|Urhobo Historical Society|
A Report of the National Secretary of Urhobo Progress Union
Presented at the Annual National Congress of December 6th, 2008
By Chief (Barr.) Victor Otomiewo
On behalf of the President-General His Excellency, Olorogun Felix Ovuodoroye Ibru and the National Executive Council of the Urhobo Progress Union, I welcome all of you most heartily to our 2008 Annual National Congress. This year’s Congress is the first to be organized by this administration. We should congratulate ourselves that in spite of the murderous onslaught mounted against the existence of the UPU between October 2006 and the Congress of December 2007, the UPU as the unifying and rallying point of the entire Urhobo nation is still existing and viable. We thank God for His mercies.
I am honoured and delighted to present to you the highlights of the activities of the Urhobo Progress Union during the period under review.
2.0 Monthly Meetings/Extra-Ordinary and/or Emergency Meetings
Executive meetings were held monthly at the President-General’s residence in Ughelli. In addition to the monthly National Executive meeting, the National Executive at the instance of the President-General has held and/or directed urgent and sometimes emergency meetings to be held with Urhobo Traditional rulers, members of his council, Urhobo leaders of thought and Urhobo political elites and leadership. In these meetings, ideas on modalities to improve on the lot of the Urhobo nation in all spheres of human endeavour were freely and candidly discussed. Bridges of mutual understanding were built while areas of conflict and disagreement were carefully addressed. Some of these meetings have started yielding some positive results. Frayed nerves in some instances have been assuaged and total rapprochement and reconciliation achieved. The process is still on-going and we hope that by the next Congress, I shall be able to categorically report to you that all is well in the comity of the Urhobo nation.
2.1 I wish to report that at an emergency meeting on Tuesday, 2nd December, 2008, the National Executive Council decided to recognize Mosogar as the 23rd Kingdom of Urhoboland. However, in doing so, the Council stressed that the UPU should not support future attempts to break up any Urhobo Clan/Kingdom.
3.0 Establishment/Registration of Branches and Approval of Applications of Other Statutory Bodies as Members of NEC
I have the pleasure and privilege to announce to the congress that since our last meeting in December 2007, the National Secretariat has received applications for recognition and inauguration of new branches from Mosogar Clan, Ivory Coast, Austria, Germany and South Africa. The clamour for new branches is no doubt the consequence of the rising profile of the Union. The contributions of the immediate past President-General and the current President-General and his executives is invaluable in this regard.
Permit me at this juncture to remind all of us here (as I did last year) particularly the branches, that under our Constitution, all affiliated, approved and recognized branches must obtain certificate of registration upon application and payment of necessary fees. For new branches, the fee is N50,000.00 (fifty thousand naira) for registration and N5,000.00 (five thousand naira) for certificate. All certificates are to be endorsed by the President-General and the National Secretary. For the avoidance of doubt, any branch which is still operating without a duly endorsed certificate is acting illegally and the National Executive Council may be forced to take disciplinary and/or legal action to enforce compliance. The President-General has been most liberal and compassionate in the enforcement of this statutory requirement. This is probably informed by his desire to ensure that all and sundry are brought on board to contribute his or her own quota to the growth and development of the Union and the larger Urhobo nation.
3.1 Whilst still on the drive for membership and new branches, let me refer to a recent work by a distinguished Urhobo scholar, Dr. Hope Oghenerukevbe Eghagha, an Associate Professor, Department of English Language, University of Lagos in a lecture titled: “Okugbe R’urhobo: Networking – The Key To The Survival Of The Urhobo Nation.” He observed thus:
“Networking comes from something, not from nothing. In advocating a virile network for the Urhobo therefore, the big question is: what platform? If we are going to use the UPU platform, how do we attract young professionals and make them see UPU as an organ for the entire Urhobo and not for the old generation? For as far as I know, and I stand to be corrected, not too many young Urhobo men and women identify with the UPU as a forum for networking. This has given birth to other organisations one of which is the Atamu Social Club. The Urhobo Social club is another platform. The different ethnic associations in the towns are platforms. Through conscientisation, education, and grassroots UPU branches should go beyond the mundane which seemed to have occupied their attention.
But in view of the challenges of the 21st Century, it may be necessary to create more platforms for networking. The UPU in my humble view should re-born or regenerate itself. With the current leadership, I do not see a problem here. It should become a grassroots cultural organisation and pull the youth into its fold. Developing an educational policy that will entrench scholarships and bursaries for all Urhobo sons and daughters who wish to go to school should be primary. If properly harnessed, all Urhobo children, both at home and abroad, will become members of UPU”
4.0 Report On Civil Suits Involving UPU in Court
In my 2007 report, I notified Congress of the fact of FIVE PENDING cases against the UPU in the High Court of Justice, Delta State, holding in Sapele and Otu-Jeremi respectively. Fellow Urhobo patriots, I am delighted to inform you that one of the first positive and laudable achievements of the present executive is an amicable resolution and out of court settlement of all the Sapele matters.
The President-General and his Deputies, especially the 1st Deputy President-General – Chief Patrick Aziza — were very relentless in the pursuit of all the out of court settlement. After the last Congress, another Urhobo citizen in pursuit of his perceived right, filed an action in the High Court of Justice, Otor-Udu, asking inter-alia for the cancellation of the 2007 election, which brought this executive, for the reason that he was barred from contesting for the post of the President-General. I am also delighted to inform Congress that your President-General whose car number plate is PEACE in conjunction again with his executive was able to persuade Chief Brume Ezewu of Agbarho to withdraw the suit and same was struck out.
