LGA and town
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Igueben is a Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria. The headquarters are in the town of Igueben. Igueben has an area of 380 km² and a population of 69,639 according to the 2006 census. The post code is 310.
Igueben was founded around 1516, during the reign of the Benin monarch, Oba Esigie (1504–1550), who was one of the warrior kings of the great kingdom.
War had broken out between the Kingdom of Benin and the Attah of the Igala Kingdom based at Idah, a town on the banks of the Niger River. Oba Esigie sent warriors in pursuit of men from Idah who had invaded Benin City. The Igala kingdom subsequently had to pay a yearly tribute to the Oba for this transgression.
On their way to Idah, these warriors camped at a spot for a number of days before setting out on the final leg. Some months later when they had successfully accomplished their mission, they were returning home when they passed the same camp spot again. Whilst resting there, they found that the remains of the yams they fed on during their outward journey had germinated and blossomed. Searching for food and water, they found lots of succulent fruit and vegetables as well as many animals to hunt. The water from the springs also tasted good. They were very impressed with the fertility of the soil in this area.
A further survey of the place showed that the landscape was flat and had no rocks or mountains; this they thought would be good for farming. There were lots of palm, coconut, rubber and walnut trees together with a variety of fruit like mango, orange, lime, guava, lemon, grape, pineapple, cashew, tomatoes, avocado pear, wild berries, peppers, okra, melon, pumpkin, banana, and plantain. There were also a wide variety of vegetables like water-leaf which grew easily and quickly. They found that tubular root crops like yams, cassava and sweet potatoes germinated and matured quickly.
They knew that news of the discovery of this fertile land would please the king and decided that instead of going back to Benin, they would settle on the land and send their taxes back to him in the form of farm produce instead. They sent an emissary to the king of Benin to obtain permission to set up a new settlement in the area, ensuring that the king saw the advantages of a rich harvest and more crop taxes. After much deliberation, he granted them permission to settle and live there.
To reward these soldiers for their effort and retain their loyalty, the king granted them the patent to engage in bronze casting for added trade; so they joined the Benin Royal Guild of Bronze Casters as the only ones outside of Benin City allowed to engage in bronze casting in the kingdom. (Anyone else caught doing this was put to death or banished from the kingdom, his family disgraced for ever).
The new settlers perfected their craft of bronze casting and the production of the royal pestal called Eben. They cast and sent the Oba an Eben each year to show their gratitude and loyalty for this benevolence; this was accompanied by products from their harvest.
The settlers later named the place Igue-Eben which means a village or camp for producing Eben; and so Igueben was born. The little settlement soon started to grow, particularly with the influx of traders from Benin city. They did business with distant lands toward the north eastern axis from Benin city. Its trade with other areas began to thrive and it became prosperous.
The area today
The village is governed by a traditional ruler called Onogie. The present Onogie is HRM Ehizogie Eluojerior. He, along with his council of chiefs and prominent traditional rulers, maintain law and order in an ever-changing westernized world. This governance system is the same as is used in the current monarchy of Benin and has been in existence since the earliest times in Benin's history.
The indigenous people of Igueben are very hard working, creative, industrious and fun-loving. They are a very literate population with most families educated to university level. They continue to maintain their cultural heritage from Benin, celebrating many festivals and ritualistic traditions.
Their language is a unique dialect of Edo and Esan. They also use Pidgin English, which is a mixture of Portuguese, English and Esan. The majority speak very good English due to their high levels of education.
Today, Igueben is endowed with numerous sons and daughters in various professions e.g. doctors, lawyers, barristers, bank directors, businessmen and women, writers, poets, teachers, engineers, scientists, architects, nurses, technicians, politicians, advertising and marketing professionals, farmers and some self-made millionaires.
Igueben consists of several towns whose suburbs conurbate seamlessly. Some of the popular towns are: Eguare, Oyomo, Afuda, Idumeka, Idumonka, Uhe, Egbiki, Ekekhen Idigun, Idumogbo, Idumedo, Idumotutu and Idumogo. A woman’s town origin may be determined by the manner in which she greets her elders in the early morning; for example: 'Latuse', 'Lamogun, 'Lagiesan', 'Lani', 'Labheze' are peculiar to Uhe, Idigun, Idumonka, Idumeka and Afuda/ Ekekhen respectively.
The people of Igueben are very sociable, showing deep respect for other cultures; this is particularly evident in their ability to marry freely into other tribes and cultures from both within and outside Nigeria. They also possess deep sense of fidelity and social responsibility.
The Onogie Of Igueben Kingdom
HRM EHIZOGIE ELUOJIERIOR JP. On 6 December 1956, a male child named Ehizogie, was born into the Royal family of His Royal Highness, Eluojierior Imadojemu II, the Onogie of Igueben, As the first male child with Royal blood, Ehizogie was therefore ordained by God to rule the people of Igueben KINGDOM.
At age one; the young Ehizogie was taken to his uncle, Chief Negbedion Aire of Opoji in the present Esan Central Local Government Area of Edo State. Ehizogie lived with Chief Aire from 1957 to 1968. During this period, he travelled to so many towns and places in the then Midwest as a Travel Teacher. They travelled to many towns such as Uromi, Ogwashikwu, Asaba, Abudu. He however, returned to Opoji in 1968 to complete his Primary School at St. John’s Primary School; Okhore, Opoji.
