Friday, August 28, 2020 8:55 pm
On Thursday, 28 August, people of Kogi State woke up with the news or rather the rumour of the sudden passage of Dr. Michael Ameh Oboni II. His Royal Majesty, Ameh Oboni was the 27th Atta Igala and President Kogi State Traditional Council of Chiefs at the time of the news. He was aged 72 years.
The reverred traditional ruler was said to have died in the early hours of Thursday at a private hospital in Abuja, the nation’s capital. Findings showed that he was admitted at the Nisa Premier Hospital where he allegedly had an unsuccessful pile surgery.
Neither the Kogi State government nor his palace in Idah confirmed the story. However as they did not also make attempts to controvert it, it was taken as the gospel truth. In spite of the unclear situation, the rumoured passage has thrown the Igala kingdom into deeo mourning.
The Agaba Idu, (king of the Lions) was in a class by himself. He was the Paramount ruler of the Igala at home and abroad. The tribe, which controls 9 out of 21 Local Government Areas in Kogi State and pockets of presence in some other states, prides itself as the 9th largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria. The other tribes in Kogi include Okun Yoruba, Ebira, Kakanda, Oworo, Bassa, Ogori and Nupe.
Although, the Atta would rather be described as king over Lions, it is an irony that his most visible insignia is a live tortoise which hangs protruded on his flamboyant tunic at public functions.
Like father, like son:
Ameh Oboni II, ascended the throne of his father, Ameh Oboni I at a very colorful ceremony in Idah in 2012. His Ascension was without rancour as all the four ruling houses in the kingdom endorsed his emergence. This has made his reign relatively peaceful and added to his tremendius influence in and outside his immediate domain.
Part of the influence stemmed from the enormous spiritual power he was believed to possess. Although he was a Christian and probably the only Atta in history that stuck to a single wife, he was well versed in traditional practices. During an interview on his choice of monogamy, he dropped the line “even one wife is too many.”
Like that of his father, his reign was comparatively short. The 25th Atta who died of suicide in 1956, ostensibly to avoid dethronement was on the throne for about ten years. His Successor, Dr. Aliyu Obaje ruled for 56 years. Ameh Oboni II was on the throne for a little above eight years.
More striking however is the closeness in the dates of their departure. The older Oboni according to a report died on the 27th August 1956, while his son died 28th August 2020.
The late Ameh Oboni II was a courageous leader and would pursue the advancement of his kingdom no matter whose ox is gored. Just about three months ago, a federal high court sitting in Lokoja granted an expansion of his kingdom to cover three other local government areas namely Ajaokuta, Lokoja and Kotonkarffe. The judgement which ruffled many feathers was based on more than a century old historical documents and colonial agreements. The reactions generated by the judgement has not settled when death came calling.
Recently, the Apex Igala Cultural Development Association, ICDA became factionalized. As an attempt to force sanity on the union, the royal father wielded the big stick. He dissolved the ICDA executive, BOT and suspended it’s AGM indefinitely. The decisions have not been reversed when he expired.
Ameh Oboni II was born in 1948, barely two years into his father’s kingship. He was brought up under the strict supervision of his parents in Idah. He attended schools in Idah, Kabba and Kaduna. He was in the Air Force for six years before joining the then Kwara State Ministry of Land as an inspection officer. He ended his civil service career as a Deputy Director with the Federal Capital Development Authority.
His death has created a big gap in the country as a whole and particularly in the Igala kingdom.