Photo Grid of Late Homun Stephen Irmiya
COL. STEPHEN IRMIYA…
… then came a soldier
Full of strange oaths
Bearded like a leopard
Jealous in honour
Quick in quarrel
(but more in command)
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in cannon’s mouth…
LAST STEPS OF AN ENDURING MONARCH…
It was exactly 1: 45 pm on the 23rd June 2020, Homun Stephen Irmiya, Kwire Mana Kpafrato 11 stepped into the Banquet Hall of Adamawa state Government House for a Joint Border Security meeting between Adamawa and Taraba states. He was 15 minutes ahead of the protocol time scheduled for 2: 00 pm. His Majesty was Putting on an immaculate white royal gown with dazzling patches of silver beads and repeated briefs of golden linings watermarking the emblems of the Bachama traditional council’s coat of arms. Badges of the coat of arms made up of crossed spears and elephant tusks visibly cladded the traditional armour of the insignia. His crown called palwalato equally glaring and distinct in the gear of hanging feathers resting on the line up of silver and gold pellets. His smiling and amiable face were readily fixed with gold-plated-rimmed dark glasses that typified his appearance. The shoes were also white with spots of silver beads matching the deliberate glamour of his designer’s touch. His steps to his chair while holding and occasionally wangling his symbol of authority, occasionally hanging it on his shoulder was glamorous, bold and brilliant as he patiently waited for the next protocol briefing.
The few minutes of waiting were repeatedly noticed by flashlights of camera shots. That was how majestic he was. The programme ended after he delivered the closing remarks on behalf of Adamawa Council of Traditional Rulers. His message was brief on point calling for a peaceful coexistence of border communities of Adamawa and Taraba States. It was his last official outing.
IN SUCH FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
On Thursday the 25th June 2020, His Majesty called and reminded me of the materials I promised to deliver to him on social justice…titled, ‘Pursuing Justice in a Sinful world’. After checking through my study and couldn’t trace the material, I brought an alternative book, Why Nations Fail: The Origin of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson…Collecting the book I thought was new him, proved me wrong. I was rather startled as he discussed aspects of the same book he had reviewed while putting on an assignment related to his on-going PhD programme in Criminal Justice. His recollection of the contents was remarkable with citations almost verbatim from the back-page commentary on how development could differ even when communities share an ethnic background, a geographical location and a climate. He was particular about the new theory that the authors uphold. With precise eloquence he recited his favourite lines of the book that says: to prosper, citizens need inclusive institutions which create virtuous circles of innovation, economic expansion and more widely-held wealth. As we discussed other issues, His Majesty underscored the issues of contextualizing development to the traditional space, where the role of monarchs is relegated to reservation of culture, ceremonies and oftentimes taking blames for a breakdown of law and order in their domains.
For three hours of our discussion, he insisted on hearing my points of argument on his take on issues of innovation, enlightenment and mobilization of both human and materials resources n Bachama kingdom. Sincerely, I was privileged to be that close to him. Then he suddenly itemized his plan for the new Bwara (Bachama Kingdom) not without a litany of frustration he had encountered in the past eight years... youth restiveness, unemployment, cattle rustling, clashes and counter clashes of farmers and grazers in the kingdom. Not for the first time though, he punctuated his disappointments with the hope that things will be better if only inclusive institutions and structures will be ‘timely in redeeming needs of the hour’, his words precisely. He was sincerely emphatic on the need to improve education…reconstruction of destroyed school infrastructure by invading herders, engagement of youth of the kingdom in skills acquisition and deliberate promotion of farming and agricultural development in the area. In addition to that he asked me to work out a feasibility for the establishment of a community-based communication centre with the potential having radio and TV stations. He finally commended the state government for setting a technical committee on the security situation in Numan Federation in which four of us…Arch. Lawrence Ngbale, Barr. Chief L. D. Nzadon, Chief Justine Mafiri, the District Head of Dong and myself from the Bwatiye were part of. His majesty Kwire Mana’s mind was surely on the need for peace without which there cannot be development. That he told me.
REST ON HIS MAJESTY
Then came the sad news…26 the June 2020 and the kingdom locked in the sorrow of His majesty’s demise. In the kingdom, it is an end of another kingship calendar…a moment of grief, panic and transition of a mortal and king to be immortalized as the newest ‘god in the line up of other kings before him.
To me as his faithful servant, the loss is a sting, painfully and hurting. It is going to be a harrowing moment of recollecting the hopes expressed and the dreams dashed; fear enclosed and the gap to be filled. Col. Stephen Irmiya, Kwire Mana, Kpafrato 11, Gbulum Bomo… your strides, Brilliance, affability, sincerity, generosity, patriotism and commitment to justice are bold steps and pillars for the Bwatiye race and Nigeria at large to build on.
Thanks for being around. You have made a difference…piya ka bwato…REST IN PEACE.
Hon. John Ngamsa, Ph.D.