He started a formal Secondary School Education at Ugbeka College, Evboehighae near Benin City. Here, he was a School Prefect as a new school. As one of the best students in the Bendel State, he won the Scholarship for three years, (after a rigorous exams) from 1975 – 1978. He transferred to Eghosa Anglican Grammar School, Benin City in 1976 to complete his Secondary School Education. Here again, he became the school’s Food Prefect in 1977. He sat for and passed his WASC with Grade one, in 1978. He also credited his eight papers at the GCE level that same year.
In 1979, he was admitted into the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, where he obtained an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) Upper Credit, Business Administration in 1981 and Higher National Diploma (HND), Business Management, 1983. Between 1983 and 1984, Ehizogie Participated in the National Youth Service Corps Program in Ogoni Area of Rivers State. At the orientation Camp he was made a platoon leader. His primary assignment was in Korokoro Tai, he came in close contact with HRM, G.N.K. Giniwa, a paramount first class ruler of Rivers State, who is currently the Chairman, Rivers State Traditional Council (2013). The relationship between HRM, the Onogie of Igueben and HRM, the paramount Ruler of Korokoro Tai Kingdom, (who is currently the chairman of Rivers State Traditional Council as at 2014) which was conjugated in 1984, had remained unhindered till date.
On completion of his NYSC in 1984, Ehizogie was employed by Vanni Holdings Limited, a Lagos-based Company, as the Budget/Finance Officer of the company. Within seven months of his employment, the young intelligent Ehizogie demonstrated his administrative acumen and prowess to the admiration of his colleagues and superiors. Unfortunately, his work career was short lived due to natural forces. The demise of his beloved father had made his home coming imminent.
In June 1985, a message was sent to the young and promising Ehizogie in Lagos that his attention was needed at home because his father, HRM, the then Onogie of Igueben was indisposed. He obtained permission from his Company’s Director and travelled to Igueben with the intention to quickly see his father, and to return to Lagos after two or three days, to continue with his job. As the saying goes “Man proposes, but God disposes”. Young Ehizogie, NEVER returned to Lagos to continue with the job he cherished so much.
His ascension to the throne of his forefathers had been a remarkable blessing to the people and land of Igueben. Under his reign, Igueben Kingdom has witnessed tremendous development in terms if infrastructure and other facilities. For instance, there are relatively good network of roads, a Local Government Headquarters, re-opening of closed College of Education for over 30 years, sinking of Boreholes. Above all, peace and stability had flourished in this Kingdom in the past 30 years (2015) of his reign. It was this monumental growth in all sectors that later earn IGUEBEN the status of IGUEBEN L.G.A. in August 1996. Since the creation of this Local Government, IGUEBEN has never looked back. It was also in recognition of his innumerable achievements in Igueben Community and Society that the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, his almamater, conferred him with the FELLOWSHIP of the Institution in 2013.
HRM Ehizogie Eluojierior I (JP) had contributed and served the Community and Society in different capacities since his enthronement. Summary of some of the positions held in the past 30 years include:
• Chairman, Igueben Local Government Traditional Council 1996 – date
• Vice Chairman of Edo State Traditional Council 2006-2010 (4 years)
• Chairman. MAMSER Implementation Committee, Defunct OKPEBHO Local Government Area.
• Chairman of PCRC, Defunct Okpebho Local Govt. Area and the present Esan Central Local Government Area.
• Member, National Consultative Group of Population Development (Federal Government Appointment) 1990
• President Zone II Boys Scout of Nigeria Edo State 2000 – Date
• Justice of Peace (JP) 1990
• Fellowship of the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi 2013
• Member – Rotary International 2016
Major facilities include the Igueben General Hospital, the Igueben Grammar School, the Igueben College, the Igueben Mixed Secondary School, the College of Education Igueben, the Union Bank of Nigeria PLC, the Uda Community Bank PLC, numerous primary schools, two major markets and a Local Government Council Secretariat. Its rainforest remains largely untouched.
Igueben has a growing economy. The indigenes engage in retail trade of manufactured goods which they buy from major cities like Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Lagos, Sapele and Benin City. Goods traded include building materials, clothing, electronics, mechanical spare parts etc.
The primary occupation in Igueben is farming. Local produce are cross traded with Northern parts of Nigeria; they sell food products peculiar to the savannah vegetation such as tubular roots like yam, cassava (garri), banana and plantain etc. and buy produce peculiar to arid areas such as beans, onions, groundnuts, potatoes etc. Foreign export include palm produce, rubber and timber.
Igueben is highly affected by urban migration as young and educated sons and daughter migrate to larger cities and abroad for more lucrative job opportunities. The many celebrations and festivals throughout the year provide occupation for many locals e.g. in advertising, catering, costume making, cultural dance and events organisation.
Cultural celebrations like the Ukpe Festival showcasing masquerades, traditional dances, family entertainment and visits; are well worth experiencing. The Onogie’s New Year Festival - Ihuan, which is similar to the Ukpe Festival also affords further opportunity to engage with local traditional practices. There are potentials for tourists attractions such as historical landmarks like the Onogie's palace and rainforest expeditions. These opportunities are yet to be exploited.
- P. Girshick Ben-Amos The art of Benin (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)
- Hon. Barrister Patrick Aigbogun
- Chief Sunday Aigbogun - Ebenzer of Igueben
- Chief (Bar.) Abubakar Yesufu – Ogieneni of Igueben
- Esan people