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30 Years On: Who Is Late Pa Buturo Peter Ajijie?

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the passing of Buturo Peter Muan Abue, the life and times of Buturo Abue have become a pivotal point to the discussion of Mbube nation viz a viz Ogoja in the current Cross River State. I encourage every Cross Riverian to study and join in celebrating this pace setter and sage of his time.

If we must be great as a nation and a people we must acknowledge, celebrate and appreciate greatness.It is line with this notion that we are celebrating the life and legacies of Buturo Peter Muan Abue as the Mbube Nation celebrates her New YamFestival.

The program of event/celebration spans from the 24th to 26th of August, 2017 at Idum and Egbe in Mbube, Ogoja Local Government Area.

Birth and Early Life

Peter Ajijie Muan-Abue who was later known as Buturo P. M. Abue (MON, KSM) was born on Thursday the 18th of April 1918 to the family of Abue Ishang and Onyiangbe Ajijie both of Idum Mbube Ogoja. At the time of his birth records were hardly kept, but he was later able to trace his birth date from the early missionaries due to his closeness to them added with his doggedness and propensity for accurate record keeping.

His birth as the first son of his parents signaled  a new hope for the young family as was customary in those days and he was consequently raised with the intention of being trained in one of the typical domestic careers such as farming, palm wine tapping or hunting . As faith would have it, Ajijie Abue would later grow up as a gentle young man who distinguished himself among his peers by exhibiting the qualities of wisdom, kindness, orderliness and a sense of justice and fairness to all.

He had great love for education but as he could not get it from his parents, he had to wait to travel out to seek for the golden fleece himself. His father Abue Ishang was among the immigrants from the Royal Ayake family of Ogberia Otchuro in the present Ogberia Clan. Abue Ishang came to Ketuen (conglomerative name representing Idum, Ekumtak and Odajie) as a result of the misfortune he suffered during a communal hunting expedition in the late 19th Century.

It is believed that Abue Ishang was not the only hunting warrior that migrated to Ketuen. Other members of the Ayake family such as Emang Kenjour also migrated to Ekumtak clan and later established at Owarakende village producing descendants such as Odey Emang.  Migration of families in those days to and from Mbube was a common phenomenon as the inhabitants few as they were, saw themselves as one kit and kin.

It is believed that with Abue Ishang’s migration from Ogberia Otchuro to Ketuen began the union of families within Mbube land leading to the now existing unity of Eastern and Western Mbube in spite of language barrier.
Abue Ishang settled with his kits and kin the late Ejue Zameh, the renowned warrior, Odue Nyichi and Abuo Nyichi at the present Bansara Village location where they were strategically positioned to ward-off attacks from Boki warriors.

The migration of Abue Ishang in the late 19th century from Ogberia Otchuro to Idum was indeed a divine providence as it served to seal the communities of Mbube into one homogenous entity called and known today as MBE and built a bridge of unity between them.

 Today the people of Ogberia Ogang, Ogberia Otcuro, Ojerim, Nkim, Oboso, Aragban , Benkpe, Edide, Egbe, Ekumtak, Idum and Odajie are proud to call themselves ONE homogenous MBUBE entity due to the migrations and intermarriages that took place in the early 19th and 20th centuries. What was even more profound was that such migrations were interchangeable and settlements were always with kits and kin known to be related by blood.


Since intermarriages were also common in those days, Abue Ishang Married Onyiangbe Ajijie and gave birth to six children namely: Zake Onyiange (later baptized Maria),  Ajijie Abue (Peter), Nzung Abue (Theresa),   Ebebe Abue (James)  and Eyuung Abue (Marcelina).

 The children’s upbringing was transferred to their mother and surrogate parents earlier mentioned.  Ajijie Abue particularly showed signs of growth even as a young child.  He was smart and very intelligent. His other siblings took to teaching, farming and petty trading. Abue Ishang, although a disciplinarian, did not live long to raise his family as he died early in the 20th century when the young  Ajijie with his brother and sisters were still young. It was obvious then that the task of raising the family was left to their mother  Onyiangbe Ajijie and his first son Ajijie who helped his mother to fulfill this task.

 This was the first test of manhood for the young Ajijie Abue and he did it perfectly well as all the children grew up healthy and lived in unity till ripe old age.  Ajijie Abue together with his brother and sisters lived and grew up with his parents and the extended family members in one large compound.

