- As Iyowaye emphasized renewed unity between the two ethnic nationalities
Following the recent threat by the Onion Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria to stop the supply of onions to the Southern part of the country, Urhobo/Isoko nationalities of Delta State have been charged to take advantage of the opportunity of the threat to integrate and go into the cultivation of some of the food items supplied to the Southern part of the country from the North.
Giving this charge on Saturday on the occasion of Urhobo/Isoko Unity Forum Conference held at the PTI Conference Centre, Effurun, Delta State, the President-General of Isoko Development Union, IDU, Prof. Christopher Akpotu, who spoke on the topic, “Urhobo/Isoko Economy, Ways We Can Thrive Together”, said that the two ethnic nationalities must engage in economic integration and turn the North’s threat to ban food supply to the South into opportunity to venture in the cultivation of onions and rearing of cattle.
Akpotu stated that technology has simplified agriculture to the extent that grasses can be grown at homes for the feeding of cattle just as onions could be grown in most parts of Urhobo and Isoko lands.
He said: “Just some days ago or some weeks ago, the Onions Sellers Association of Nigeria and the Cattle Rearers Association of Nigeria, made a threat declaration that if we are not careful with our utterances that we make, there will be no onions and cattle in the southern part of Nigeria.
“And when that threat came up it was treated with triviality in the ordinary Nigerian way. For me as a strategist and an entrepreneur, it was an opportunity for us. I never looked at this issue from a trivial perspective. Urhobo/Isoko, I charge you today, our economic integration is going to start from planting onions. Our economic integration is going to start from rearing cattle.
“In recent times, technology has taken us to the extent where we can grow grasses in labs; we can grow grasses in our homes even more than what is grown outside. If that be the case, then there will be no need for anybody to threaten us that you are withdrawing cattle from us.
“We will economically integrate here and we will be able to produce enough cattle to market to the entire sub-region. And we will do it in a most scientific manner.”
Akpotu also disclosed that the proposed economic integration between the Urhobo and Isoko can also be developed by exploring into the field of entertainment and tourism in the area, adding that it is time for Urhobo/Isoko to think less about oil.
He noted that the entertainment industry contributes several trillion of dollars in GDP to the American economy, adding that Isoko and Urhobo have abundant talents who are holding sway in the entertainment business.
“Our focus should not be on oil. In a season where the world is beginning to discuss on entertainment, we shouldn’t be talking about oil. At a time the former American President, Jimmy Carter, charged Americans to explore the entertainment world. And that was why in the days of Michael Jackson of blessed memory, when he came up with the track “Thriller”, the American President as it were, said, “This is an American dream come true”.
“The entertainment industry is a massive sector. If you discuss Hollywood in America, the contribution of Hollywood to the GDP of American economy in the California area runs into trillions of dollars. And if we are able to harness the several talents we have in the entertainment industry, the economic integration among the Urhobo and Isokos will be an interesting one”, he said.
Citing the success story of the economic integration of the European nations which metamorphosed into the European Union, EU, Akpotu further charged Urhobo/Isoko to identify the areas of comparative advantages that will make the two ethnic nationalities to become a leading economy not only in Nigeria, but in the world.
He also dwelt on the abundant tourist attractions within Urhobo and Isoko nation, citing the Ethiope River and the site where Bible was believed to have fallen from the sky in Araya, Isoko South Local Government Area in 1914.
Earlier, the convener of the Urhobo/Isoko Unity Forum Conference, Deacon Chris Iyowaye, had reiterated the vision of the Forum to reinvigorate the unity that had existed between the two ethnic nationalities, stressing that there is the need to re-emphasize the things that bind the Urhobo and Isoko together at this critical time.
Iyowaye who spoke on the topic “Urhobo/Isoko – Unity, our Bond”, traced the age-long cordial relationship between the Isoko and Urhobo, adding that the baton of unity handed to the new generation of Urhobo and Isoko people should not be allowed to drop.
In a nutshell, there is always reason to agree to disagree or disagree to agree. Urhobo/Isoko people by nature are not just YES men! We critically evaluate issues, by seeking diverse opinions, thoroughly exhaust alternatives, re-evaluate modify before reaching a general consensus. We neither believe nor subscribe to “Winner Takes All” mindset.
“In conclusion, we implore therefore, that once we as individuals and, as a collective begin the practice of subordinating our personal interest for the over all interest of our people, we shall behold more of the things we share in common as against those divisive and retrogressive tendencies which are the stops to our togetherness and harmonious coexistence.
“Therefore, the existing baton of unity handed to us from the previous generations must not drop as we prepare to handover same to the next generation”, he said.
Also speaking at the occasion, the President-General of the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, Olorogun Moses Taiga emphasized the bond between the Urhobo and Isoko, adding that both nationalities were one over the years.
The UPU PG who was represented by the Deputy President-General, Chief Anthony Onoharigho, Ph.D, said that the Isoko people have a common heritage with the Urhobo, pointing out that there is a strong bond and affinity between both tribes.
He said: “There is a very long bond and affinity between the Isoko people and the Urhobo. We are a people of common heritage. The fact is incontrovertible and is not a subject of debate. Indeed, the two nations have virtually everything in common.
“Today, we are looking at working together. Every Isoko man and Urhobo man are one. Isoko and Urhobo have never been involved in a combat. Let us not bring those things that divided us. Isoko and Urhobo have to work towards getting things done.”
Former labour leader, Chief Frank Kokori, while speaking, also emphasized the unity that had existed between the Urhobo and Isoko in the past, stressing that it is wrong for some person to dig out what divided the two ethnic nationalities, but rather they should seek what bind them together.
Speaking to The New Diplomat, on the essence of the forum, one of the organizers of the conference, Hon. Gibson Akporehehe stated that it was for the two ethnic nationalities of Urhobo and Isoko to forge unity.
Akporehehe confirmed that the Urhobo/Isoko Unity Forum is non-partisan, adding that it is the vision of the Forum to continue to work for the unity of the two ethnic nationalities beyond 2023.
According to him, where there is the need to seek for a credible and qualified person for any position, the group would work without political and ethnic sentiment, adding that it will be guided by the principle of merit.
Present at the ceremony were a cross section of kings from Urhobo and Isoko nations, Presidents-General of various communities from Isoko and Urhobos amongst women and youths from across the two nationalities.