The Need To Change IDU To Isoko Ethnic Nationality
One issue that keeps bothering my mind as an Isoko indigene is the worrisome organization called Isoko Development Union (IDU) formed over sixty years ago and yet to protect the interest of Isoko division. The purpose of creating Isoko Development Union which was formerly known as Isoko Union has been grossly defeated and hijacked by those that never wished Isoko people well.
Isoko division was created in 1963 through our amiable and dogged fighter of Isoko Doyen of politics, late Chief James Ekpre Augustine Otobo of Uzere kingdom who saw the Isoko political vision beyond ethnic mission, and succeeded in seeing Isoko division separated from Urhobo East and remained a united one to fight for the common front. The name Isoko Development Union does not represent the interest of Isoko nation but its objectives focus on socio-cultural organization and nothing else.
Few weeks ago, I received a call from one of the Isoko students in Delta State University, Abraka writing his project on Isoko political development using IDU as a case study where he enquired from me whether IDU as made any Isoko person to hold any political office in Nigeria since its creation, as a student of Department of history, I told him straight that IDU is not a recognized organization in Nigeria because the name does not represent Isoko entity than some voracious persons that want to bring Isoko nation down at all means.
After putting several calls to me and his scientific researches on Isoko nation, specifically on IDU on internet, he discovered that IDU is not the veritable voice of Isoko nation than key Isoko people in the union projecting a new ethnical name that would represent the interest of Isoko people. One great Isoko Archbishop granted an interview in one of the Isoko community newspapers where he said that IDU many a time invited him to see how the union can move forward but unity is the bane of progress since then. Even when some Isoko group of intellectuals agitated for the late Chief Abel Ubeku to be nominated as Isoko political father after the demise of Chief Otobo, some desperate Isoko people rebutted that ideal due to leadership inferior complex in the land. Isoko population is over 700 people and ethnically blessed with agricultural produces like cassava, yam, palm oil and others.
IDU has not addressed the bordering issues on unemployment of Isoko youths, one united front, mechanized Agricultural system, political recognition, infrastructural developments, cottage industries, education, oil marginalization and excesses of over-used politicians in Isoko. I doubt if Governor Uduaghan nominated anybody from Isoko to represent the ongoing National Confab which Urhobo and Itsekeri people were delisted and they fought immediately to see they were in the list of delegates across Nigeria. But IDU is only interested on political consulting than fighting for their rights.
In 2011 precisely the former President- General IDU, Elder Peter Ovie Erebi called on a mini-conference on the need to put the union in order only for some disgruntled elements wanted to disrupt the meeting. To God be the glory, handful members of the union that believed on the oneness of Isoko nation attended the conference to chart a new course for development. Elder Peter Ovie Erebi met well for Isoko people to make IDU as one common front that would fight for Isoko cause.
It is very sad that IDU that started its operation for over sixty years agodoes not have an ultra-modern civic hall for their meetings than using a public hall for their regular meetings and elections which indicated that IDU still operating on community leadership system than Isoko ethnicity. If unity can take a centre stage of the Union, then IDU will remain a formidable socio-cultural organization in Nigeria. Though IDU is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) but not politically organized. That is why some learned Lagos- based indigenes are fronting for Isoko nation to join Urhobo but that is unconstitutional rather. If Isoko Ethnic Nationality (IEN) replaces Isoko Development Union (IDU), then the interest of Isoko will be projected nationally and internationally. You hardly see IDU granting press conferences than patronizing local newspapers and the Vanguard newspaper alone.
No Isoko man wants to spend money on press to project the interest of the land than attending local parities for display of crisp of naira notes in the public and nothing else. Both IDU men and women wings are not protecting the interests of Isoko people than exhibiting their retired attires and expensive automobiles for every IDU programmes. IDU should be jettisoned from Isoko political history because its operation is myopic and embracing sycophantic system of leadership and nothing else. IDU is good in writing official letters to both the state and federal governments knowing fully well that its operation does not represent one voice of Isoko people. Those Isoko people in Ndokwa east are yet to join IDU to see how the union can progress. It has been alleged that IDU does not include Isoko people that joined the Ndokwa local government and Bayelsa state over the years.