Early Education

The young Ajijie Abue started his early education in St. Columba’s Primary School Idum Mbube from 1926 to 1930 and later on completed his primary education at St. Patrick’s School Kakwagom Boki Local Government Area in 1931.

 This was due to the fact that the Standard six class had not been attained at St. Columba Primary School then.  Ajijie Abue became amongst the first Mbube indigenes to obtain the First School Leaving Certificate (Standard six) in 1933.

As fate would have it, the young Ajijie Abue’s intelligence and the obedience he exhibited attracted the fancy of the police team from Enugu which was regularly sent to investigate the activities of Ejue Zameh and others who were accused of involvement in a clash with the Bokis in their farms.

His early education in St. Columba’s Primary School Idum Mbube which he  later completed  at St. Patrick’s School Kakwagom Boki  in 1931 led him to be  amongst the first Mbube indigenes to obtain the First School Leaving Certificate (Standard six) in 1933.

 Because of his intelligence and obedience he attracted the fancy of the police team from Enugu who came to visit the village to investigate a case. It was then that it was unanimously agreed by his family that he should be taken to Enugu for better upbringing, where he continued his education at the famous St Patrick’s College where he acquired more knowledge in Education from 1931 to 1935.

In his short sojourn in Enugu, the young Ajijie Abue developed both physically and mentally. He gained much knowledge and was very fluent in Igbo Language. Eager to return home and meet his people, the young Peter was released to return to Mbube in1937.
As the saying goes, a chick that is destined to grow into a cock starts showing those qualities from birth. So it was with the young Ajijie Abue. The Head of the Police team thereafter made a formal request to the boys surrogate father to let him take Peter to Enugu for upbringing.

The family asked for time to consult. After consultation with all members of the family, it was agreed that the boy should be released to him. So in their subsequent visit the police man was informed that his request about the young Ajijie was granted.

The Police Officer and trader took the young Ajijie Abue to Enugu in 1931 and enrolled the boy in St. Patrick’s college Enugu where he acquired more knowledge in Education from 1931 to 1935. In his sojourn in Enugu, the young Ajijie developed both physically and mentally.

 He gained much knowledge and was very fluent in Igbo Language. Eager to return home and meet his people, the young Peter returned to Mbube in1937. On his return he took over the role of Catechist from his Catholic brother and colleague the Late Dermot Odu in 1937 who had  resigned to take over a new job as a dispensary attendant. As a young school master and catechist, Peter Ajijie Abue sought in toil the welfare of his community and improvement in the living condition of his people.

These objectives remained paramount in his mind in all his struggles and representations.

The Young Councilor
Peter Ajijie Abue  was councilor for Ogoja Native authority,  1946-1950,
Traditional member Ogoja Divisional County Council  from 1950 to 1952.
Vice Chairman Ogoja County Council from 1952-1957.
Member, Working Committee for Ogoja from 1952 to 1962.
Member, Common Wealth Association in the then Eastern Region  in 1952.
Chairman, Mbube Local Council from 1957 to 1959.
Member Provisional Assembly 1961 – 66 and
President Appeal Court Ogoja Division from 1960-1961.

As President of Magistrate Appeal court, he uplifted the status of court bailiffs, registers and other official of the court. His role was so appreciated that the court officials then  led by J.M Jobo who was the minister of home affairs in the then Eastern region decided to organize a party in Enugu on his behalf.

As earlier hinted and in accordance with oral tradition, Butro Abue’s biological father Abue Ishang,  truly a descendant of the royal Ayake family of Ogberia Ochoro had his royal blood re-invigorated by the fact that he married young Elejie Clara Ejue  who was herself a descendant of the  royal family of Ejue Nguen in Idum Mbube.  The royalty of the young Peter Ajijie Muan Abue was never in doubt, even though he never laid claims to it.

 His massive contributions to the Church and his level of civilization equipped him to live and to excel in statesmanship.  As a Councilor and later Clan head,  he never rested as people often trooped into his palace to seek one thing or the other.  His compound became a beehive of activities and yet he was equal to the task. His efforts did not go unnoticed.  His leadership, achievements and commitment to the wellbeing of his people paid off.

