Kogi, one of the 36 states in Nigeria located in the North-central geopolitcal zone in the middlebelt (central) region of the country.
The state occupies a total landmass of 29,833 km2 (11,519 sq mi) and was created in the year 1991 from old Kwara and Benue states.
Here are some factors that make this state quite unique amongst other states in Nigeria.
1) THE NAME NIGERIA – Many people do not actually know that the name of our dear country Nigeria was coined in Lokoja, the kogi state capital by Flora Shaw, the British journalist who later became the wife of Lord Lugard (first governor general of Nigeria), when she was gazing at the magnificence of the greatest river in Nigeria, the river Niger.
2) THE JUNCTION STATE – The nickname of Kogi state should have been called the ‘junction state’ because this state connects/has a boundary with the highest number of states in Nigeria.
10 states Anambra, Enugu, Benue, Nasarawa, Niger, Kwara, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo states and the FCT are all joined together by this great state.
I think the federal capital territory would have been best situated in this state for complete centralization and unification. Nonetheless the FCT is just a stone throw away from Kogi and infact part of Kogi state was also carved to form the FCT.
3) CONFLUENCY – Kogi state is so significant because this state houses a very remarkable handwork of mother nature -The confluence of the two greatest rivers that run across Nigeria, the river Niger and river Benue in the city of Lokoja.
Anyone who has travelled through Lokoja and has seen the captivating scenery of this confluence would agree with me that it is indeed a spectacular sight.
4) AJAOKUTA STEEL & IRON INDUSTRY – The multi-billion dollars steel & iron industry, the largest of it’s kind in Nigeria was established in 1971 on a 24,000 hectare land. This mighty industry has unfortunately been left moribund for a long period of time, but recently over the years, concerted efforts has been made by the Nigerian government to ensure its full capacity functioning.
This industry is viewed as a potential bedrock for the industrialization of Nigeria.
5) FIRST ADMINISTRATIVE CENTRE – Infact this city called Lokoja is just so important in Nigerian history and it is really terrible to think how much it has been neglected over the decades by past and present administrations in Nigeria.
Lokoja was the first administrative centre of Nigeria because it was the first settlement of the british in Nigeria. It served as the first capital of the old northern protectorate and even after amalgamation of the northern and southern prectorates it also remained the admininstrative centre for a while.
1, Kogi and it’s boundary states
2, The great confluence
3 Ajaokuta steel industry
6) ETHNO- RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY AND MELTING POINT – Kogi state is one state in Nigeria which can really be classified as truly diverse and the same time unifying. The state comprises mainly of 3 ethnic groups which are the Igalas, the Igbirras and the yoruba speaking Okun people, together with other minority groups like Ogori magongo, Gwari, Agatu/idoma and nupe speaking tribes, Bassa, Kakanda and Kupa.
Kogi state is one state that it is extremely difficult to determine between muslims and christians who is more in population. Take for instance the Okun people in the state are predominantly christians, the Egbirra people are predominantly muslims while the Igalas, the largest tribe in the state are somewhat 50/50.
Among the minority groups, the Ogori magongo and the Bassas are dominantly christians, the Kakanda and Kupa are dominantly muslims while the Agatu and Gwari are somewhat 50/50.
Kogi state is the only state in Nigeria which shows true WAZOBIA influences of the 3 major groups of Nigeria, Hausa, yoruba and Igbo (owing to it’s location).
Firstly, One of the major groups in Kogi state is yoruba speaking (Okun) with yoruba origins from Ile-ife.
Secondly, you almost cannot seperate Igala and Igbo history apart (especially the southern part of Igala). Some say according to history Igala and Igbo have the same father, some say one of the tribes begat the other. Nevertheless the cultural diffusion and oneness of the igalas and igbos can be seen through their days of the week, names, language vocabulary similarities, masquerades, intermixed communities e.t.c. There are many igala communities with Igbo origins and vice versa in igbo land, and in some places on both sides, the natives are fully billingual, giving rise to some igbo speaking igalas in Kogi state and vice versa on the other side.
Lastly, the ethnicity of the King (Maigari) and ruling families of Lokoja is one that can hardly be ascertained and this is because of over a hundred years mixing of hausa-fulanis and the aboriginal Nupes in Lokoja. Many of the Nupes in Lokoja are of hausa origin and till date many speak hausa and even identify as hausa. This was clearly what influenced the name of the state KOGI which means ‘river’ in hausa language.
