expectations associated with traditional marriage are hereby removed and prohibited.
e) Designation of Community Burial Ground.
Indiscriminate burial of corpses within and around the community, especially in residential areas is prohibited, forthwith. Every community is mandatorily required to, within a period not later than 31st December 2024, earmark and designate a place in each village or hamlet, as a Burial Ground, to bury corpses.
Where for any special reasons, a person has to be buried within or around the compound, the permit of the Traditional Ruler must first be sought and obtained and such burial spot or grave must be marked and secured.
11. Result of careful introspection and delivering of hard truths, the Idoma Area Traditional Council arrived at the altruistic.
The conclusion is that the Idoma people as a nation need a clear-cut National Development Plan with realistic timelines for deliverables in marked indices and Key Performance Indicators (KPI): The initiative for an Idoma National Development Plan has been adjudged to be fitly undertaken by a registered entity tailor-made for the trust, buy-ins, and acceptability of all Idomas, offering us all the historical moment of a ‘For Us By Us’.
12. Hence I am delighted to announce to you all today that a non-governmental organisation, ‘OPIATOHA GAYIGENE GIDOMA’ has been registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. All trustees of this organisation were carefully drawn from all four intermediate Area Councils of the Idoma Kingdom.
13. The OPIATOHA GAYIGENE GIDOMA is to be the central organ of the Idoma socio-cultural, educational, economic, and political renaissance, with a sustenance mechanism to involve all Idoma sons and daughters as worthy partners, funders, and benefactors of this laudable initiative to uplift the Idoma Kingdom in all ramifications. All donations and contributions shall be into a Trust Fund and must be carefully and judiciously utilised, monitored, and periodically audited and accounted for in the preceding Idoma Annual General Meetings (IAGM).
14. The OPIATOHA GAYIGENE GIDOMA is a vehicle for human capital development, cultural renaissance, rural development, women and girl child equality, and brings to the fore the self-reliant potential of Idoma people at home and in the diaspora.
15. In the area of infrastructural development, tourist attractions, and establishment of a centre for the globalised positioning and preservation of our most cherished ancestral heritage, we have conceived the idea of establishing the Idoma Social and Cultural Centre in Otukpo to be an effective handy spot for the Idoma National Renaissance, Cultural Resource Centre that would be attracting dignified personalities around the globe, including local and international researchers, cultural enthusiasts, creative persons, and tourists who seek to experience the Idoma culture and tradition.
[T]he Idoma people as a nation need a clear-cut National Development Plan with realistic timelines for deliverables in marked indices and Key Performance Indicators (KPI): The initiative for an Idoma National Development Plan has been adjudged to be fitly undertaken by a registered entity tailor-made for the trust, buy-ins, and acceptability of all Idomas, offering us all the historical moment of a ‘For Us By Us’.
16. The proposed centre would be home to 89-room fully furnished rental apartments for housing expatriates, tourists, local & international business entities/persons, and development partners. Also included in the Cultural Centre are a multipurpose hall, ICT center, mini mall, pharmacy, meeting rooms, restaurants, etc.! Besides boosting the local economic capacity of the ancient city of Otukpo, the centre would essentially provide direct and indirect employment to hundreds of our teeming youths, thereby reducing the rate of unemployment and restiveness within Otukpo and its environs. I hereby present once again the idea to you to take ownership of the project. The project is yours!
17. The conceived edifice would be completed with an aesthetics that combines both contemporary and traditional architectural designs and amenities to create and present an environment that seamlessly blends the past and present, with a Hall of Fame dedicated to an archive of Idoma history, histories of past Och’Idoma, as well as that of other notable people and events that have helped to shape the socio-cultural evolution of the Idomas, contributing to our growth, global spread and developments.
18. When I assumed this exalted throne of our fathers, I inherited two major burdens, vis:
a) Unity among the Idoma subgroups/within the individual clans.
b) Revitalise the Idoma cultural heritage by institutionalising it: I made this initiative public knowledge when I visited the USA in 2022, for the Idoma Annual Convention.
In that event, I unveiled that plans are in top gear for a week-long Idoma traditional & cultural festival to showcase the unique diversity inherent in the Idoma tradition and culture to the admiration of the whole world. This is planned to kick-start with each intermediate Area Traditional Council having a day to showcase their peculiarity, and the grand finale will be when all intermediates will meet simultaneously to receive royal charge and blessings. All events are to happen within Och’Idoma Square, Otukpo. All preparations for this event were in top gear to be done at the end of 2023, but we decided to put it on hold till next year in honour of my children and your siblings who were brutally killed in the Otukpo bank robbery. However, we have concluded plans to hold the first of its kind by April 2024, God’s willing.