Traditional Ruler
In 1956, the chiefs of Mbube unanimously crowned him “Buturo  Mbe” in his compound in Idum Mbube. The die was cast. Having been crowned Buturo Mbe, with speed he was picked from among the chiefs of Mbube by the Colonial authority under the indirect rule system and made the warrant chief. He later Clan head of the whole Mbube in 1958, a position he held siuccesfully from till death.  He was furter elevated as the monarch representing Ogoja (which included Yala, Boki, Bekwerra and Ogoja) in the Eastern House Chief in Enugu 1961-1966). He became Paramount Ruler of Ogoja in 1976 after the creation of Cross River State. He was Chairman, Traditional Rulers Council for Ogoja LGA from 1976 to  1986. Member CRS Traditional Rulers Council.

These singular events set the pace for the growth and development of Mbube and revealed the fact that coronation as chief does not go without antecedents. Anyone favored with reward of leadership should be able to turn around and point out his merits.  Butro Peter Ajijie Muan Abue merited this reward at the time it took place.  We have to celebrate him especially the fact that the seeds he sowed are still growing on.

 Later on in 1958, the then colonial administration accorded him recognition as Clan Head of Mbube.  Butro Peter Muan Abue therefore, became a first class chief in Ogoja and the No 1 citizen of Mbube. He became the Clan Head of Mbube Par Excellence in the comity of Clan Heads in Ogoja Province.  His wisdom and influence spread like wild fire in the realm. In 1961 shortly after independence, the Eastern Region House of Chiefs was created by the Federal Government to be at par with the Western and Northern Regions.

 It comprised of five south East States, namely, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Imo and Abia states and the 6 South South States of Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states.
Chiefs from the different Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the 11 States were needed to form the pioneer members of the Eastern House of Chiefs.  In a keenly contested election, Buturo  Abue emerged the winner ahead of all his colleagues in the old Ogoja County Council which then comprised of Ogoja, Boki, Yala and Bekwarra to pick the sole ticket of the Royal Monarch.  He therefore, became a member in the Eastern House of Chiefs in Enugu in 1961 representing Ogoja County Council.  Enugu was the then capital of the Eastern Region.

This glamourous victory for Buturo Abue came with enormous powers, privileges and responsibilities which he shouldered from 1961-1967.  As Clan Head of Mbube and the Royal Monarch representing his people in the Eastern House of Chiefs, it became obvious that the mantle of leadership as Paramount Ruler and Chairman Ogoja Traditional Rulers Council fell on him. He therefore, became the first Paramount Ruler and first Chairman Ogoja Traditional Rulers Council in the new era.

 In his new robes, Butro Abue used the positions to put Ogoja Local Government properly in the map of Cross River State and Nigeria.  He indeed, charted the course for steady and continual progress in the area.  Throughout the period of his reign he commanded respect and honour as a Traditional Ruler whose majesty, splendor and pre-eminence singled him out as a distinguished gentleman.

He was ipso facto admitted into the Cross River State Traditional Rulers’ council where he rose to be its Chairman. As a member of this epic Council of the State, he represented the Old Ogoja  LGA made up Ogoja, Bekwerra, Yala and Ukelle. During his reign, he fought for the recognition and certification of traditional chiefs in his constituency.

 Butro Abue was one of the forerunners for the creation of the present Cross River State as we know it today.  Not a man to crave after his selfish interests, Buturo Abue insisted during his time for the creation of more LGAs out of his Ogoja LGA . Thus the creation of Bekwarra, and Yala  LGAs became a reality and his dream projects. As one of the most influential traditional rulers in the state, he made sure that the then Heads of States Alhaji Sheu Shagari and Muhammadu Buhari who visited Cross River State also visited his own LGA of Ogoja.

He was always chosen to lead the delegation of Cross River state chiefs at the national level.  He was among the traditional rulers who represented the State in a condolence visit to the then Head of State General Olusegun Obasanjo on the death of his predecessor. He also represented the state in a meeting of traditional Rulers with the late General Murtala Mohammed in Lagos before the transition from Military to Civilian Administration in September 1979.

All the Heads of State that ever ruled Nigeria during his reign as Clan Head Paramount Ruler knew him personally and always paid him courtesy calls whenever they visited Ogoja land beginning from Mr.  Michael Okpara the first Premier of the entire Eastern Region to the then Head of State of Nigeria General Muhammadu Buhari. As earlier said, in 1976 he was among the six traditional Rulers from the South South geo-political zone who visited the then Head of State General Olusegun Obasanjo to condole with him over the death of General Murtala Mohammed.

