James Ibechi

Acting Och’Idoma and the fragrance of change

 By Elvis Ogenyi, PhD

Ortom and Ede

The African tradition allows for a perception of the king as a personality with an undying aura, permanence and longevity; a superhuman with undeadliness, abiding grace and the reverence of his subjects therefore, should a situation violate the king’s sacredness and tries to unveil his mortality through death, it is  simply explained as his journey in the forest.

 Such was the situation in Otukpo, the Idoma traditional fortress, when Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, Och’Idoma (IV) recently translated and went the manner of his forebears and in keeping with tradition, he was reported to have receded into the forest on a hunting expedition which is interminable.

In the happenstance, the law was invoked to fill the resulting void and the Enone First Class royalty, Chief George Aboh Edeh, was inviolably installed as acting Och’Idoma, an honourable but taxing responsibility which is thrust on the shoulders of the retired Head of Service of Benue State and he is expected to credibly discharge but by no means to meet the expectations of all.

As Och’Idoma, acting or substantive, the fatherly role to embrace all Idoma is an unfailing expectation and His Royal Majesty Edeh, does not appear unknowledgeable but well schooled in it, has extended equal treatments to all his subjects, irrespective of social and economic leanings and despite a gangup by a few against his ascent to the Enone royalty which was pleasantly drawn in the flood of support of a friendly multitude that occasioned his present reality on the throne.

His ease of forgiveness has further enhanced his role as a father to all hence, he bears no grudges against his assailants but believes that two wrongs do not make a right since an average society is consists of allies and adversaries, educated and  misinformed, friends and irritant critics, each required in the social space for progress.

Critics are desirable element when their prodding is thoughtful and forward driven and when their position in an organic exercise does not desecrate the hallowed chamber of corrective reasoning but subscribes to acceptable norms of society and seeks to ammend a past faultline for greater impacts, therefore, they remain respectable and venerated.

Some critics are organic intellectuals with worthy euphonies and acceptable  purviews pleasing to the senses. Others however, are tantrum throwers opposed to reasonings and in every noble cause, ply their trade with ignominy and vile and hardly accommodative of  profound ideas and visions creatively manifested.

This was witnessed during the election for the vaccant stool of Enone First Class chief in 2020. The noble personage, Edeh won the election in a landslide and his enthronement on the royal stool of Enone marks a new beginning of social equality devoid of prejudice and rights denial within the royal space of the Idoma community.

 While the convention or rule of thumb tend to restrict the eligibility for an enthronement as the Idoma paramount ruler,, there is no law in existence which forbids a free-born Idoma-man from aspiring to it or for the royal insignia of a First Class chief, clan or district head as such but an unfounded practice in some parts of the area alienates some people and the injustice perpetuated over a period of time has assumed the form of a culture which acting Och’Idoma Edeh, has now pleasantly overturned.

 Agabaidu Edeh is therefore, an ambassador of progressive bargaining for a better Idoma, an epitome of success and a seeker of peace and unity among a people who are steeped in needless acrimony and discord but in a new spirit of oneness are now set on a cultural platform that restores equality traceable to their historic root.

Providence has been kind to Idoma but afflictions of ego and discord among the elite have stalled the required growth and development of the area and in the evolving era, a change for the better is the expectation where every Idoma is given his dues without discriminations therefore, the manner which the acting Och’Idoma Edeh, has etched an inspiring writing on the wall with an adorable interest for the peace and comfort of Idomaland is heartwarming.

Among indications of an inspiring future ahead is the wealth of goodwill extended to the Idoma Area Traditional Council under His Royal Majesty Edeh with the recent visit to the council by the Mabudi Babba of Lafia, Gen. Lawrence Onoja(rtd) as one of the most outstanding because, despite the denial of the council in past years to honour him, Onoja was the first Idoma elite to pay a homage to the current council.

It is a bit disturbing why a personality of the stature of the retired army general  would be denied a chieftaincy title by the Idoma Area Traditional Council when far less personalities have been accorded the honour and despite his recognition by the Lafia Emirate Council for a similar honour, an incident which perhaps underscores the truism that a prophet is despised at home but is cherished and treasured outside?

In the new beginning in Idoma, it is worth stating that Onoja, known for significant  achievements in  Idoma, and others like him not yet accorded recognition by the Idoma Area Traditional Council, should be given their dues while disputes and conflicts among the elite and among communities retained on flimsy cultural or traditional grounds should be resolved under the new climate of change.

The venerated seat of Och’Idoma currently occupied by His Royal Majesty Edeh in the interim, is the rallying point of Idoma and requires the support and goodwill of all, irrespective of social or political inclinations especially, since his emergence on the throne is unique and divinely arranged being it the first time that an Agila-born personality, a gentle, disciplined servant-leader with the milk of kindness, will serve as the Idoma paramount ruler with a substantive role as Och’Enone.

*Culledd from The Voice newspaper

Categories: James Ibechi

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