Today, Isoko nation has not gotten a political father since the demise of Chief Ekpre Otobo because everybody in Isoko wants to be a father due to their political positions in the land. Everybody wants to be a leader without a mentorial father. The former IDU President- General, Chief Oke Akpojene was kidnapped sometimes in 2012 when his kidnappers took #7million naira as his freedom bail in the name of IDU leadership. My grouse with IDU is that they interested in electing old people to pilot the affairs of the union over the years. One of the former leaders once alleged that the young ones in the union wanted to direct him what to do and he preferred to relinquish his leadership. The new youths of Isoko nation today, are well-acquainted with technological knowledge in all ramifications which needed their inclusiveness in the union than relegating them to the background in leadership positions.
Since the creation of IDU, no President-General has able to build a hall for IDU till date. Even Elder Peter Ovie Erebi made several attempts but was alleged of impropriate of the union funds. How much does IDU gets in a month or year? That somebody will embezzle if not political ignorance of leadership in Isoko. If some powerful persons that are connected with various governments can influence funds to the union. How can the union be funded? IDU is not the poorest union in Nigeria but lack community unity. IDU is surrounded with highly placed intellectuals, technocrats, business moguls, leaders of thought and others but cannot build an edifice hall for its meetings over the years. The acclaimed Timber and Caliber of men and women in IDU cannot bring out their money to sponsor IDU leadership. Six months from now, Isoko nation will be marking 51st anniversary, yet IDU cannot even celebrate Isoko nation at 50 last year.
Even the IDU branches across Nigeria and Abroad are not politically, socially, culturally and economically performing because all instructions come from the unstable apex leadership of the union. IDU is surrounded with highly placed professionals, yet Isoko nation is still at the quagmire. The reason for the present SSG, Delta State, Comrade Macaulay Ovuozourie to set up Isoko Advancement Network (IAN) is to project the interest of Isoko nation against the backdrop of leadership in the region over the years. How long can Isoko people play second fiddle in politics?
Though IAN is now a dead vision in Isoko. Even when the Delta State PDP chairman, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi faulted the comment made by Delta State SSG on national newspapers, nobody in IDU or IAN could counter the political moves of the chairman. If Isoko Ethnic Nationality is fully accepted by Isoko people, then its leadership must embrace youthful vision that helps to ameliorate the sufferings, victimization, marginalization, harassment and political inequality in Isokoland. Isoko Ethnic Nationality must look into Isoko leadership by inviting all interested political aspirants and those already in political leaderships to put Isoko people in their minds while in political offices.
IDU is the eye of all mothers of community leadership and organizations in Isoko. He must have his own office in Oleh and passes a first degree or any other qualifications that is relevant to leadership in Nigeria. As for you are a member of Isoko Ethnic Nationality, you must be an active member of your community or a financial contribution that shows your commitment to community leadership. With the crops of personalities in IDU, the union ought to represent the yearnings of Isoko people. How many of the past IDU President-Generals can boast of many single project influenced in Isoko. Over the years, the IDU has not addressed the multiple issues of entrepreneurial skills among its youth and others.
IDU is a mirage. In one of the interviews granted in Isoko mirror of March edition, page 5, 2014, the present President-General of IDU, Major-General Paul Ufuoma Omu(Rtd) said litigations are the bane of IDU's growth which indicated that union has many waters to cross to success. IDU has been hijacked by certain persons who want to silent the voice of Isoko people. Who will bail Isoko people from this leadership tussle? IDU cannot organize Isoko nation at 50 last year because of lack of internal leadership democracy in the union.
Every top member of IDU is addressed as chief, but nobody is ready to take IDU leadership to the next level. Most of these ageing IDU leaders should serve as advisory board members while allowing the younger generations to pilot the affairs of the union. IDU leadership should not be given to half-baked or mediocre that sees IDU as a means to run credible Isoko people down.
Finally, IDU should be scrapped to allow Isoko Ethnic Nationality to take over the leadership of Isoko. Everybody in Isoko should be blamed on the failure of IDU leadership over the years. It is time to say no to IDU and used Isoko Ethnic Nationality for national recognition.
Public Affairs Analyst Lagos