(OPINION): Ajaokuta, Lokoja, Koton-Karfi: If a Rejected Natasha Akpoti will Fight for Ebira Land?

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A popular saying goes thus that “one does not know the value of what he has until he loses it”. Just like in the bible verse where the rejected stone by the builders became the chief cornerstone, the current reveries of Kogi Central (Ebira) people is not a different expirience from the hard lessons learnt by those builders. The big blow caused by the recent court judgement on Kogi land dispute is still pending a decisive leadership. Especially at the federal level where where the Anthony General of the Federation was respondent.

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Kogi people, especially the Ebira extraction were thrown into wilderness on the 2nd of June 2020 when a high court sitting in Lokoja declared Koton-karfi, Lokoja and Ajaokuta as part of Igala Kingdom and under the jurisdiction of the Attah Igala in a suit which the Anthony General of the Federation and that of Kogi State were respondents.

Added to the sudden shock was an award cost of N10 billion Naira compensation to be paid to Igala Kingdom for Illegally operating on her soil without royalties for years.

Receiving this unpleasing news, the despair of the Ebiras is not only in the unforseen court ruling but in the fact that an Ebira powerful son is currently occupying the Lugard house with loaded record of victories in all his legal battles since assumption of office. Whether or not the governor might have traded the case as ‘thank you’ gift to the Attah for his re-election; or he had no prior knowledge of the case; are questions of time as events unfold.

While many were still hunting for the truth behind the sudden court ruling, some Ebira sons and daughters loyal to the current Kogi administration took to social media, drumming for war against the Igalas. Some were recorded chanting in Governor Bello/Onoja violent campaign slogan of tata-tata-ta (which signifies sporadic gun shots). Others called out GYB (Governor Yahaya Bello), the Ohinoyi of Ebira and NASS members from Kogi Central to wake up from slumber and save their leaning territory (Ebira Land).

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Days after, the looming darkness continued. There seemed no clue on the faith of Ebira Kingdom. Interestingly, a swift hope turned to a once rejected daughter of the land. Social media was littered with captions calling on Natasha Akpoti (Amazon) for rescue. Mixed captions trilled; some called for rescue, some remorseful over rejecting Natasha in recent pasts, others expressed anger and displeasure over her ordeals.

Some of the captions read “Natasha we know we have sinned against you but we need you at the moment”; “where is our Amazon?”; “Some leaders only know how to fight Natasha Akpoti but to claim their father land is impossible”; “We need Natasha Akpoti on this fight”; “Senator Oseni this fight is yours not Amazon”; She is a Russian, she is a woman, she can’t lead us, now we need her to come and fight for Ebira land, shame!”; a lion that cannot protect his father land will be used as goat in Another man’s land, I am hopeful one day a great soul Natasha Akpoti will rule our land”; now they know the golden daughter is not a Russian but Anebira”.

No doubt, these are not unconnected to the dose of insults, assault,, attacks, persecution, and humiliation Natasha was made to face in a bid to liberate the Kogi Central (Ebira) people from sufferings and pains. The same people she was fighting for were turned against her by the APC Yahaya Bello-led Government. Against all Natasha’s call for liberation, the people were denied one of the brightest chance they ever had to elect the best to represent them in the Senate.

History will forever have it that the 2019 Kogi Central Senatorial contest was nothing but a clear battle between a powerful darkness and a struggling light. From a third force SDP in Kogi State, Natasha Akpoti defeated the incumbent PDP Candidate and the anointed APC Candidate through a historical political campaign movement centred on social justice and economic development across Kogi State. Unfortunately the will of the masses got shortchanged by the powers that be. Worthy to note that same powers prevailed in the November 2019 Kogi Gubernatorial election.

Days to the Governor election, by a whisker, Natasha escaped death in the hands of armed thugs closely associated with Governor Bello and APC. On the election day, the Ebira majority sold out their daughter for token and intimidation. The rejected Natasha was forced to a choice between standing alone in truth and/or joining the bandwagon of falsehood. But she never seems to have settled for the former.

How time flies and memory fades that the same Natasha Akpoti is to be the saviour on the same land of rejection and persecution? With which authority or from which office will Natasha operates in this capacity the Ebiras wants her?

It was Martin Luther King who said “there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair. There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November. There comes a time.”

We must be reminded that Natasha is not a machine. Natasha is human like any other Ebira. She is a passionate daughter who simply wants the best for her people. Not just her people but the generality of Kogites and Nigerians.

Too late to cry when the head is off. If Ebira people would understand that a time like this could come, then they shouldn’t be convinced to put in an intelligent, outspoken, charismatic, courageous person to represent them against all forms of sentiment or intimidation.

I hope the Ebiras would have learnt their lessons while making a way out of this trial.

Owuda Momoh

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