7) GREAT IGALA KINGDOM – Kogi state is home to one of the great kingdoms that existed in pre-colonial Nigeria.
The kingdom was founded in the 7th century by Abutu-eje and lasted until the late 19th century when it was subjugated by the colonialists. It would take another full thread or series of threads to fully explain the great influence, spread, wars, descendants and sacredness of this great kingdom in details.
8 … IGALAS OF YORUBA HAUSA AND IGBO ORIGINS – Many igalas themselves probably do not know that their ethnic group is very unique in the sense that it is the only minority tribe in Nigeria which has clear influences and people of (Wazobia) yoruba, hausa and igbo origins.
For the igbo influences, In the 6th point i highlighted a little about the interesting igala/igbo relationship. Both groups share a great deal of boundary , culture and history together and have been heavily inter-mixed for over centuries now.
For the yoruba Influences, Igala language is basically classified as a yoruboid language, due to it’s linguistic structure which is basically yoruba. Yorubas and Igalas have been neighbours for hundreds of years before the Egbirras migrated from Kwararafa kingdom, settled in between and cut off igalas from yoruba groups. A yoruba speaker who understands various yoruba dialects will be very much likely to understand igala language to a good extent.
Also, according to igala oral history, igalas agree with the Benins that Oduduwa migrated from Benin to yoruba land but passed through igala land where he formed a chiefdom Ife (a town and chiefdom in Igala land till date) before further migrating to Ile-ife in yoruba land and that this is why yoruba and igala languages are so similar. There is a title in Igala land known as the Ojogba of Ife and this is the only king that cannot bow to the great Attah of Igala land till date.
For the hausa influence, Ankpa, the most populated LGA in igala land (2006 census) has communities that clearly acknowledge their hausa-fulani ancestry e.g Angwa town, who are descendants of hausa traders who came to trade with igalas centuries ago and were later on igalanized. This is believed to be the window of islam into igala land. This is quite evident with the fact that Ankpa has the strongest islamic populations in Igala land.
9) VERY RICH CULTURE – I honestly believe that in the north-central geopolitical zone, the people of Kogi state arguably have the richest and most undiluted culture, due to their cultural history, migrations, historical relationship with all the 3 major tribes of Nigeria and even other great kingdoms like the Benin kingdom. Kogi state masquerades, cultural dances, attires, traditional music e.t.c are really wonderful.
Despite being in the north with a large muslim population, there is no single islamic emirate in Kogi state. The Attah of Igala is said to be one of the northern kings who can never bow, stand up or show respect to the Sultan of Sokoto. Kogi state arguably has the largest population of traditionalists in the North-central zone (due to the power of their culture).
1, Great Attah of Igala land
2, Egbirra women in traditional attire
3, Okun traditional dancers
4, Igala masquerade
10) Kogi state is also well known for its tourist attractions, some of which are:
The late Ohinoyi of Egbirra palace, an ancient and modern architectural wonder.
The Inikpi statue built in memory of Inikpi, the daughter of the first Attah of Igala kingdom who was buried alive on the instruction of the Oracle to restore peace and freedom in the land.
Iron of Liberty which marks the spot where slaves that were rescued from slave traders were set free.
The confluence of River Niger and River Benue.
Osome Falls located in Ukpogo. Osome is a stream that makes its way through rocks of different heights before sharply descending in a valley about 50 metres below. The sound the water makes when it hits the ground below can be heard from about 100 meters away.
Mount Patti, Lokoja which is a massive hill towering Lokoja. The Confluence point of Rivers Niger and Benue can be seen from the flat top.
Holy Trinity school Lokoja. This school was established in 1860 by Bishop Ajayi Crowther. It is the first primary school in Northern Nigeria.
Awo tunnel, a former refuge for the royal family in times of war dug during the reign of Onoja Obari. It is about 1 kilometer long.
Lord Luggard’s first residence and office in Nigeria.
European colonial cemeteries.
World war cenotaph
Eganja warm spring
Royal Niger company flag e.t.c.
1 & 2 Ohinoyi of Ebira palace
3, Inikpi statue
4, Lugard guest house.