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LAND: THE METAPHOR FOR A PEOPLE AND HER NATURAL RESOURCES.

LAND: THE METAPHOR FOR A PEOPLE AND HER NATURAL RESOURCES.
-Towards Refocusing Ebelle on Her Development Roadmap Strategies.
By
_Gabriel Akhabue Iruobe_
February, 2022.

A myopic and simplistic view of land would suggest that land is a mere natural resource abounding in a geographical confines which includes arable land for agriculture, land for housing, rivers, streams and lakes and the forest reserves. These days, this definition and description of land has become expanded to include ‘the people’ that dwell on the land itself, its cultures, affiliates and allies, its political influence and intellectual capacity. It is on this premise that I address the subject of ‘the land of Ebelle’; what it should mean. What about it? How to develop the ‘Land of Ebelle – at this juncture, the surface area of Ebelle as well as its people and culture, as we set our focus on setting up a developmental blueprint that should guide personal and community development.

I want to appeal first of all that this piece cannot be horridly covered. It is better that readers go through at a comfortable time so that it can be digested properly. The explanations are aimed at setting the tone for current debate about understanding the terrains of development discuss.

From the foregoing, it is clear that land has embraced and encompassed some other variables which hitherto were not considered to be part of it. That is, my attempt here is to extricate the definition of land from the economistic viewpoint – as the ground and all that is in it. But the economic perspective of land almost t it right considering the current analysis of land. It says, it is ALL resources on land. But how then did Economics not consider the humans living on land as part of land resources? Of course, it sees only from the ‘factors of production’ prism – Land, Labour, Capital and Entrepreneurship. This where a sociological analysis comes in – the issues of Human Capital Development.
The Economistic view does not seem to recognize the fact that the brain of a people can also be considered a land that needs to be exploited to get result from. Let’s go a step backward to begin again to unravel ‘the problematic’ of the land orthodoxy discuss and the current concern for Ebelle Development Roadmap or Blueprint.
It must be clear to most people now that the idea of a development of a land is multifaceted and multidirectional. Therefore, to think of a blueprint; for that blueprint to have a meaning, it must look in several directions. And for Ebelle that have had an overstay in the sector of the cottage industry, our roadmap must not continue in the direction of that ailing traditional business but to refocus it on industrialization where manufacturing form an upper consideration.
Even when we need to consider some of our traditional production techniques, the technology would need to be refined just like the manpower would need to embrace improved skills and adequate knowledge of inputs. The culture of staying put to unproductive techniques must be allowed its passage away from the community. At this age and time; a lot of our farmer still feel that fertilizer use is unhealthy while viewing producing yams that can be pocketed, ‘a normal and godly traditional agric practice’. Frustrated yet not relinquishing the obsolete order. They labour so much with nothing to show for their labour. Even our Agric graduates can’t provide any intervention because they too have learnt a technology that is too expensive for them to make good with. So they live away in the cities looking for office work and reading periodicals from International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and other house-roof farming taking place in China and Japan.
The fact remains that a blueprint that would be relevant must be multi directional and must be prioritized to allow for a Pareto Efficient allocation of resources that meets a utilitarian ideal. That is, we must choose, amongst several options, the ones that provides quicker ‘development’ for the greater number of people.
The appropriate development of the land of Ebelle therefore would include:
Infrastructural Development
Human Capital Development.
For most people, constructing a development roadmap begins and ends with infrastructural development. From this viewpoint, if Ebelle would get her infrastructure (road network, water supply, electricity, Health Care Delivery, Transportation, Commerce and Security) right, everything would be right. Therefore thoughts of a Development Blueprint must capture these indices of infrastructural ecstasy and Eldorado, they would emphasize. Only a few think that Human Capital Development should form part of that coveted roadmap drive.

Meanwhile, the reason for the infrastructural development of most cities is not necessarily the presence of an imposed infrastructure but the surge of professionals and educated elites that drive the economy. It is in meeting the needs of these elites that infrastructure grew. Some were provided by the government while others were done by individuals and cooperatives. Everything fell in place to meet the sensibilities of the elites who needed them for a more decent lifestyle based on the perceived disparity between what is expected by them from the government, their employer, and what they have on ground to live a comfortable life. Their pressure gave rise to the infrastructural response and answers to their quests.

