…Urges exploitation of huge prospects for development of Urhobo
…Commends UPU for soliciting Ijaw cooperation on guber race
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has called for renewed unity and love to tackle challenges confronting the Urhobo people.
Omo-Agege, made this call at the UPU headquarters in Uvwiamuge, Ughelli North Local Government Area yesterday while delivering the Union’s Anniversary Lecture titled: “The Challenges and Prospects of Urhobo in Contemporary Times”, on the occasion of the celebration of its 90th anniversary.
He noted that there is much prospects for the Urhobo nation, if and only if there is unity, love and cohesion among the people.
While extolling the achievement of Urhobo founding fathers who worked in unison to foster the growth and development of the Urhobo nation, Omo-Agege lamented the current developmental challenges which, according to him, emerged because of the Urhobos’ failure to build on the foundation of unity and brotherhood which the heroes past put in place for the people, adding that as a result, the nation which used to be the envy of other nationalities, can no longer speak with one voice.
He said: “Our founding fathers recognized that those nations that had come together to work for a common goal had succeeded in developing their communities and empowering their people. So, they worked together. The leadership of UPU worked together with various clan chiefs and met regularly in what they called Urhobo General Meetings to formulate an agenda for the Urhobo people. And because they worked together, there was no challenge they could not overcome.
“That is the spirit we are called to show once more, especially now when we face similar challenges: lack of unity, falling educational standards, loss of economic power and political marginalization.
“We are also faced with new challenges such as violent crimes, herders-farmers clashes and rising youth unemployment that is fuelling insecurity in Urhoboland, and threatening our way of life.
“These challenges did not come about overnight. But because we failed abysmally to build on the foundation of unity and brotherhood which our forebears – Chief Mukoro Mowoe, T.E.A. Salubi just to mention a few – laboured to establish for us, we watched helplessly as the pendulum swung too far towards individualism. And now, a nation that was once the envy of other nationalities can no longer speak with once voice.”
Speaking further, the Deputy President of the Senate noted that the spirit of individualism has been detrimental to genuine effort to mobilize the Urhobo people for defence and protection in politics, adding that it was the reason why the UPU, from inception, was positioned to provide good leadership and promote the consciousness of a common political identity of Urhobo nationhood.
“This strong sense of individualism that is rooted in the republican nature of Urhobo communal affairs and politics was and would always be detrimental to any effort to mobilize the Urhobo people for group defence and protection, especially in the political arena. That is why the UPU, right from its early days was positioned to provide leadership and work to promote the consciousness of a common political identity of Urhobo nationhood,” he said.
Omo-Agege also expressed concern about the agitation of a section of Okpe Kingdom to carve for itself an autonomous ethnic group, adding that the Okpe-speaking people have an inseparable bond as one people with other ethnic groups in Urhobo who have worked and won together for the betterment of the Urhobo nation.
“We have seen several successful and unsuccessful attempts at the structural balkanization of Urhobo into autonomous clans or kingdoms. The rising agitation for Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality in Nigeria should be of great concern to all Urhobo people.
“Okpe, Ughelli, Uvwie, Udu, Orogun, Agbarah, Abraka, Oghara, Ovu and other Urhobos are one. We have a symbiotic and inseparable relationship as one people of same ethnic nationality, working together and winning together for the greater good of the Urhobo nation.
“I do recollect that it was the UPU that took the political campaign to persuade the colonial government to recognize the coronation of Esezi II as Orodje of Okpe, after a long interregnum. To avoid the painful experience of the ‘Agbassah land case’ of 1952, the UPU also made the Sapele land case of 1941-3 an all Urhobo affair,” he said.
The Delta Central Senator stressed the demerits of lack of unity declaring, “We are better and stronger together.”
In proffering solutions to the myriad of challenges bedeviling the Urhobo nation, Omo-Agege identified abundant opportunities in the areas of agriculture, mineral resources, manufacturing industry, education and rich culture which, if properly harnessed.
“Undoubtedly, Urhobo has what it takes to confront this challenge. Urhobo land is gifted with abundant mineral and agricultural resources including crude oil, gas, palm oil, rubber and glass-making soil for industrialization. We also have clay suitable for pottery, rivers, tributaries and streams suitable for electricity generation, fishing and other marine activities, to transform our economy and create jobs for our teeming youth.
“In the same vein, with mineral resources such as sharp sand, silica, kaolin, clay, barite and forest resources such as timber, oil palm and raffia palm available in Urhobo nation, there is no reason we should not have a thriving cottage industry. We must harness these natural resources for the growth of our economy and development of Urhobo land to create employment and reduce the level of poverty among our people.
“In terms of access, we have made considerable progress in education. Public and private primary and secondary schools are everywhere. We have two distinct technical colleges in Ogor and Sapele, two distinct colleges of education in Warri and Mosogar, a polytechnic at Oghara, a petroleum institute and a federal university in Effurun, a state university in Abraka, two distinct private Universities in Oghara and Agbarha-Otor.
“With the newly established Federal Polytechnic, Orogun, expected to commence academic activities in September, 2022, I think we can count our blessings in the field of education.
“In this age when education is about giving students the skills they need to succeed in the new economy, establishing skills acquisition centres to teach our young men and women skills for employability in the current global economy is what Urhobo must do to prepare the youth for the challenges of a modern economy.
“Urhobo has a very rich culture. We are proud of our foods, traditional religious beliefs, norms and taboos. So too is our culture of industry and spirit of enterprise which was the hallmark of the founding fathers of the Urhobo Progress Union. It is now our responsibility to sustain this heritage as the unifying force for Urhobo nation,” he noted.
On the political prospect of the Urhobo nation in 2023, Omo-Agege noted that it is important to be circumspect over attempts by other ethnic nationalities to scuttle the chances of Delta Central in producing the next governor of the State.
He commended the UPU in its continued opposition to the ongoing surreptitious and dangerous move by others to sway the process against Urhobo political interest, adding that it is gladdening that the union is also reaching out to the Ijaw nation to support the Urhobo cause.
“As we move towards another election season in 2023, it is most appropriate to be conscious and strategic. In recent months, there has been considerable apprehension over attempts to short-change Delta Central Senatorial District in the rotation of the governorship position in 2023. the strong opposition of the UPU to this surreptitious and dangerous move to manipulate the political process in the State against Urhobo political interest is commendable.
“I sincerely applaud Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Worldwide, for insisting that it is the turn of Delta Central Senatorial District to produce the next Governor of Delta State. I am also pleased that UPU emphasized the need for the Ijaw nation to support the 2023 gubernatorial quest of Urhobo nation.
“Also worthy of note is UPU appeal to political parties in the state to sustain the rotational arrangement of the state’s governorship position based on senatorial districts. They have spoken the mind of all Urhobos irrespective of political platforms,” he said.
Omo-Agege concluded by thanking Urhobo people for their continuing support and understanding, and for standing by him in his political journey.
“Since assuming office, I have been primarily preoccupied with how our Urhobo ethnic group would take its pride of place in Nigerian and indeed Delta State, I’m pleased to inform you that across Urhobo land, the implementation of our various programmes and projects are in full gear as our commitment to bringing development to our communities is unwavering. I am fully committed to making Urhobo relevant in the national and global system, ” he declared.