 In recognition of his selfless service to humanity and enormous contribution to Agricultural development in Nigeria, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Alhaji Shehu Shagari decorated  Butro Abue with “Member Order of the Niger” (MON) award naming him “A Renown Farmer”. This decoration was nationally televised  in an unprecedented ceremony held in the National Theater Iganmu-Lagos and attended by eminent international and national figures.

Later he was visited by President Alhaji Shehu Shagari when he came to Ogoja land. In his maiden visit to Ogoja the then Head of State Major General Muhammadu Buhari was presented with a Hoe ; the traditional mark of Ogoja land as agrarian people by Butro Abue after the former paid him a courtesy call in his palace.

A summary of his major landmarks in Life are as follows:
• Councilor for Ogoja Native authority,  1946-1950
• Member, Eastern Working Committee for Ogoja  from 1952 to 1962.
• Vice Chairman Ogoja County Council from 1952-1957.
• Member, Commonwealth Association in the then Eastern Region  in 1952.
• Attended community Development course in Awgu  from 1953-1956
• Crowned “Buturo Mbe” in 1956
• Chairman, Mbube Local Council from 1957 to 1959.
• Clan Head of Mbube from 1958 to 1987
• Traditional member Ogoja Divisional County Council  from 1961 to 1962
• Member Provisional Assembly from 1961 – 66
• President Appeal Court Ogoja Division from 1960-1961.
• Member, Eastern House of Chief for Ogoja from 1961 – 1966.
• President, Ogoja Farmers Association from 1969-1986
• Member, Inter-state Local Peace Committee from 1978 to 1980
• Took to Sacramental marriage in 1944
• Catechist and School Master,  1937 to 1951
• Vice-Chairman of Parish Pastoral Council /Local interpreter,  1944-1987
• Pilgrimage to Rome, Lourdes (1975), Jerusalem, Yugoslavia  (1980)
• Imitated Knight of St Mulumba (KSM) 1978
• Member, Board of Directors St Thomas College, Igoli-Ogoja  from 1956-1959.
• Chairman, Parents/Teaches Association, Ntol Comprehensive Sec. School, Ndok-Ogoja  1979-1980
• Chairman, Parents Teaches Association, Mbube West Sec. School, Ekumtak- Mbube  1980-1983
• Chairman, Parents Teaches Association, Mbube East Sec. School, Oboso –Mbube 1983-1985
• Paramount Ruler of Ogoja  from  1976 to 1987
• Chairman, Traditional Rulers Council for Ogoja  LGA from 1976 to  1986.
• Member CRs Traditional Rulers Council 1976 to 1987

HIS PHILOSOPHY

Butro Peter Abue was a man of the community who lived and died believing in the one great conviction that “God’s time is the best”. He proved this by giving a selfless service to his immediate Family, Community, Clan, Local Government Area, State, the Nation , the Church and Society in general. In his selfless effort to work for improvement of humanity, he showed less concern for his own comfort. “The Lord blesses us in his own way and when he wills, so there is no much cause for worry” he always said. He gave but never remembered what and when he gave. Throughout his political life he was guided by a great sense of fairness to all – a sense that only a few possess. He believed that politics was a game which should be played as much as possible fair and clean. “The better fighter should win” he would say. His was also a principled believer of politics without bitterness. He could be shrewd, calculated and foreseeing but above all he had the great gift of having fast and deep perception into the sayings and deeds of men. He always had ready replies, reactions and expressions to suit the various situations that arose before him.

Buturo Abue’s communitarian philosophy can be explained by the two great sets of values he esteemed;  Institutional values and Behavioral values. He was a man who believed that for society to progress individuals must learn to sacrifice themselves by extolling key institutions and behaviors.  His philosophy of life could be summed up in the following 10 principles:. The first five connect individuals to key basic institutions without which society cannot function properly, while the last five connect individuals to their neighbors and how individuals should love and respect their fellow human beings. Buturo Abue respected these institutions and behaviors to the letter and lived to preserve them.

The five first institutions to be esteemed are in their order of importance: The immediate community, the land, the School, the Church,  and the family in that order of importance. The next five principles connect individuals to their neighbors and are named here again in order of their importance: Respect for elders, exhibition of “tough love”, non-violence practices, charity towards all and abstinence from harmful ingredients.

See you at the celebrations!
Opinion 8226120908962937764

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