The sentiment is a little different in the rural community where the people don’t even know what to do with modern amenities or infrastructure, just like the indigenous Ebelle people do not know what exactly to do with unmetered electricity supply, as they remain ever content with the shinning bulbs glowing through the nights and the blinding blazing sunlight. Hence, you find infrastructural underuse, misuse and abandonment.

I doff my cap for Chief Alex Adoghe who did not only move (second) the motion for Ebelle development roadmap, but had maintained his support for the Roadmap Retreat planned for the Admin and professionals whilst also making a critical intellectual contribution to the Roadmap thoughts. For him, savaging the commerce industry of Ebelle can cause a positive ripple effect on the entire community. He gave us insight on how this can be handled – by way of expanding the Ebelle market to include daily marketing activities. Very good and impressive. However, he appears to have assumed that the mere fact that a notable market has emerged from the plans, that our people will be key players in the envisioned market. For me, this won’t make Ebelle land (Land and People) get any richer. But should we expand the market like he suggests? Of course, we should. But we should take care of the more critical sector upon which the dividend of the market expansion can be realized – Human Capital Development.

Even in the mainstay of the Ebelle economy which is Farming, it is still largely not mechanized. This is not about machines as the use of fertilizers are also considered as mechanization. Improved seeds and seedlings are all part of the process of mechanization. The agro-knowledge base is still very weak and those who escape to the universities to study agric don’t come back to showcase what they have learnt. Thus, the thick darkness of ignorance exists in all the quarters, hence their productivity is still very low, and it is unlikely that commerce would fill this gap in production. How then can they compete with products from other communities and get money in return? But with good human capacity development and a culture of willingness to return to land after school, the farm produce market in Ebelle would blossom with an exponential increase and impressive sufficiency.
In measuring Ebelle’s development therefore, a primary consideration must be given to the question of how to develop the people themselves in terms of capacity to produce goods and services that is world class. Not to produce inferior goods that no body with the right mind would want to pay for nor consume.
For a long time, it was assumed that contributing towards development of a community is necessary connected with donations at fund raising forums on the soil of Ebelle or elsewhere. This view should be corrected. It is here to be emphatically stated that financial donations is only one aspect of an attempt to bring Ebelle out of oblivion or marginalization. There are a lot other things people are doing to rescue Ebelle land – land and people. Many are contributing towards human capital development, and this can stand for Ebelle’s development. Whether the good of society lands on actors within the system (people) or on a community geographic , it is curiously the same thing. This is the central thesis of these expressions or obsessions of mine.
Those who brought formal education to Ebelle are the very those who have calculatedly initiated the paradigm of development path Ebelle had treaded for ages. Apologists of this school of thought have also ensured it trended over time. These are the precursors to the human capital development in Ebelle culminating in resource expansion, wealth accumulation and diverse streams of community aesthetics or beauty. Thus, those who brought education are those who have developed Ebelle beyond any other means of development strategy that can be accounted for. In the same light, those parents who have painstakingly sent their children to school are those who have also simultaneously developed Ebelle as a consequence because of the ripple effect of such human capacities to produce ‘development’. Thus, it is not only those who have contributed financially to Ebelle’s pause that are actually proven Ebelle developers. Some persons who have prioritized the education of their children or wards have indisputably developed Ebelle in unfathomable and incalculable folds.
We may not have realized that the efforts of our patriachs in demanding education for our then Prince Joseph Madojemun (Now HRH Aikpaogie and successor to HRH Imadojemu) who was conscripted to be the Senior Prefect of Ebelle Secondary/Commercial School. It was a tall order for him. He was not allowed the option of remaining in the home without formal education. Thanks to those who did that. These are patriots that developed Ebelle and determined its reigns ab initio. That today, we can have a king that is bold enough to address the press at will is a fall out of that education. You may not understand that we are priviledged to have the educational input into him until you visit, probably the palace at Amahor where the means of communication is only Amahor language (sorry, Ebelle language, since the prince, now king of Amahor was raised in Ebelle). So then, our collective experiment worked. The efforts of our patriarchs and patriots was not about building a palace. We can think so now. And indeed, we have; and the result is satisfactory. Now again, the scholarship given to Prince Osifo Aikpaogie to read his Master’s degree is another outstanding feat, greater than the investment on palace building too. We are gradually setting the standard for our princes and princesses for a minimum of a Bachelors Degree. It is now that we are truly developing. This should be one of our roadmap norm. But I fear to look toward Ogwa and Igueben palaces and would rather cover my face with self-pity palms. I know we shall get there. Therefore, who will undermine educational development of a people starting from her palace? As pertaining to the prince, Ebelle must be ready to do more than just sending the prince to school. He should be given the opportunity to work in a formal work environment that should contribute to his experience of how to be under people. It is good he is made to serve so as to learn the rudiments of service. He should not be left alone to wade through the waters of life himself. He should be seen as Ebelle property and must be helped to glitter. We can’t be tired or educating our young ones, let alone, a prince. If the future of in the comity of communities is to be guaranteed, then our relentlessness but be thrive to blossom. This is a development roadmap. This is the development of the land of Ebelle. The prince is a land not to be allowed to fallow.
