This year’s Nupe Day, which started with a special lecture at the IBB University, Lapai, Niger State, though low-keyed, was worth celebrating. Its grand finale was the turbaning of some distinguished sons and daughters of Nupe Kingdom by the Estu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar CFR.
Speakers at the lecture lamented that the culture of honesty and kindness in Nupe kingdom was fast drifting. They also advocated that communal living, which was the stronghold of unity for the people, must be upheld.
The Estu Nupe also used the occasion to inaugurate trustees for the Nupe Foundation. They were charged with the responsibility to encourage education for the indigent people in Nupe kingdom. This stemmed from the observation by several speakers at the celebration that Nupe remained the cradle of the nation’s unity and education, and must therefore, be in the front burner of academic activities.
Inaugurating the 96-member team, Etsu Abubakar said the move was to ensure that education is promoted in Nupe Kingdom considering the recent mass failure in examinations, especially at the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination.
According to him, the need for a scholarship scheme was further informed by the fact that education was going down in the kingdom and the younger ones needed economic support to be able to achieve their desired educational goals.
He, therefore, handed down seven terms of reference to the committee, which primarily include, mobilising resources that will help to sustain the scholarship scheme of the Nupe Foundation.
He said the committee was also expected to work out modalities for the scheme and report back to the Traditional Council within six months. This is to fashion out the way forward for the scheme to achieve her desired objectives of promoting education.
The royal father also used the occasion to turban three eminent persons of the Nupe kingdom. Those so honoured were the political adviser to Governor Babangida Aliyu, Mohammed Dabban, who was turbaned as Sarikin Baki Nupe, Hajiya Maryam Ladidi Mohammad as Wokiliyan Mata Nupe and Comfort Kachi as Jakadiya Raba Nupe.
He also used the occasion to pray for the growth and development of Nigeria, while emphasising the need for a peaceful co-existence among his subjects and all Nigerians. He commended the Niger State government for its support to the Nupe Day celebration.
The Etsu also prayed for the progress of traditional title holders in the kingdom so that they would continue to contribute to the development of the society.
Speaking, Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State also commended the foresight of the Estu Nupe who instituted the Nupe Day celebration, which he said would go a long way to unite all Nupe people, as well as promote unity, peace and progress in the area.
He said, “Let me say how glad I feel to be invited again to an occasion of this nature, which has become symbolic of the unifying leadership qualities of our highly respected royal father, the Estu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar.
“I believe that your wisdom to organise this event will go a long way in promoting unity, peace, harmony and development, not only in Nupe land but in the nation as a whole. I, therefore, congratulate you on this occasion, for your vision, foresight and determination to unite the Nupe and position them on the path of development and transformation.”
The governor added that Nupe people were accommodating, as they usually welcome visitors without sentiment.
Aliyu also shared the view that the Nupe are a symbol of unity in Nigeria, especially given their location and cultural disposition in the country today.
He said that love had always been the nucleus of Nupe culture, adding that such an occasion should be encouraged for humanitarian considerations.
Delivering the keynote address, a lecturer in the Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr Idris Shaaba Jimada said the industrious nature of the people had made them unique, adding that Nupe land has remained a binding force between the South and North. He also said that people of the Nupe kingdom were known for bravery, and recounted how they confronted the British colonial army.
“Nupe people were probably among the few African groups to humiliate and defeat the British army; and because of this they were seen as the prime obstacle to its imperial domination of the Niger area,” he recalled. He added that beyond bravery, the people are well known for craft and technology.
Indeed, the celebration was another opportunity to showcase the people’s rich culture and other values.