Joseph Adi Keana argues that the Uban Doma’s perspective is flawed

The uproar over the paper presented by the Uban Doma/Hakimin Keana North, Musa Elayo Abdullahi on 2 October 2020 in Keana, Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State has compelled me, as a custodian of the history of my people to write this rejoinder.

Abdullahi’s paper which was presented on the 4th anniversary of 34th Osana of Keana, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Abdullahi Amegwa Agbo III drew the ire of many Alago speakers.

Highpoint of the occasion was the official commissioning of the Palace Juma’at Masjid by a very distinguished guest, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III. It was no doubt a colourful event but the presentation by my own brother, Abdullahi robbed the moment of its grandeur. The glory of that gathering was vitiated by the Uban Doma’s apparently jaundiced perspective on the story of the very place he hails from.

His paper entitled, “Growth and Development of Islam in Keana Kingdom” was cockeyed, biased and far removed from verifiable facts on the ground. The foremost flaw in the Uban Doma’s narrative is the flagrant disregard for the activities of Christian missionaries in Keana. He painted a picture of only Islam making incursion in Keana, totally leaving out the very vital and functional footprints of the Christian missionaries whose relics stand side by side those of their Islamic counterparts. In his list of Osanas of Keana, he left out the fact that Keana has produced an Osana who was a staunch Christian.

The 33rd Osana of Keana, His Royal Majesty, Osana Emmanuel Onyatikpo Elayo (OON, KSM, JP), a devout Catholic, was a descendant of the founder of Keana and the first Osana of Keana, the legendary Akanya Adi.

I am surprised that Osana Emmanuel Elayo who was in the forefront of the agitation for enforcement of the fundamental rights of the Alago since colonial time would be so easily forgotten. This is a man that laboured and paid dearly for protecting the Keana traditional political leadership. And his concern was not just for Keana but for all the Alago people and their neighbours. He was persecuted by colonial authorities in 1950 when he was arrested and detained.

As far as I know, we are all descendants of what we commonly call “pagan”. The epic Akanya Adi was neither a Christian nor a Muslim yet he occupies a very distinguished position in the history of our people. There is therefore no need for twisting facts.

The kind of writing the Uban Doma did has potential for acrimony and animosity. Is it not better we avoid things like this and toe the path of truth?

The Uban Doma weeded an entire 13-year (2003-2016) history of the Keana kingdom. Curiously, this was the period of the reign of the 33rd Osana who was a Christian.

I cannot place my finger on what made the writer do what he did. One might say he lacked the knowledge. However, a writer who embarks on the mission of chronicling events must have studied the tools of historical writing. Had he consulted stakeholders of the Keana kingdom, he would not have made these errors.

Osana Emmaneul Elayo who traversed the entire Nigerian public service space; at a time sitting in the topmost chambers of the lawmaking arm of government, left the throne only four years ago. What manner of amnesia would make a writer forget a vital subject of history that left not quite long?

Well, I would like to help Uban Doma because it is not too late for him to put right his error-riddled work. I recommend a recent book entitled “A Million Miles Away: A Bibliography of Emmanuel Onyatikpo Elayo – The 33rd Osana of Keana” to him. It is a very objective treatise not only on the person of 33rd Osana but the checkered history of our people. It was put together by scholars who are no indigenes of Keana.

Lest we forget, the same Osana Emmanuel Elayo left numerous children, both as Muslims and Christians in all walks of life. Some are titleholders in Keana, so I just cannot see how this name escaped the Uban Doma.

Though a Christian, Osana Emmaneul Elayo did not discriminate against his subjects for their diverse religious leanings. He preached love in diversity, tolerance and togetherness. He believed that the palace belongs to all – so-called pagans, Christians and Muslims. And truly that is the philosophy of the people of Keana. Anybody who becomes Osana can live in that palace.

Osana Emmanuel Elayo was in the forefront, fighting for the emancipation, unity and progress of the Alago and that placed him as the leading star of his people. He was the first Alago to be councillor in the days of the old Lafia Native Authority.

Indeed, the modern history of Keana is synonymous with the developmental strides of the 33rd Osana of Keana. The major road leading to Keana which was built in the days of Solomon Lar administration in the old Plateau State is a product of his struggles for the good of Keana.

In fact, the Uban Doma in his mind knows well that he is a beneficiary of the good works and generosity of Osana Emmanuel Elayo just as I am. No Osana in the modern day Keana is comparable to Osana Emmanuel Elayo whose political and leadership height was quite high. As a founding member and BoT member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he was among the great men who fought to restore democracy in Nigeria.

Yet, all this meant nothing to my brother because his mission was to impress a given people. He set out to warm the heart of a particular audience but a writer is better appreciated when he writes for the general public.

Yes, I believe the Uban Doma is not unaware of the great strides of Osana Emmanuel Elayo. I plead with him to discontinue with this task of impinging biases on narratives that witnesses abound.

I therefore, urge dispassionate professionals (especially of Alago) like historians, anthropologists, sociologists to begin to voraciously produce and circulate works on the people of Alago nation so records will not continue to be distorted.

I would like to express my profound gratitude to the executive governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III for their commitment to peaceful coexistence among Nigerians. Since becoming governor, he has brought peace– there are no more incidents of ethnic strife in Nasarawa State. This is a gesture all peace-loving people should emulate and desist from stoking the ambers of anguish and discord.

The Sultan of Sokoto came from far away Sokoto with a very strong message which if imbibed will help us a lot. He was reported to have chastised agents of religious sectarianism, noting that God knows why we are of diverse religious groups. He said God would have made all human beings to belong to one religion if He so wished, therefore there is no point stereotyping and segregating people on the basis of faith.

Keana, a political scientist, wrote from Ungwan Rimi, Kaduna