Those that have also empowered our people in any way; either by the facilitation of their admissions to higher institution or in being recruited into the civil service, military and paramilitary academies; or have helped them to travel out of the country for greener pastures, have by this token, developed Ebelle in no small measure. The consequence of such actions are in the aftermath. They often come back to the land with booties that wouldn’t have been. At any rate, the fine houses you find in Ebelle are not likely to have be come to be by earnings on Ebelle soil. They may be accounted for as dividend from migration activities from the land – emigrations. However, these Ebelle lovers, in this case, developers, thought of the land of Ebelle as people for whom they needed to spend and be spent. The commerce in Ebelle still appear too weak to provide succour for indigenous people who have too much inferior articles on display. The attraction to remain on the land is also bleak. No one want to stay where he cannot be productive for self and for family. So, a lot of emigrations are occurring in Ebelle leaving it nearly a ghost city due to the continuous exit youths seeking greener pastures. So, they go to get what to use to develop Ebelle outside of Ebelle.
When people speak of our sons and daughter doing great things for the land; or the people of Ebelle, they often forget that such good wouldn’t come had such persons not gone through the nurture of their parents that sponsored them irrespective of their debilitating and excruciating poverty. We eulogize the feats and contributions of persons like Hon. Dr. Eromosele Idahosa who is a prototype of a patriotic and service oriented fellow; the doggedness and patriotism of Dr. Alex Izinyon; the long time social and political juggernaut and Ebelle’s walking dictionary, Hon. Chief Matthew Agwinede; and the current Omigie’s transformative mystic; which have come by only by the help of the persons that brought these personalities to limelight. The benefactors patriarchs invested in people; only in the name of investing on the land and the consideration for its multiplier effect. Thus, these persons, in all ramifications, are the de facto developers of the land of Ebelle. Today the spatial land or the Ebelle geographic had, as a consequence, also received the baptism and seed of development sown into the memories of these figures producing and bearing fruit of development. Those parents who rushed into investment in buildings and shirked the training of their children are the very ones whose buildings have become obsolete. The trained sons and daughter now turn back to erect Country Homes to the admiration, or jealousy, of the erstwhile community first-class landlords. The first have become the last while the last, the first. It was thought that by virtue of the gigantic buildings they possessed, they were at the forefront of the development of Ebelle. But shortly thereafter, the same scoffers bite their fingers and regret the unfortunate choices made in time past that clearly marked them out as short-sighted developers.
Land development is in kind. One concerns the geographic while the other concern the personas. One is spatial; the other is human. What would you rather invest in; the surface area of Ebelle or the intellectual development of the people? For me, let’s have both.
At this juncture in our appraisals of our hitherto developmental walk, we must begin to applaud the path our ancestors treaded after the shameful encounter with the colonial masters where they saw that education was more important than physical strength. They vowed to send their children to school amid poverty, with the aim or hope that their children would be better remunerated and respected. They got it right. Our people saw the light from that beginning and so, they prioritised education such that; implicit in the heart of every father and mother in Ebelle land ( and indeed, all Esans) was, a compulsory education for all children, even though the extent one should go to get to the status so desired was never contemplated nor fully understood. At a time, a primary six graduate was considered educated enough. Later, the bar was raised to college graduates; and later to higher institution graduates. The reality today is that the bar is continually being raised. Graduation from the university is losing its shine too; it is no longer a big time celebration. It is in keeping with the challenges of the times; for we cannot remain at the bottom of intellectual rungs and expect to compete favourable with those that are born with the silver spoon of formal life living proximate to the universities and having professors and doctors as next door neighbours.
People-centred governments have also expressed the desirability of a society that is well nurtured in the fabrics of intellectual heritage. Western Nigeria as a prototype of this focus show already what educational advancement can bring to a people. It is greater than building bridges and flyovers. It is better than building cinema houses and parks. It is the focus on the ‘factories that make the man an intelligent man’ than the ones that produce detergents to wash our clothes. All indices of development are good but we must guard jealously that we remain with the best forms of all developmental strategies. Our ancestors prioritize education; that is the reason we can boast of a few professors and doctors and other professionals today. Apart from having them as role models, they have served as influencers in the aspect of human content development. It is good that goods increase in Ebelle; but it is better that professionals are on the increase. Not all will be doctors or professors, but all can be pruned and skilful enough in their careers and product creation enterprises knowing fully well that our competitiveness is what is important in the harnessing of the wealth for higher standard of living. Thus, a society’s infrastructural accumulation notwithstanding, the absence of a decent and congenial lifestyle realization from the aggregations is worthless and banal. Therefore, we must begin to encourage the educated to be courageous enough to take risks that bring out their worth in the market place. Not in the risk of the aberrations that now permeates social life where every youth is crazily in the pursuit of wealth without conscience and the depraved drives for overnight riches – the tragedy of the ‘hammar’ philosophy.
