“…it will be unfair to the Igala people if a person who has exhausted his service years is brought to retire into this demanding office”
Once upon a time, the stool of Atta Igala was more of a “privilege to reign” than a “call the serve”. That was when all that was required to occupy the stool was to be entitled to it. It did not matter if the person seeking to occupy the stool had the requisite ability and desire to lead his people in the best of their interest.
That was the era an Atta was a law unto himself with unlimited powers and privileges; but with no obligation.
Gradually, things began to change, Atta was no longer just a lord over his people, but a lord in service of his people. This became ripe with the advent of the colonialists; wherein Atta had to represent, strive, negotiate, permute and even lobby on behalf of his people.
The social status and age of an Atta became important as his responsibilities began to expand. this era coincided with the emergence of Atta Ameh Oboni, the youngest Atta on record. It is safe to conclude that Ameh Oboni passes for the most famous Atta, with several developmental achievements to his credit, including; the Idah aerodrome, construction of long stairs down to Ocheche river, construction of the first mud fence round the palace, etc.
While people agree that Ameh Oboni is the most famous Atta of all times, little is said about the fact that he is still the youngest person to ever occupy that stool; and this is the essence of this intervention.
Ameh Oboni’s age at the time he became Atta has been estimated to be between 31 and 33; and I am convinced that this was exactly why he was able to achieve such feat.
For emphasis, In 1946, Atta Ameh Oboni ascended the throne at the young age of 33
In 1956, Attah Aliyu Otulukpe Obaje ascended the throne at the age of 36
In 2016, At the young age of 15, Chukwuka Noah Akaeze I lost his father on the 5th of January, 2016, to replace King Obi Akaeze Edward Ofulue III, as king of Ubulu-Uku Kingdom in Delta State, following the vacancy of leadership in the Kingdom, the successor to the throne, the young Prince had to take up the position.
However, at the time of this arrangement, Chukwuka was still in a secondary school in the UK and wasn’t set to return to Nigeria till he was 20 or 21 years old. Therefore, his uncle Anthony Ofulue was chosen to act as his Regent until Obi Chukwuka’s return.
In 2015, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, The Ooni, of the Yoruba kingdom of Ile-Ife was crowned at the age of 41.
King Benjamin Ikenchukwu, Dein, KEAGBOREKUZI 1
ascended the throne after the unfortunate death of his father in 1979. He was 2 years and four months when his father died. He grew up and studied in Buckingham Palace UK for 27 years before finally returning to his Kingdom in the year 2000
The record of the AGBOR Monarch as the youngest Monarch was recorded in the Guinness Book of record in 1981.
Considering the jet-age which we are, an Atta should not just be smart, he should be a technocrat who is up and doing; and all these qualities are more likely to be found in a youth. Apart from these, a young Atta is likely to reign longer, what this means is that it will guarantee a focused and lasting administration.
Now that Igala Kingdom is again confronted with the task of choosing another Atta, those saddled with this responsibility must think deep, they must ensure that the stool is not made a retiring ground for tired and retired people. The stool is not a place to rest, it is a place to sit and serve; and it will be unfair to the Igala people if a person who has exhausted his service years is brought to retire into this demanding office.
In accordance with Kogi State Government Gazette titled : ‘Igala Area Traditional Council ( Modification of Native Law and Custom) Order, 2015 Procedure and Regulation for the Selection and Ascension to the Stool of Attah Igala’ signed by Kogi State Governor in 2015, Which places Aju Ameacho Royal clan as the next in line of ascension, the Igala Kingmakers are faced with an herculean task to think deep to select a young and vibrant Atta Igala designate from this clan based on the aforementioned points.
This is not an endorsement of any of the contenders, but a call for deep thinking.
Long live Igala Kingdom.
-Okeme Okpanachi writes from Abuja.