Some Evils of the Warri Situation


And Internal Questions To Be Resolved By Urhobos

1. False Propaganda

Telling the same lie over and over again, to wit, Urhobos were slaves to Itsekiris as well as subject people within an Itsekiri Empire. Make-believe by such acts as importing a supposed Professor Orlinto from Brazil to lecture on Itsekiri past glory and ownership of Warri. Although the arrival of the said Professor Orlinto into the country and his upcoming lecture were well published in the press, the man himself was more or less smuggled into Palmgrove Motel ground, Warri, and Itsekiris only were invited to the lecture at the end of which hoax no questions were allowed.

2. Fraud

a) The oppressor crying wolf to the outside world and gaining sympathy against Urhobos. By this manoeuvre any advantage, employment, political offices or representation, social recognition that is not monopolised 100% by Itsekiris gives cause to raising alarm against Urhobos for seizing Itsekiri rights. Thus has apartheid been successfully installed against Urhobos in Warri to this day.

b) Cooking of statistics to conform with the “facts” of propaganda. In a classic case, by no means isolated, an Itsekiri Electoral Officer registered 481,000 eligible voters out of a projected population of 377,000 men, women and children. Of this 214,000 voters came from the barren Itsekiri riverine areas whose population was less than 50,000 so that fake election results from there gave the Itsekiris the Chairmanship of the Warri Local Govt. Area Council. Also these figures enabled the Itsekiris to claim that they were the dominant tribe in Warri as a result of which Itsekiri language and culture are taught to Urhobo children in Warri as mother tongue, in some cases by Urhobo teachers who speak Itsekiri. For, the Itsekiris do not even have enough Itsekiri teachers for the programme. Part of the propaganda machinery is to walk the corridors of power with women and money bags night and day, also by monopolising offices at local level they control and manipulate information to their advantage and exclusive of others.

 c) Election rigging as an art. The fact that election results are published without elections held or that election figures are doctored which so shocked the nation recently resulting in the outright cancellation of the Presidential primaries, have been normal practice in Warri.

d) The situation created by (b) and (c) above is that of a facade of strength used as a bargaining weapon in the formation of alliances often against Urhobo interest.

3. Monopoly

Funds are set aside for financing propaganda and political activity, including elections, as Itsekiri strategy of rivalry, monopoly of offices for ultimate ascendancy and prominence in the public eye. Their success passes for enigma considering their size. Although much has been said about the astuteness and Machiavellian Itsekiris a few words must be said about changing times. When the rural (including six of the seven Agbarha village units) Divisional Council was abolished in 1976 a single Warri Local Government Council combining rural and urban replaced it. The determination to win the council at elections led to the intensification of making fraudulent registers of voters, and other types of electoral fraud. Because of the heavy returns from the inaccessible and dangerous riverine areas the Itsekiris were courted at Local, state and national level for political alliances. This bargaining counter is now lost as far as Warri South (more or less Warri Urban) is concerned. The 1991 Census figure for Warri North, that is, Itsekiris and four Ijaw Clans of Ogbe-Ijoh, Isaba. Gbaramatu and Egbema, is 87.000. Eligible voters would be about only 40,000 where in the past it was 214,000 for Itsekiris and 73,000 for Ijaws. The Ijaw population is larger than the Itsekiri. However, Urhobos have little stake in Warri North unlike Warri South.

In Warri South the population which is predominantly Urhobo is 213,000. Ode-Itsekiri ward is part of Warri South Local Government. Although it is incredibly split into three wards, the area has a population of no more than 5,000. The National Identify Card Project when completed will bring the final adverse change for the Itsekiris.

Thus the avenues for chicanery are closing in. But none must underrate these men of devices to trump up new plausibilities for the Guinness Book of Records. Theirs is to surprise, to attempt and leave you one step behind to fight their latest infamy while they have hopped on hatching yet a new one.

However, Urhobos cannot pretend to a determined effort to redress their experience in national politics and assume their proper place without first dealing with their own internal problems.

Internal Questions To Be Resolved [By Urhobos]

  •  Is it possible to speak with one voice? If so what form of organisation is required?
  • Is it necessary to speak with one voice? Yes, if Urhobo presence must be established at national level to give them leverage as opinion makers and pace setters for tomorrow’s prosperous and peaceful Nigeria.
  • Can Itsekiri charge that Urhobos in Warri are an army of occupation of Itsekiriland be given the lie? Yes, through consultation with the Urhobo indigenes of Warri to establish them in respect and honour to lead their own households, not as U.P.U. being the Ovie of Agbarha or Okere or Warri. The Agbarha people exist. The Okere Urhobos exist. They and their brother Urhobos exist. Urhobos cannot end Itsekiri clamour over Warri without putting Agbarha and Okere Urhobo forward.

The cognate term Urhobo has been extensively used in this exercise yet much stress has been laid on Urhobo individualism and lack of unity as an obstacle to collective action for collective benefit. The chicken and the egg question arises. Which should come first: for the purpose of tackling Urhobo political problems the quest for Urhobo unity while all other problems wait or tackling Urhobo problems now without unity? Tackling problems together could itself contribute to unity. But the immediate problem that arises in trying to find unity is the same as that in trying to solve the common problems some of which have been defined here. Who in the name of the whole should take the initiative and be thanked for it? So, it is not only the bright day, after all, that brings forth the adder that craves wary walking as Shakespeare says. Services and good intentions also do. Therefore communication and appropriate consultation ought to be the handmaid of any primemovers. Knowledge of the circumstances to he harnessed come next since, if all Urhobos were to come together in harmony to plan their future, unity would have been achieved ab initio and this can be a dream; the relevance of a conference such as this becomes striking.

Hence, notwithstanding that the objective of this conference is largely academic, ample encomiums must be poured on the initiators of this conference. It is a vigorous starting point Mr. Chairman of the Committee of the Urhobo International Conference, sir, my humble thanks; Mr. Secretary of the Committee of the Urhobo International Conference sir, my humble thanks. The Committee and the entire members of the Urhobo International Conference, sirs, EMUDIAGA CLUB my humble thanks. All you dignitaries, Sirs, and powerful men of Urhoboland, here and outside, associated with the effort of the Committee, my humble prayer that the Committee can go back satisfied that they have ploughed the field and scattered the good seed on the land. By your grace and the grace of all here present whichever way you pray, may the land be fruitful..


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