Some societies are considered developed today; not because of their road network or bridges but by the humanistic net-worth; measured objectively by the standard of living and educational attainment of its citizenry. It is no longer a function of how much bricks and mortals are in place but about how many professionals, technocrats , technicians and technologists, they can boast of. The intellectual threshold; not the accumulated surpluses of goods is the definer of development. A developmental roadmap therefore is one which considers the process that can give rise to the influx of these skilled professionals and craftsmen besides infrastructural blisses.
We then must eulogize our predecessors who saw into the future, denied themselves of tall houses and lofty lifestyles to give unto us a befitting education they themselves didn’t have. They felt the humiliation of the past in which their physical strength came second to their intellectual strength when they negotiated their remunerations from the colonial masters. They knew they were not stupid but were treated as such, only for the deficit in their reading and writing abilities. They therefore vowed in their deprived state to bequeath to their children what disqualified them in the market places. They were the real heroes and heroines to be celebrated and honoured; not the beneficiaries of their sacrifices for the people who now enjoy the aura of a ‘been to’. You got to where you got, because you leaned on someone-else’s efforts or rode on someone-else’s ass.
It should be re-echoed that, as personal roadmap to Ebelle’s development drive, our ancestors and progenitors were up and doing with the insight to sponsor their children through school for which many have been redeemed from the dungeons of social and economic annihilation. That value placed on education had since existed and fortified, until now when the upsurge of Yahoo Boys and their ignoble exploits present school as scam. Only time will show who is right. And instead of youths increasing their capacities and competitiveness in a wide range of industrial activities, they are increasing capacity to defraud innocent people. To this end, many are now avoiding legitimate businesses considered by them as go-slow-career and embracing digitized corruption and the ‘hammer’ initiatives. A worthy Human Resource development of a people cannot accept callousness as one of its guiding principles of development. It is the ability to dignify true labour that a roadmap must rest on. Our strategy must include how to arrest the greed in the new generation of youths and dissuade them from these beguiling and corruptive tendencies of mammon worship. Developing the human capacities in youths must include the development of their affective, sensitive and moral considerations for others. Character building must coincide with infrastructural accumulation.
Some of Ebelle patriarchs were very patriotic in their dealings and idea of development roadmap which they pursued vigorously. Those of them who gained ascendancy into positions of authority had always projected the values of ‘people as a worthy development sectors’ and rendered unflinching support to Ebelle youths primarily with a projection of Ebelle’s development in mind. The drive and obsession was beyond the gains of the individuals seeking the direct help but in the ripple effect that such help had the potential to give to and entire Ebelle land – people and space. The culture of ‘brotherliness’ of collectivism may have changed over time as people imbibe the alien capitalist culture of individualism, yet those that enjoyed the dividend of the largely communalistic approach to development can’t deny the backs they rode on to relevance. The refusal to toe the paths of affective responsibilities towards their weak brothers is itself a self-destructive move having no future in this world or in the one to come. No wonder, those that refused to influence their brothers into the offices they once occupied with untold privileges have no body to call in their moments of the slippery and sliding paths of life. They often fall to the ground wholly without support, and thoroughly broken. But those who had a responsible development roadmap in mind risked their position to reposition their ‘brothers’ because of the ripple effects it brings the entire land. And in no distance, time have made such successors of predecessors magnanimity. These are the Ebelle developers whose deeds are often not amplified or recognized in the palace or elsewhere. These are those who appeal to their own consciences for endorsement or condemnations. Thus, developing Ebelle does not end in the volume of cash donations. The acts of the Omigies drive home this point. Some persons also ensured that Ebelle got a Magistrate Court as a condition or stimulant and attraction for bigger businesses like the Commercial Banks and Multinational Companies. In the past too, some persons worked night and day to ensure that Ebelle was into the electricity grid, supervising the transportation of the first transformers to the land in open trucks sitting side-by-side the transformer. Most are not rewarded or awarded any title; yet they don’t relent. Only God knows how many letters Hon. Chief Agwinede could have written on behalf of Ebelle or for Ebelle persons, in his life time; a repertoire of Ebelle history ; or the deeds of Dr. Eromosele Idahosa for Ebelle and her people. Selflessness was/is their watchword. When they did all these things, they were ipso facto, contributing their manpower quota to the development of Ebelle land in varied formats. Thus, whether your investment in Ebelle is that of errand or the donations you made or the influence you had for Ebelle to be spotted in the comity of communities or the ideas you have espoused; you have directly or indirectly developed the land of Ebelle.

