The 8th day of January, 2024, will ever remain green and memorable in the history of Ebiraland. It was a day that a new Ohinoyi of Ebiraland was born. And at the center of the epoch making is Ahmed Tijani Mohammed Anaje. Before his appointment by the relevant authorities, he was the immediate past Ohi of Okengwe District and former Vice-Chairman of Ebira Traditional Council. According to available information, he holds a Diploma in Applied Psychology from the University of Jos.
AHMED TIJANI MOHAMMED ANAJE: THE NEW OHINOYI OF EBIRALAND
He was a Warrant Officer in the Nigerian Army as at October 2021, and shortly after this, he was appointed Ohi of Okengwe District. He is of Asuwe sub-clan, the eldest in Okovi Clan of Okengwe District. Other sub-clans of Okovi include Adobe, Ehebe, Eyire, Omovi, Ure and Omoye. Corollary to this is Agada Clan which comprises sub-clans such as Akuta, Esusu, Avi, Ohimoroko and Ogu respectively.
It will be recalled that Ado Abdulrahaman Ibrahim, the immediate past Ohinoyi of Ebiraland died on the 29th October, 2023. And to set the stage for the emergence of a new Ohinoyi, the Kogi State Government set up a committee under the leadership of Salami M. Ozigi Deedat, commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, to commence the process of succession to the Stool of Ohinoyi of Ebiraland.
In pursuant to this, the commissioner, in line with the extant laws, particularly the Edict of 1997, inaugurated the Ebira Area Traditional Council (Council of Kingmakers) on the 11th December, 2023, to commence the process of succession to the Stool of Ohinoyi of Ebiraland.
As a result, the Council of Kingmakers, in accordance with the powers conferred on it by the Edict No. 3 of 6th May, 1997, called on the sons of four districts – Okengwe, Ihima, Eika and Eganyi respectively, who were eligible and interested in the Stool of the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, to submit applications to the Ebira Area Traditional Council for its information and necessary decision. Recall that Adavi District was not invited to put in applications because it has had its turn through Ado Abdulrahaman Ibrahim of Aniku Clan, in accordance with the Edict of 1997.
From available information, seventy-one (71) interested aspirants submitted applications for consideration. At the end of the selection process, seven (7) aspirants were shortlisted for further screening as having satisfied the first set of requirements for appointment to the Stool of Ohinoyi, even though only one of the lot would eventually be appointed and approved as Ohinoyi of Ebiraland by the Kogi State Government in line with the Edict of 1997.
The seven shortlisted aspirants included Dr. Philip Salawu, former Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Ataba Sani Omolori former Clerk of the National Assembly, Brigadier General Yusuf Abubakar Amuda (rtd), Momoh Shaibu, Prof. Ibrahim Onuwe Abdulmalik, Ahmed Tijani Mohammed Anaje and Ahmed Momoh Jimoh. Thereafter, the list of shortlisted seven aspirants was forwarded to the Kogi State Government by the Ebira Area Traditional Council for consideration and approval.
In searching for who would be the new Ohinoyi, it is my hunch that the state government must have been guided majorly by the dictates of the Edict of 1997, and perhaps in deference to societal needs and aspirations, respect for legal opinions, including the need to play down the nebulous claim of existence of monarchical dynasty, all these factors might have influenced the choice of Okengwe District as next in line to produce Ohinoyi, in addition to the adoption of diffused dynasty as the new system of appointment to the Stool of Ohinoyi of Ebiraland.
At the end of the search within the District, the mantle of leadership fell on Ahmed Tijani Mohammed Anaje such that his appointment as effectuated by the Ebira Area Traditional Council was also given the needed imprimatur by the state government. On Monday, 8th January, 2024, the Governor of Kogi State Government made a formal announcement of the appointment of Ahmed Tijani Mohammed Anaje as the Ohinoyi to the people of Ebiraland.
The information at my disposal has it that since the announcement there has been wild jubilations by the majority of the people with full praises for the governor for his judgment and pragmatism. With the serene atmosphere pervading the polity so far, it may be correct to say that it is an indication of acceptability of the decisions of government.
As earlier stated, the 8th day of January, 2024, will remain epochal in the history of Ebiraland. And having said that, it is important we take a look into some possible takeaways within the context of further enrichment of our understanding of the chieftaincy institution in Ebiraland given some palpable misconceptions on the same institution. First, the appointment has re-affirmed the age-long position or belief that monarchical dynasty has never existed nor practiced in the land.
The views, opinions being expressed or canvassed in some quarters regarding the institutionalization of monarchical dynasty has been laid to rest in perpetuity by the state government, and instead opted for a diffused system of dynasty, in accordance with the dictates of the Edict of 1997. The fact that Ibrahim Chogudo Onoruoiza and Muhammadu Sani Omolori had had the opportunity of ascension to the Stool of Ohinoyi overtime should not be misconstrued as amounting to an institutionalization of monarchical dynasty in Ebiraland.
Even if we are to accept the argument of existence of royal system in Ebiraland, it is interesting to know that the Edict of 1997 has gleefully put an end to it, in addition to ensuring that henceforth the Stool to the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland should be rotated among the statutorily designated five districts of Ebiraland, that is, Adavi, Okengwe, Ihima, Eika and Eganyi respectively.
