IGEDE AGBA GOODWILL MESSAGE BY COMRADE ONU MOSES ONU, THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF IGEDE NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL OF NIGERIA, ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2017 TO MARK 2017 IGEDE AGBA CELEBRATION (NEW YAM FESTIVAL)
My Fellow Youths of Igede Nation,
It is with profound respect, love, humility, joy and gladness that I convey to you warm felicitations and share my feelings with you on this solemn day of our cultural festival given to us by God through the defunct Igede Youth Association (IYA) on Ihigile of September 3, 1957. I am encouraged to reach out to you because of my deep conviction that you share in our collective desire to serve humanity and provide an enabling environment for the individual and collective growth of the Igede nation.
Undoubtedly, the culture of celebrating Igede Agba has come to stay and will be religiously celebrated in accordance with the spirit of our great fathers. No one can validly deny Igede their Agba (New yam festival) cultural celebrations. Indeed, it is a legacy bequeathed to us by our past fathers.
Yes, this year’s celebration marks the 60th New Yam celebration. But, it is worrisome to note that the festival is beginning to loss its essence. The initial aim, which is to use the occasion to showcase the scio-cultural heritage of Igede people and socialize with other people is gradually eroding.
It is pertinent to say, the celebration of Igede Agba (New yam festival) is deeply rooted in the firm belief in patience, which the Igede person is known for. Igede Agba celebration marks the beginning of the harvest season. Indeed, the new yam festival, in our tradition, is the culmination of a work cycle and the beginning of another. But today, it has become a period when most politicians come home to display their ill-gotten wealth and try to grease their ego and smear their perceived political enemies. It has become a time when political sycophants make money through lying and praising their pay masters. It now a time when our leaders go cap in hand to the state government all in the name of sourcing for funds to sponsor Igede Agba celebration, but, more often than not, they end up enriching themselves and their cronies with such funds.
Regrettably too, the once revered new yam festival has been reduced to mere merriment – eating and drinking. Its ideals and standards are being eroded and replaced with the pomp and pageantry that goes with all celebrations in Nigeria. Recently, it is those who have no farms that celebrate Igede Agba the most. They drink and get drunk, fight and cause troubles in the communities denying others the peace and values that Igede Agba stands for. It is now characterized by immorality of various degrees. It has become a period when cases of girls bearing children out of wedlock is the order of the day and many more ills.
Be that as it may, this recent bastardization of the festival has not ultimately taken away the beauty and essence of the festival, it still stands out as one of the most revered cultural festival in Benue and indeed the entire Middle-Belt, nay, Nigeria.
Consequent upon the foregoing, may I make the following few suggestions:
1. Future celebration of this occasion should be designed to stimulate hard work through bestowing awards and honours on farmers who have cultivated the largest farms or have the biggest yams or the most number of yams in their barns in an open, free and fair competition. Also, the community should use the period to honour not just farmers but all other sons, daughters and non-indigenes alike who have excelled in their own areas of endeavour and had contributed immensely to the development of Igede nation.
2. Future celebrations should be marked by well-defined and well organized public lectures, seminars and symposia where we can reflect on achievements and challenges as a people. A time to come together and do SWOT analysis of our socio-cultural and econo-political institutions as a people. A time to take assessment of our economic, cultural and political progress. May be from such conversations, we may be able to redesign or rejig our political and economic alignment(s) and or realignment(s) to suit our desire for optimum econo-political and socio-cultural advancement.
3. The Igede Traditional Council, in collaboration with Omi Ny’Igede and our two LGCs Chairmen should constitute a Central Planning Committee consisting of elders and youths of integrity by January of every year to plan and execute subsequent New Yam celebrations. This committee should be mandated to source for funds and possibly, source for sponsors in order to elevate the festival to an international status. .
4. The Oju and Obi Local Government Councils should leverage on this festival for Igede culture and tourism potentials development and as a catalyst in the much needed improvement in the LGs Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Meanwhile my fellow youths, as we celebrate this year’s festival may we do it with decorum and eschew trouble and all negative tendencies. I implore every Igede youth to be of good behaviour during and after the Igede Agba period.
As we celebrate the festival, may it be an opportunity to make peace and reconciliation. May we learn to forgive others for ills done to us and also seek for forgiveness if we have wronged anyone.
May we also use this rare occasion to visit and share with the poor of the poorest in our community. Let us exchange gifts and food with enthusiasm and joy. The celebration should be carried beyond political, religious and tribal boundaries or borders through sending of gifts to neigbours, neighbouring communities and local governments.
I implore every youth to keep their homes and indeed their entire communities clean by clearing their foot paths.
May we use this celebration to take critical assessments our wards. As our children or relatives come home for the celebration, parents or relations should sit them down and asses the progress made by the wards in the cities over the year(s) and possibly recall home those who are on the decline in terms of productivity and character.
More importantly, in today’s celebration, I implore everyone to save, if not yams in barns or grains in bags, but monies in banks so we can have enough to keep us going till the next harvest season. Likewise, Civil servants should learn to manage their salaries till the next pay just as the Igede farmer has learnt to cope till the next harvesting period.
Finally, as Igede Agba marks the end of a long and painful season of hunger for the Igede man, I therefore charge everyone to make this year’s celebration the end of a very long and very painful poverty era for the Igede people.
Accept my profound respect and warm felicitations, please.
Happy Igede Agba!
Long live Igede Nation!
Long live Igede Agba!
Long live INYCN!
Long live Nigeria!
COMRADE ONU MOSES ONU