It is trite to state that the time has since passed the Idoma Renaissance and the Idoma people very urgently need a known historical archive, museum, cultural guides, musical studios, art galleries, and creativity hubs to harvest and harness the talents inherent in our children and youths. Fortunately, time has proven to us all that oral telling of history and tradition gets eroded with time that is why we, like the rest of the ever-changing world would be leveraging on technological opportunities in our world presently and in future: We shall apply the use of tested technological devices, applications, and software to enhance our information gathering, dissemination, and preservation; this would help in the efficacy at which we source historical information about Idoma, as well as open up multiple channels to access information using the internet and other media outlets, and last but not the least create cloud storage for Idoma facts, history and an Idoma Resource Centre that can be remotely and locally accessible by all who wants to inquire into the Idoma people and land, with an inventory for, tourism, business, and investment opportunities that shall be upgraded weekly to keep potential investors and tourists abreast with genuine and profitable ventures within the length and breadth of our Kingdom. This idea MUST be achieved, God willing.
19. To this end, May I use this privilege to announce to us that we are in the works with well-meaning Idoma sons and daughters to build the Idoma Cultural and Social Centre in Otukpo, our ancestral headquarters. We are also setting up The Idoma Centre for Science and Innovative Education towards a mass drive, encouragement, and support for our children to study more science and technological-related disciplines to make them self-reliant and more productive and employable. This ideal is in line with an object of the OPIATOHA GAYIGENE GIDOMA.
19. I also use this medium to invite you all to become partners in the Idoma Project and advance and help to develop the Idoma nation and her people, reawakening the economic, tourism, and educational potential of our proud heritage.
We are also setting up The Idoma Centre for Science and Innovative Education towards a mass drive, encouragement, and support for our children to study more science and technological-related disciplines to make them self-reliant and more productive and employable.
20. My children, for there to be true and meaningful development, we must imbibe the spirit of brotherly collaboration wherever we find ourselves and ensure to drive support back home, as the popular saying goes, ‘there is nowhere like home’. The world has become a global village where networking and collaboration have taken centre stage in human and capital development.
21. We are pursuing and are open to the
collaboration of local and international cultural organisations, schools, colleges, universities, and local communities as well as spirited individuals for partnership, sponsorship, advocacy, and training of our teeming youths in ICT, entrepreneurship, and other relevant 21st-century handyman skills.
22. Such collaborations would put us at par with sister-cultural partners around the globe for an opportunity to share knowledge, cross-fertilise ideas, cultural exchange programmes, art exhibitions, Cultural Trade Fair, and creation of new possibilities for all.
A United Idoma Front
23. Our unity drive has witnessed a more collaborative interface between the intermediaries, and between the subgroups especially between Igede speaking and Idoma speaking in one Kingdom, Idoma Kingdom occasioned by the fusion of both regalia into one unified one, as a physical totem of our unity and oneness as orchestrated by destiny. I restate again that the innovation of collective regalia for a special purpose is not a replacement for our old existing ones. I am quite aware of how this generated a lot of concern last. The unity of these two major languages in the same kingdom, the Idoma Kingdom is non-negotiable. As traditions, we will strive to look at ours as with different identities. As I used to say, God has not made a mistake by putting us together in the same Kingdom.
24. The need for collaboration for development cannot be overemphasised, hence our commitment to pursue worthwhile collaborations with relevant bodies, public and private sectors, and NGOs. This also serves as a passionate call to you all to get involved in this noble mission of institutionalising our cultural heritage to position it for global exploits; if we will, together we MUST.
25. We have judiciously prepared a draft copy constitution to provide a unified legal working document for all of our Idoma Community Development Associations (ICDAs), which I would present to our most esteemed group of legal luminaries for their valuable contributions and feedback. The unified constitution is being developed, and it will be made available to you as soon as it is accomplished.
26. All Ad’Idoma are enjoined to be good ambassadors in their respective domains of responsibility, both to their host communities and primarily their immediate subjects whom they help us back home to oversee in their diaspora abodes.
27. We have seen a vivid example of the gains of community collaboration in the creation of Kwararafa University Wukari, as championed and funded by our Jukun siblings in 2006, becoming the first community to collaborate in building a university in Nigeria. One can only imagine the gains in economy, education, and infrastructural development this project would be attracting to these people.
Indiscriminate burial of corpses within and around the community, especially in residential areas is prohibited, forthwith.
28. The Idoma people can do more and achieve much more, if and when we adopt a collaborative mindset and lifestyle in love and unity.
29. In conclusion, may God bless you all, and I wish us all a prosperous new year and fruitfulness in all our lawful endeavours with a resolve and commitment to a better and prosperous Idoma with a clear roadmap for our collective development. ‘KWITA KWICHE, IDOMA GIJE GICHO. O’CHE DUNE IGWOWE TO GILA NO’
30. Thank you, and congratulations!
LONG LIVE IDOMA
LONG LIVE BENUE STATE
LONG LIVE THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
HIS ROYAL MAJESTY AGABA-IDU DR. ELAIGWU ODOGBO OBAGAJI JOHN CON FCITN, FCNA, FCCSA, FCCrFA, ANIM, OCH’IDOMA OF IDOMA KINGDOM AND PARAMOUNT RULER OF IDOMA WORLDWIDE AND CHAIRMAN IDOMA AREA TRADITIONAL COUNCIL