Och’idoma And The Comedy Of Vanity

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By Ejoyi O. Ode

Idu Oma, the progenitor of the Idoma people would be bemused from the heavens over the fate of Idomaland. A nation is either formed from history or philosophy or the combination of the two, with some other elements.This is how people acquire a cohesive core of values, meaning and identity.

The geography of the Idoma is also a marker of identity. Therefore, the collective culture, traditions, and customs evolve to form the essence of being of the people. Referents of Kwararafa confederacy, dispersal, and migration of the people over time and space to the present day only made the Idomas more resilient in their history and philosophy of experiential existence. Therefore, extraneous influences designed to humiliate and subjugate Idoma people to some Tiv ideology must be resisted and uprooted, and abandoned.

The Idoma ancestral entities and deities can not be rubbished and eliminated through subtle political designs or outright political violence.

The Idoma Traditional Council had existed and acted as kingmakers until Governor Samuel came to end it through an inferior substitute called ‘college of electors’ that is nebulous and alienating. How can you alienate a people by replacing a time-tested institution that had served them peaceably well? The newly created offices of first-class, second-class, and third-class chiefs are artificial, and therefore inorganic and rootless. This is so because the offices did not originate from the people. The beaded chiefs and the district heads have no linkage with them. The power and the authority of these chiefs are inorganic because they are disoriented and dysfunctional. They are a creation of the government. A traditional ruler must derive his power from the people. The ancestral spirits, the Alekwu, guide the conduct of the traditional rulership system. Ritualized celebrations of the traditional gods and goddesses are held in the land for peace, bountiful harvests and general development at regular intervals.

The Och’Idoma institution can not be desecrated by some artificial imports. This must be resisted by all well-meaning Idoma sons and daughters. The very soul of the institution is negated when the beaded chiefs and the district heads of Idomaland are violently cut off from the selection process of the Och’Idoma. The artificial import of the traditionally rootless first-class, second-class and third-class chiefs as kingmakers is crassly offensive as it is a gross repudiation of the Idoma tradition and culture.

It’s a trite notion of law that you can not build something on nothing. The very traditional council that elects and validates the institution of the Och’Idoma is not materially in existence due to Ortom’s subterfuge to minimize the Och’Idoma and thereby heighten the dominance of Tor Tiv. In truth, Och’Idoma and Tor Tiv are co-equals. And so, the chairmanship of the Benue state council of chiefs rotates between the two of them.

The ridiculous exercise that took place yesterday, proclaiming one John Elaigwu Odogbo as Och’Idoma is a moral blight on Idoma people of consequence.
The process was teleguided/micromanaged towards this ridiculous outcome. The significance of the office of Och’Idoma lies in the capacity of ennobling leadership provisioning. The office requires vast knowledge and experience in handling complex organizations and vast resources within the territorial boundaries of Idomaland and far beyond. Mr. John Elaigwu Odogbo does not have a demonstrable capacity to meet the challenges of modernity. He can not give inspiration to University undergraduates. He can not give a lecture at Chattam House in London. Can he attend World Economic Forum(WEF) or World Social Forum(WSF) and make worthy contributions? Can he deliver a meaningful speech in the British Parliament? Can he attend a UN session and make remarks of significance? Can he give hope to Idoma at home and those in the Diaspora?

It’s morning yet on creation day. Ortom would unleash arsenals to belittle the Idoma Kingdom, one step at a time. So, the only gateway open for the immediate challenge is to raise money through any source, one of which is crowdfunding, and go to court to halt this collective humiliation. John Elaigwu Odogbo can not be Och’Idoma through a skewed process. We should be prepared to go up to the Supreme Court to fight this collective shame. Nobody is fighting Agatu. Odogbo is not synonymous with Agatu. He is a negligible quantity. A reimagined scenario or a reset would provide a fresh opportunity for all the contestants in an unfettered space. If one’s mother’s co-wife is better than one’s mother, humility, prudence, propriety, and grace require that we say so, loudly. The more the self-vaunting of Mr. Odogbo through educational and religious/apostolic attainments, the more suspicious his claims become. What is coming out of the Inland Revenue Service about his exit is shameful, to say the least.

Given the full spectrum of the Idoma kingship system and the kingdom, this is an opportune moment for us to go all the way to the Supreme Court, if possible, to get abiding relief from asphyxiating Tiv hegemony and ideology, for us to entrench our cultural identity, meaning, and purpose.
The Idoma people stand vehemently opposed to Motor Park culture taking over the whole of Benue state.


The piece by one Ejoyi O. Ode, set in derogatory language, is unfortunately crafted to envenom Governor Ortom and the entire Tiv Nation. It is a display of trite prejudiced mentality, guile and self subjugation, bereft of reason. And, presumably intended to cause strife and pitch the Tiv against their Idoma brothers.
The Idoma ruler-ship tradition is over 600 years, many years older than the arrival of the Tiv in the Benue Valley. The cherished tradition has 22 clan heads, each with beads handed over by fore-bearers of the clan. These beaded chiefs have always formed the Electoral College for the selection of an Och’Idoma since 1947, when the revered institution was created.
It is banal that Idoma culture and tradition significantly differ from that of the Tiv. For instance, whereas every Tiv man is a prince, heir and potential or future beaded chief (including Tor Tiv), the Idoma have royals from where ascendency to beaded leadership is selected by the people. Consequently, law making in the state to address chieftaincy issues ought to take the various cultural dichotomy into consideration.
Therefore, when the Benue State House of Assembly: comprising the full compliment of Idoma members in the Assembly, and after due process – including public hearing produced the Benue State Chieftaincy Law introducing unified new first-class, second-class and third-class chiefs in the land, concerned Idoma elite, like Mr. Ode should have complained and contested the law. The law was not the creation of Governor Ortom nor Tiv political machination designed to humiliate and subjugate Idoma people.
Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, of blessed memory, before his hunting expedition saw the amended chieftaincy law as an affront to Idoma ancestral entities and deities. There were no new beads handed over by tradition to be awarded the new chiefs created in Idoma land. Agabaidu Obekpa could not directly challenge the vexing and abrasive law directly, however, Obekpa’s son made bold to challenge the law and the matter is said to be under adjudication. It is to be recalled with nostalgia that Governor Ortom’s scheduled visit to Och’Idoma Palace in Otukpo was diverted by Idoma sons on the “security report” that Agabaidu Obekpa had set Aleku to kill Governor Ortom in order to stop the passage of the law.
When it mattered most, majority of Idoma elite – including beneficiaries of the new chieftaincy law, kept mute or sided against their tradition to desecrate Alekwu without projecting the consequences of the emergence of Agabaidu John Elaigwu Odogbo, through the same law. The belated teeth gnashing, campaign of calumny and prejudicial name calling of the highest office in the land is completely unwarranted. The entire Tiv Nation is being disparaged and castigated while some Idoma elite are again hailing the absurdity, as if the Tiv constituted the king makers that elected the new Och’Idoma. Unfortunately, this is also coming at a time many Tiv sons and daughters are calling for gubernatorial power shift to Zone C.
I hold no brief for Governor Ortom or the Tiv Nation. Suffice to conclude that the Idoma elite that choose to desecrate Aleku and side the chieftaincy law were convinced that no tradition is cast in iron, especially in an evolving democratic nation state like Nigeria. I see no offence committed by Governor Ortom or any other Tiv man in this matter. It is bad strategy and misdirected ventilation to attack Governor Ortom or the Tiv, instead of the law that produced Agabaidu John Elaigwu Odogbo.
I take this opportunity to wish all well meaning Benue sons and daughters, a happy and properous 2022.

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