Aduke Ekundayo. PhD

Department of History and Diplomacy

Niger Delta University, Amassoma.


Oshadare, Olabode Timothy, PhD

Department of History,

Nigerian Army University



Very few attempts have been made by historians to study the history of the peoples commonly found at the southwards portion of the Niger – Benue confluence region. The probable reason for this neglect includes their small population status in the Nigeria polity. Another factor is their lamentable situation of being outside the core confines of powerful states in the Niger-Delta region like the Ijaw, Itsekiri, Urhobo etc, which provided attractive land marks to students of history. As a result, the people that fall into this category like the Ibaji people who are the focus of this paper, are erroneously referred to as ‘mini states’ or ‘stateless’ societies, because among other reasons, they lack a centralized system of government and are thus neglected. It is against this that, Late Professor K.O. Dike advised that “… fervent efforts should be made to redress the situation by paying assertive attention and efforts to studying the areas considered as ‘mini’ or ‘stateless’ societies” which Ibaji land of Kogi State belonged. This paper therefore, brings to the fore the history of a riverine people (Ibaji) of Kogi State with specific focus on 2012 flooding and the challenges faced due to their location. This is done with the aim of providing an added knowledge about a people whose history has since been neglected. The methodology will be both primary and secondary sources, and will be descriptive and analytical.

Keyword: Riverine, flood, challenge, Ibaji, location.


Ibaji land lies south of Idah town in the Southernmost part of Kogi State. As a Local Government Area, it is strategically located bordering as many as three states; Delta in the South, Edo State and River Niger to the West, and in the East by Enugu and Anambra states. Ibaji is located in the Niger Valley with its Headquarters in the town of Onyedenga on the Niger River in the North West of the area at ‘6 53’ 00,” N 6 41’ 0 0’’ E’. That is, longitude 7° and 10° East of the Greenwich Meridian, and Latitude 6° and 8° North of the Equator (Wikipedia). It covers an area of about 1,377 Km2 and the 2006 population census gave her population as: 127,572 people. (National Population Commission of Nigeria Web). About 57 towns and villages make up Ibaji. These settlements are mostly in low land with abundant of streams, ponds and lakes all over the places. Ibaji has 10 political wards, and major towns include Ideka, Iyano, Onyedenga, Ayah, Unale amongst others (Joseph, 2020). In the eastern part of Ibaji are lakes such as Ibocho, Adun, Akpanyo, Abada, Ojila while in the Western part we have lake Ukpo, Ikako, Iyore, Oshimili and Ofe lakes (Egwemi, 1983). The people speak a dialect of the Igala language called Olu. This dialect differs a little from the Igala language, but they understand and speak Igala language fluently.

Migrations and Settlements Like other communities in Nigeria, a lot of controversies surround Ibaji history of origin. There are several schools of thoughts. The settlements which were said to be in three phases began with the hunters and farmers who came to the forest zone of the Ibaji in search of games and fertile land for cultivation. In the second phase which represents another school of thought are those who believed that the inhabitants of Ibaji land today are off-strings of the defeated Igala soldiers who fought the Igala – Benin War of 1515 – 1516.

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