The only outstanding case against the Union is pending at the High Court of Justice, Otu-Jeremi. It has to do with the 2002 ward re-delineation exercise carried out by DSIEC. The case is still crawling slowly but surely, I have implicit confidence that the truth, justice and rule of law will ultimately prevail. I must appreciate in this regard, Chief Young Abenabe and Mrs. Margaret Atano who have been very consistent in attending court every time the case is mentioned in court.
5.0 The Urhobo Nation and the Niger-Delta Question
In my address to Congress last year, I informed Congress that the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, had during our visit to Aso Rock in October 2007, promised to emphasize the Urhobo national interest in all matters touching and concerning the Niger Delta question. In accordance with his promise, the Urhobos were effectively represented in the Ledum-Mittee led Technical Committee on the Niger Delta. Our representative was the indefatigable and cerebral professor of sociology – Chief Omafume Friday Onoge. His choice was widely acclaimed and I am sure he did not disappoint the Urhobo nation. The committee has since submitted its report to the Federal Government for action.
Apart from the above, the UPU Exco also presented a robust and well researched petition to the office of the chairman of INEC on delineation of Federal Constituencies in Delta Central Senatorial District on the need for additional State and Federal Constituencies for the Urhobo nation. This is without prejudice to the SEVEN additional ones earlier proposed and announced for us.
With respect to the occupation of the newly created Ministry of Niger Delta, Congress should be rest assured that the President-General and his National Executive Council are working assiduously behind the scene to ensure we are not short-changed. Whilst still on the issue of the interest of the Urhobos in the Niger Delta, it is pertinent to mention at this juncture the mindless and criminal kidnapping of the wife of one of foremost Urhobo industrialists – Chief Humphrey Idisi. The Union’s NEC also intervened and made its modest contribution in the resolution of the impasse.
6.0 The 2006 National Census/Voters Re-Validation Exercise As It Affects the Urhobo Nation
For the umpteenth time, let me remind us that these two exercises are very important to the geo-political relevance of the Urhobos as a nationality in Delta in particular and Nigeria in general. The Union’s Executive is on its toes with regard to correcting all the flaws and mischief which were perpetrated during these exercises. The committee which the union put in place to superintend this exercise is still in place. It is still on duty working assiduously to redeem the Urhobo nation from the quagmire thrown up by the lopsidedness of the exercise. The Federal Government has inaugurated the Census Tribunal which is to adjudicate on all disputes arising from the exercise. However, the tribunals are yet to release the rules of procedure for filing of complaint and resolution of disputes. However, the Urhobo nation must not be caught unprepared. Collation of complaints should be intensified and centrally stream- lined for filing as soon as the whistle is blown at the tribunal.
7.0 Obituaries/Condolences/Reception For UPU NEC
The UPU in the year under review lost some of its distinguished members to the greatest lever of mankind – death. The list though very short was formidable – Chief James Ogboko Edewor, Elder John Otalekor and Chief Daniel Ikie. As usual, the UPU paid the Constitutional condolences to the families of the bereaved. I also wish to report the sad loss of Peter Agoreyo who led the Urhobo Progress Union, United Kingdom for a great number of years in the 1960s with distinction.
The same period witnessed the hosting in a very grand style of the President-General and his executives by the Urhobos in Lagos and Abuja respectively. Both occasions were deeply Urhobo in contents and execution. I salute the organizers.
8.0 Conclusion, Appreciation And Matters Arising
Before concluding this report, permit me most humbly to raise some serious and weighty matters for our meditation and may be positive action/response:
a. Fallouts from the 2007 Electoral Fraud and the Attempt to Abort the 2007 UPU Congress
Fellow Urhobo compatriot, the pains and shame inflicted on the Urhobo nation by the massive fraud of the political elites is still evident and very fresh. I am enamoured with the President-General’s current peace and reconciliatory initiative. I support whole=heartedly the President-General’s programme of dialogue and reaching out. I urge my Urhobo nation to forgive the political elites who mortgaged the political and economic interest of the Urhobo nation for filthy lucre and selfish interest. Remember – “You cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest” – LOUS HOWER 1936. After all, to err they say is human, but to forgive is divine. But can we forget??? However in forgiving, let the reconciliation be total.
In reconciliation, let us be guided by the wisdom of WILLIAM WARD when he said:- “There are three enemies of personal peace; regret over yesterday’s mistake. anxiety over tomorrow’s problem and ingratitude for today’s blessing.”
b. Interaction with Our Neighbouring Ethnic Nationalities
In the very short but eventful span of tenure of the Olorogun Felix Ibru’s administration, conscious and concerted efforts have been made to reach out to all our neighbouring ethnic nationalities. In this wise therefore, the National Executive Council had endorsed the full participation of the Urhobo nation in the CONFERENCE OF ETHNIC NATIONALITIES OF THE NIGER DELTA. In the meeting of the CONFERENCE OF ETHNIC NATIONALITIES OF THE NIGER DELTA (CENND) held in Warri on 13/9/2008, the conference resolved as follows:
Ethnic Nationalities of the Conference are to bring to the Executive Committee, details of inter and intra ethnic conflicts as soon as practicable to enable it commence the process of instituting the mechanism for organizing the peaceful resolution of all such conflicts. It is important to emphasize that the Conference does not intend to be bogged down with issues that are not relevant to the overall interest of our region and in particular intra ethnic squabbles over matters that are not in conformity with our stated aims and objectives. In the light of this, Ethnic Nationalities are requested to embrace this initiative by reporting all conflicts in a written form to the Secretariat”.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, let me, as usual, appreciate the quality contributions of the Assistant National Secretary of the Union – Elder John Onojakpor — to the modest achievement of the secretariat. He has been of tremendous assistance to me in the workings of the national secretariat.
I wish you a successful congress.
God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria
God bless Delta State
God bless Urhoboland and its people
Chief (Barr.) Victor Otomiewo
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