URHOBO TODAY URHOBO TOMORROW – Rev Francis Waive
Now that the 2015 elections have been contested and won, there is a crucial need to review the place of the Urhobo nation with a view to proactively plan our tomorrow. It is common knowledge that he who fails to plan, plans to fail. Permit me to say that I had mentioned to Prof Onige Otite during our trip from Abuja during the elections that I was working on this article. Prof Otite not only encouraged my writing it but followed up by sending me some of his books and urging me on several days after we got back home. For this I am grateful.
First, I must register the shock that most Urhobo people got when the current executives of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) made in public what has become known as the Uwiamuge declaration. Many of us had to caution ourselves not to be seen to be speaking against our revered UPU. Upon reaching out to leaders who made the pronouncement, we were assured that it was a tactic of war and that the details of its execution were infallible and secretive. But we did register our fears and concerns. This however is not the time to engage in futility.
Throughout our history the UPU has fought and won many battles. But none has been fought on the pages of newspapers. The present situation will naturally call for the resignation of the present UPU executives. But that can’t be done until we have done our homework in preparing those to take over. Moreover, you don’t cut your nose to spite your face! Thus we shall all wait till December when Congress shall meet.
For now, leaders of the Urhobo nation must start encouraging our credible, discreet, patriotic and self-sufficient sons to make themselves available for UPU leadership. The Council of Traditional Rulers, Elders and Leaders Council, Religious Ministers Council as well as Urhobo Social Club must jointly and severally begin work on this. Thereafter the President Generals of our various clans must be co-opted. We must know those to emerge before the D-day otherwise, those who see the UPU as a means of self-aggrandizement will again hijack it and continue to make us a laughing stock in Nigeria. God forbid.
While we shop for leaders for the UPU, we must at the same time define the problems we have and use same to set an agenda and guideline for the in-coming UPU executives. The infamous Uwaimuge declaration does not capture the root cause of our problems neither does it provide a sustainable solution. The situation we are in is indeed terrible.
Some States in Nigeria today don’t have our population. Yet we are confined to just eight local government areas in Delta State. We acknowledge our brothers and sisters spread in other local governments. Within Delta State, areas with less population have more local government areas than we have. To make matters worse, politicians have continued to reduce our population on paper with every voter registration and census since 1999 with exception to General Aziza’s voter mobilization during the 2011 elections. It is not heard of in history that the population of a people group dropped that sharply without the out- break of epidemic or war. Most of our local government areas are the largest in the country either by land mass and population.
Somehow, the powers that be have ensured that almost all our local governments have only one member at the State house of Assembly. Even where the courts have decided against this oppression, the electoral body looks the other way and our people gaze helplessly. This encapsulates our problem. All problems of marginalization stem from this situation. And if there is any fight that must be fought, it is this. We can’t get the governorship of Delta State in this situation and even if our neighbors decide to give it to us when they will as some of our people suggest, the Governor has no power to correct this anomaly or save us from the effect of this contrition. Thus we need a leadership who will pragmatically work towards solving this problem.
Politicians and cheap personalities can’t help us in this matter as most of them have proven to be only interested in their stomach infrastructure. They must not be allowed on board the new UPU executives. This is a clarion call on the Council of Traditional Rulers, Elders and Leaders Council, Religious Ministers Council as well as Urhobo Social Club to start holding meetings separately and then collectively as December is not that far off. As we smarted from the location of the State capital at its creation, we did it with the election of the first executive governor of the State. Let us do it again.
We have seen that the mundane methods of pronouncing curses and going to bed will not work. There is a lot of work to do. Our new leadership must seriously engage our legislators. What we need from them is not the distribution of motor-cycles perpetuating poverty but rather using their good offices to effect laws that will address our problems as enumerated here and also budgetary performance. We might need to send some on training and continually monitor, support and pressure them to act right.
We didn’t create ourselves Urhobo people. We therefore have no apology for being Urhobo. Our children must not grow up ashamed of their heritage. Where we are now demands that we stoop to conquer. And conquer we must.