Second, this has to do with the statuses of sons and daughters of Ebiraland. It should be borne in mind that all sons and daughters of Ebiraland are royal-blooded, and it is for this reason that they can affix prince or princes to their names if they so wish.
Third, the first and second paramount rulers of Ebiraland were Ibrahim Chogudo Onoruoiza of Aniku Clan of Adavi District (1917 – 1954) and Muhammadu Sani Omolori of Omavi sub-clan of Okovi Clan of Okengwe District (1956 – 1996). Their appointments were regulated by the colonial government. In other words, they were products of the colonial administration. Ado Abdulrahaman Ibrahim, son of Ibrahim, the third paramount ruler held sway between 1997 and 2023.
The fourth Ohinoyi and the latest is Ahmed Tijani Mohammed Anaje of Asuwe sub-clan of Okovi Clan of Okengwe District who emerged on the scene on the 8th January, 2024. The appointment of Ado Ibrahim and Ahmed Anaje were regulated by the Edict No. 3 of 6th May, 1997. Given the chronology and distributions of Ohinoyi then and now, will it be correct to say that a single family and/or district have monopolized the Stool of Ohinoyi of Ebiraland? I think the answer is in the negative. What this also connotes is that there has never been a monarchical dynastic or royal family system in Ebiraland.
Therefore, those who are vehement in pursuing the argument that dynasty had and still exist should be told in clear terms that they will be doing the people of Ebiraland a huge favour if they can produce any law or any document or instrument to support or back their position or claim, adding that if they are not able to do this, I think their views should be regarded as null and void and therefore of no consequence whatsoever. In summary, it should be noted that the argument of existence of royal system is a fallacy and has no foundation either in oral or written history of Ebiraland.
Fourth, the Edict of 1997, particularly Section 3 (a, b, and c) has laid down the procedure for ascension to the Stool of Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, with a proviso that the stool should be rotated among the statutorily designated five districts, that is, Adavi, Okengwe, Ihima, Eika and Eganyi respectively.
And in view of this, and given the import of the appointment of a new Ohinoyi, it is important to bear in mind that Royal District has been recognized and enthroned in Ebiraland, meaning that the Stool being a common patrimony would be accessible to the five districts of Ebiraland. As Adavi has had its turn and Okengwe is currently having its turn, it will be the turn of Ihima, Eika or Eganyi respectively as and when necessary.
Fifth, the appointment has also created a roadmap or pathway to follow regarding the appointment of Ohinoyi of Ebiraland in the future.
Sixth, the appointment has also made it very clear that the stool of Ohinoyi of Ebiraland is not a fiefdom of any family; but rather it is a common patrimony for all sons of Ebiraland to aspire to if it is their turn to produce Ohinoyi. In other words, all sons are potential Ohinoyi.
With the appointment, there is no gain saying the fact that Providence has smiled on Ahmed Tijani Mohammed Anaje, thus making him the numero uno of Ebiraland. It should be mentioned that in a situation of this nature there are always some prices to pay. As a start, and with profound respect, I would want to implore the Ohinoyi to please develop a very large heart to accommodate all and sundry as his subjects whether young or old. It is also my plea that he should endeavor to refrain from discrimination in all forms, and more importantly develop a big stomach for democracy both in form and practice.
The possible implication of love for democracy is that not only will the people be at home with your policies, but also they will be willing without prodding to gleefully implement such policies for the advancement of Ebiraland. Furthermore, vengeance is evil that does no good to anybody. And as much as possible it should be spurned at for the sake of unity, peace and harmony in the land. It is also my expectation that there will be a gradual gravitation towards magnanimity in victory, as well as to extend a hand of fellowship to the co-contestants who were also deserving of the stool ostensibly to secure their support and understanding towards putting in place policies and programmes for the collective growth and development of Ebiraland.
The Ebira Traditional Council and the state government should be commended for the smooth conduct of the process that culminated in the appointment of a new Ohinoyi. The general public should not be left out in the commendation. The serenely quiet post selection process is an eloquent testimony of a job well done by the Council of Kingmakers.
In capping the glorious moment, two events took place, that is, the Ohinoyi was turbaned on the 9th January, and on the 25th January, 2024 he was presented with the Staff of Office. At the presentation ceremony at the official Palace, Okene, Yahaya Adoza Bello, the Governor Kogi State (now ex-governor effective January 27, 2024), called on all sons and daughters of Ebiraland to come together and support the Ohinoyi in his quest for the transformation of Ebiraland.
I am at home with the admonishment of the governor and it is for this reason that I would also appeal to all sons and daughters both at home and in the Diaspora to extend their hands of fellowship to the Ohinoyi so that jointly we can build a better Ebiraland. The formal presentation of Staff of Office to the new Ohinoyi of Ebiraland signaled the official assumption of duty as Ohinoyi.
To the Ohinoyi, please accept my heartfelt congratulations. It is also my fervent prayers that your reign ushers in unprecedented progress, peace, unity, love, harmony and prosperity in Ebiraland.
I wish you a huge success in the task ahead.
ISIAKU ABDUL RAJI AHUTU
0803 242 4156
7th February, 2024.