Prince Edwin Ochayi is a business man and was the organizer of the Agila Socio-economic Carnival, December 24, 2013.
He told Nigerian Delegate in this interview that the purpose of organizing Agila socio-economic carnival was to create fun for the community and Idoma nation at large, to promote the social cultural heritage of Idoma land and to tell the world the problems that are confronting Agila community and solicit for help.
What informed your idea to single handedly organized Agila Socio-economic Carnival on December 24, 2013?
First, everybody has a place of origin and that place you come from must have some cultural heritage which you want to showcase to the world. The community you come from may also be confronted with some socio-economic problems which you may want to bring to the attention of the world.
Agila as the name implies is a district in Ado Local Government Council in Benue state and situated in Zone C area of the state. Our major language is Idoma and we have our unique culture.
Agila as a district in Ado Local Government is losing lots of its cultural heritages. The communities within the area lack some basic infrastructural developments.
The road leading to Agila has totally become a death trap for its citizens. Most of indigenes of Agila do not come home because there is no good road, no electricity and even water to drink is a big problem.
The community surfers a lot from lack of water to drink or to cook food to eat. There is no reasonable schools in the communities, the available schools are in bad shape, no seat for the pupils to sit in the classrooms to learn.
We are in the school environment now; where the event is taking place, so you can as well take a glance at the classrooms and see things by yourself. How can the students learn without having chair or table to use as learning aids?
In this modern time, some areas in Agila community still do not have electricity, they are still using local lamp as a source of electricity.
The community has been neglected and denied of lots of dividends of democracy.
They need comforters, they need to see what can make them happy like normal human beings, so I feel I could organize this kind of carnival that will bring people together and show our cultural activities and problems to world.
So the purpose of organizing this carnival is to unlocking the vast resources potentials of the Agilaland, identify the challenges and opportunities for the transformation of Agila community and Idomaland at large. It is also meant to present Agila land as a tourist site thereby opening it up to business and innovative opportunities.
It is also meant to create fun for this community and Idoma nation at large, to promote the social cultural heritage of Idoma land and to tell the world our problems and solicit for their help.
Having enumerated all the problems facing Agila district in Ado Local Government Council, what effort are you putting in place as an individual to solve some of these problems, particular the issue of lack of water to drink?
At the end of this carnival, I am going to meet with the chiefs and discuss with them on the area to construct borehole water. I wish I had the fund as an individual; I would come with tractors and other equipments to embark on immediate construction of the road because it has really become a death trap for the people.
I wish, I had the financial muscle to provide chairs and tables for students to use in the classroom, I wish I had the capital to begin the construction of primary health care centre for the people but as you can see, I am a single individual with little money.
But notwithstanding, I will try my best to provide the little that I can do for the people.
I will equally meet with the Ado Local Government Council and the Benue state government to discuss this problem of bad road because it is a capital intensive.
How do you bring other parts of Idoma together to make this carnival more vigorous and acceptable to all?
Idoma is one nation and the carnival is meant for all Idoma people irrespective of your local government or cultural affiliations. The only different is that it is tagged Agila Socio-economic Carnival and the event is taking place at Agila District in Ado Local Government.
The carnival is taking place in Agila, where I feel it is engulfed with lots of socio-economic problems and people need to come and see the kind of problems that are affecting the people and the environment.
All the local governments in Idoma land were fully invited and if you look round the arena of the event, you will see different cultural groups from all the local governments in Idoma areas.
If you take a proper look at some of the problems that are effecting the growth of Idoma nation, you will discover that it is nothing really but self-interest.
We need to sit down as brothers and sisters, talk and iron out our differences rather than picking cutlass and gun to fighting ourselves.
It is time for us to embrace peace, to unite as one nation considering the fact that we are minority within minority in Nigeria. We will cannot develop as a nation, if we keep fighting ourselves.
Take for example, the road leading to Agatu, Agila and other parts of Idoma areas are in bad conditions because we have divided interests.
It is time for us to unite as one entity, it is time for us to embrace peace, it is time for us to holds our hands together and work as one entity to ensuring that there is economic growth and infrastructural development in our land.
If we can work together, the sky will be our limit because we are blessed with some natural resources and we equally have all the caliber of men and women in Iodma land that can make things happen.
What is the level of commitment of Ado Local Government Council or some wealthy persons in the community to making sure that this carnival sees the light of the day?
When people see you trying to plant a particular seed, they don’t come to render any help to you but when the seed is germinated and due for harvest or for sale, they will come to you to ask you how much you are selling it. That is the situation that we have found ourselves now.
For now, we do not have any support from Ado Local Government but personality like Rt. Hon. Steven Omenje, the Deputy Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly is here in our midst and he is giving us his full support; morally and otherwise.
I believe that when he leaves here today, he is going to take the news to the Benue state House of Assembly that we are economically handicap and that we need help. I believe that his friends came along with him from state House of Assembly and they all experienced the bad nature of the road leading to our community when they were coming.
Hon. Steven Omenje believes in seeing his people happy, he believes in human development. He is currently building a magnificent skill acquisition centre for the people, where they will learn different kind of skills that will make them independent of the government.
Apart from Hon. Steven Omenje and few other personalities, who believe in the success of this carnival and who gave us their moral support to ensuring that the carnival comes to pass, no other wealthy person in Agila or Idoma Land has come out to support us. We are on our own for now.
But we have the blessing of all the chiefs in Agila and Ad’ Ado. They are all here to identify with this carnival.
We believe that as time goes on, Ado Local Government Council and other personalities in the society will see the need to partner with us to ensuring that this carnival becomes a yearly event in our land.
To correct any misconception, this Agila Carnival has not taken the position of Agila New Yam festival. The New Yam festival will still be celebrated as usual.
What is your final message to Idoma people concerning this carnival?
I want all of us to come together as brothers and sisters and as friends to brainstorm on how to promote our culture and develop our communities.
The different between the rich man and the poor man is the privilege, so I am begging the wealthy people in our community to share the little they have with people who are in need because the giver never lack.
Our riches do not make us different from those who are in the village as human being.
I am praying to God almighty to provide for me so that I can help the people from this acute suffering.
I am praying and begging for the support of Idoma men and women to come to our aids so that we can join hands together to take this carnival to greater height not only in Ado Local Government Council but in all the local governments in Idoma land.