We can take the argument further to say that if you have substantially developed yourself and your career, you have indirectly developed the land of Ebelle. As resources land on your desk as a result of personal development; since it has a way of robbing off on your family, the extended and the clan, it can be seen as the development of patrimony, for which others have their stakes in and would enjoy unhindered. In other words, individuals given birth to by Ebelle progenitors are themselves a prototype of the land of Ebelle. In the same vein, children born by Ebelle people anywhere in the world (Diaspora Ebellians) are themselves the land of Ebelle. Their homes in foreign lands are themselves, Ebelle home; hence, Ebelle lands.
Therefore, Ebelle land should not be viewed from the geographic only. We must extend the argument to involve the people themselves, males or females. As such, if I ask you to give me a job that is very rewarding, I am tactically saying give Ebelle land a job to perform. Thus, as ambassadors of Ebelle, we carry, not only our individual labels and identity but the collective label of a people united in one cause – the development of our fatherland. A place to transmit the goodies of the now to future generations.

Land therefore represents the geographic as well as the multiplicity of sensible humans who can love and defend an ancestry. It is only by the existence or emergence of infrastructural aggregations and proper use, competencies and profitability in use, as well as the mindset of a jealous and protective use of resources for self-development, that a people can boast of true community development. Thus, a development roadmap must incorporate the idea of spatial land development and people’s capacity development.
Ebelle Ogha-Mhen! Iseeee!

About Gabriel Iruobe

I have a background in Sociology from the University of Ibadan. Although, an industrial sociologist, my interest in rural societies have grown over the years. The sociological insight gained in my school days have had me define development in a fashion slightly different from an orthodox orientation. Studying or researching on rural life is quite easy for me since I spent my early life in a rural setting, viewing all the attractions often overlooked by the urban elites. If the rule of sustainable development is to be followed, no aspect of the world's cultural heritage is to be ignore or neglected. This is my obsession.

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