The opening ceremony of the Urhobo Progress Union’s 90th Anniversary that took place on Monday, November 29, 2021 was an eye opener.
That day exposed the attitude of the average Urhobo man and woman to anything that concerns Urhobo.
Urhobo leaders of the PDP stock demonstrated in clear terms that if Urhobo interest were to be placed side by side Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s preferences, Urhobo leaders will choose Okowa in place of Urhobo. These are the kind of men and women that have been parading themselves as patriots, capable of representing Urhobo interest. When it is time to sing the Urhobo national anthem, these characters, adorned in flamboyant wrappers and big hats, will place their evil hands on their chest to pledge loyalty to Urhobo, stressing that nothing entices or appeals to them more than Urhobo. But on Monday, Urhobo PDP leaders told UPU in blunt terms that Governor Okowa is more important to them than Urhobo.
There were two events on Monday, November 21, 2021. One, which ordinarily should be the most important event to every Urhobo son and daughter, was the opening ceremony of the 90th anniversary of the UPU which was founded in 1931. The other one was the commissioning of the new State Secretariat of the Delta State Government by Vice President Yemi Osinbaji. A look at the hall on that fateful day clearly revealed the premium Urhobo people placed on matters of Urhobo interests. Save for three or four, Urhobo traditional rulers were conspicuously absent at Uvwiamuge only to run to Asaba to decorate the commissioning of the State Secretariat with their royal presence in deference to Governor Okowa. Rt Hon Sherriff Oborevbori, Speaker of the State House of Assembly who was designated as Chairman of the opening ceremony did not show up at all. He was in Asaba to pledge loyalty to the governor, whom he believed, had the capacity to make him governor in 2023. Chief Kenneth Gbagi, who prides himself as OjarUrhobo reri, heaped insult on Urhobo with his yawning absence. None of the governorship aspirants of the PDP, the 8 Council Chairmen from Delta Central, and the House of Assembly members of Urhobo extraction, all deferred to Okowa against the biggest celebration ever in Urhobo land. How can Urhobo attract honour to itself when the leading lights of Urhobo, the royal fathers, top government officials all chose to strip Urhobo naked and threw the pieces of her clothing on the streets of Asaba! Our people say that if you call your own cloth rag, others will call it rag.
One thing you cannot take away from the average Itsekiri man and woman is their love for Itsekiri above every other consideration. They love themselves and dare not treat the Olu crown with such disrespect as Urhobo leaders did to UPU on Monday. However anybody choose to look at what happened is left for him or her, but this writer is totally disappointed that Urhobo leaders, who have benefitted and lived good lives on account of their being Urhobo, can display such degree of disrespect for Urhobo because of politics. If the event were to be Itsekiri event, no government official of Itsekiri extraction will be in Asaba for any reason. All of Itsekiri leaders would be at the event to promote her honour, dignify the event and project Itsekiri with compelling and attractive evidence of respect for Itsekiri before the whole world. How come no Urhobo commissioner, aspirants to position of honour in Urhoboland and other PDP political leaders of Urhobo extraction came for the opening ceremony of UPU 90th anniversary? And this was an event that was planned and the date in the public domain for over one year! This is totally unacceptable and those who pour this shit on the face of Urhobo should stop parading themselves as Urhobo patriots. They are the problem Urhobo are contending with, a huge cross and terrifying incubus that weight Urhobo down socially, culturally, spiritually, economically and politically.
In political parlance, what these Urhobo political leaders did is called disloyalty. Except for a very insignificant proportion, they all trooped to Asaba to pledge loyalty to the governor so as to be sure of tomorrow. By Friday when Okowa will be at Uvwiamuge, all these emergency patriots will tie the UPU wrapper to pronounce fake loyalty to Urhobo. God bless Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, the highest political office holder from Urhoboland. But for Omo-Agege intervention and sense of organization and mobilization, the event would have been an embarrassing moment. Coming to Uvwiamuge because Okowa would be there is no respect for Urhobo. The slogan in the PDP circle is ‘where Okowa go, we go’. That is exactly what played out on Monday. The Urhobo politicians are so loyal that if Okowa command them to spit on their respective fathers’ faces to get appointment, they will readily do so. To the PDP leaders, the love for Urhobo is secondary. Okowa is the god of Urhobo politicians, if he says die, you die, if he says live, you live. But that is not true of the other ethnic groups in the state.
Urhobo politicians of the PDP stock who chose to be in Asaba while the rest of Urhobo gathered at Uvwiamuge should bury their heads in shame. Shame on you all! I repeat, shame on you! Itsekiri will never do that to Itsekiri honour. When the current Olu was coronated earlier this year, that same day was the burial of the father of Governor Okowa. How many Itsekiri leaders were in Owa-Oyibu for the burial? Even the Warri South Council boss, Dr Michael Tidi was with his Itsekiri people to celebrate the new Olu. What compelling role did these Urhobo leaders played in Asaba during the commissioning of the secretariat that would justify abandoning Urhobo event for Asaba? Who would have missed their absence if they had stayed with Urhobo on Monday? 90 years anniversary is not a mean celebration, yet Urhobo leaders of the PDP stock chose to stay away because the god of the party had an event in Asaba.
May I use this opportunity to commend Senator Ovie Omo-Agege for his outstanding support for the event! He filled the vacuum left by these unpatriotic Urhobo patriots who chose to spit on Urhobo honour to honour their god. The hall was filled to capacity by APC leaders from all over the land. Perhaps, PDP leaders may tag Friday December 3, a PDP day because Okowa would be coming. Now we know those who truly love Urhobo and could jettison anything to honour her. Love and patriotism is gauged by action and not mere expression. Those Urhobo PDP leaders who were in Asaba on Monday should go for confession at the grave of Mukoro Mowoe. Chairman of the ceremony, Rt Hon Oborevbori is not spared. The Deputy Speaker could have represented him at the Asaba event. Sending Hon Solomon Ighwrakpata to represent him at Uvwiamuge was a huge slap on Urhobo. The patriotism of these Urhobo leaders was tested, placed on a scale and like King Belshazzar, for whom a hand wrote that immortal pronouncement; it is equally, Mene Mene Terke Upharsin, meaning their loyalty to Urhobo has been weight and it is zero. Urhobo cannot make progress with this kind of attitude. I have said my own.
NB: Annabel Ogheneganre writes from Garki, Abuja. (09030558731 SMS only or [email protected])