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URHOBO: RETRACING THE OLD LAND MARK

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It is with severe pain that I picked up my pen again to write in response to the article titled 'Why the People's General' Great Ovedje Ogboru Should Support UPU, as published on page 18 of the Urhobo Times May 8th-15th edition. The article made me to really have a serious rethink over my previous impression, notion and mindset towards the Urhobo nation.

After a very careful and thorough analytical perusal of that article, I began to see more clearly the problem of the Urhobo nation. Just a few days ago I heard an Urhobo man say in pidgin English, 'We the Urhobos we go school but we nor know book' which by interpretation means that 'The Urhobos are educated, but are not intellectually brilliant/intelligent' or the 'The Urhobos good at attending Schools, but are not well educated' depending on how you want to interpret it. Honestly speaking, I wanted to engage him in a fierce and heated debate or argument on the matter, but somehow, a verse of the Holy Bible flashed into my mind that 'Be swift (quick) to hear, but be slow to speak' James 1:19 and immediately, I decided to hold my peace and give some thought to the man's statement.

Suffice to say that after a critical and in-depth analysis, I began to see some sense in the statement. I began to understand why an Urhobo man occupying a high ranking office in the private sector in such establishments as Shell, Chevron, NNPC, AGIP, etc would angrily rebuke you in the open when you greet him in the Urhobo dialect in the presence of his friends or colleagues; whereas in the same place, those friends and colleagues of his especially of the Yorubas, Ibos, Hausas etc would gladly respond in their local dialects to greetings from their tribesmen. I began to see and understand why this generation of Urhobo sons and daughters are no longer proud of the Urhobo identity.

It was that man's statement that made to begin to understand why I and other Urhobo students were coerced to learn the Itsekiri language at Dom Domingos College, Warri and other schools in Warri South LGA of Delta State, and the leaders of Urhobo especially under the auspices of the UPU never deemed it fit or necessary even till date to fight against such language imposition and cultural brainwashing. It's a shame! In fact, so many things went through my mind, all of which I may not be able to put down in one piece of writing. I have in fact, decided to specially write to the UPU leadership on very crucial and sensitive issues as they affect the Urhobo nation.

I could now see why the incumbent Deputy Governor is an Urhobo man whereas, there is very high government negligence of Udu and Ughievwen where he has his residence and hail from respectively. It is no gainsaying that the entire Udu LGA is suffering unimaginable neglect, marginalization and oppression by a governor with a heart of vengeance.

In the final analysis, I concluded that the Urhobos are actually lovers of education and indeed attended educational institution, but they fall short of possessing the true knowledge and quality that the acquisition of education gives in earnest. This does not mean that every single Urhobo man falls into this category, however, generally speaking, this has become the pitiable state of the Urhobo man. I say this because, if what I have been made to understand about true education is anything to go by, then the Urhobos really have a long way to in this dispensation. No wonder, in-spite of the fact that all over Nigeria, the Igbos are feared for their characteristic nature of betrayal and traitorship in the slightest monetary inducement, and that they could do anything for money, yet you could hear an Igbo man make statement such as 'Urhobo wayo' which means 'Urhobo is fraudulent' .

From my findings on the present day so-called Urhobo elites, I discover that the Urhobo nation has found bliss in ignorance; and when ignorance is bliss, it is funny to be wise. In the eyes of the traitors and betrayers of Urhoboland, the wise, honest, patriotic and uncompromising sons and daughters of Urhobo land have become fools and failures. When you refuse to be bribed or induced, when you decide to sell out, you are termed a fool. This is in line with the Holy Bible as contained in I Cor. 1:27 that 'God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise'. From generation to generation, those who consider themselves wise in their own eyes have always ended up being the practical fools.

One of the most unfortunate thing about life is not that we do not know what is right, but that we always choose to do the wrong things, and ours is a society where people are prepared to destroy anything or cover up any crime, if doing so promotes their economic interests. There is no gainsaying the fact that, all those talking about the declaration of UPU leaders at Uvwiamuge as the final decision of the entire Urhobo nation are doing so for selfish purposes. They are not doing it because Urhobo nation needs an Urhobo governor, but because they seem to have lost political, social and economic relevance, and they think it is by dancing to the tune of the corrupt cabal, that they'll get back their lost place and pride, whereas they are actually applying a more suicidal approach.

I can now see why Pastor Tunde Bakare posited that 'It takes idiots to be ruled by fools'. Without cause for any form of argument, if you have a fool as a leader then the followers must be idiots. This why the Holy bible says that if the blind leads the blind, they'll both fall into the pit. If the Urhobo nation is in a pit today, it is not because the governor of Delta State is not an Urhobo man, but because our leaders sold mortgaged our rights, place, pride and future for a morsel of meal like Esau. And except the young generation come to accept the truth, they'll be deceived again into following blind leaders into the pit in the name of a declaration.

Without any apology, I dare to say that any son of Urhobo who publicly claim that Urhobo voted massively for PDP in the October 12th Delta Central Senatorial Bye-Election is nothing but a blind, deceived, self-defeated and enslaved hypocrite. It was another revelation that the so-called Urhobo elites disguising with the UPU nomenclature have lost integrity, respect and focus; as it was an election marred by unimaginable degree of fraudulent irregularities. . That election was a direct replica of the 2007 era where the electorates were totally disenfranchised, and where Urhobo nation allowed themselves to be fooled by the so-called elites who conspired with Abuja to have someone imposed on the entire people of Delta Central.

I have never concurred and will never concur with any position or assertion that Great Ogboru had failed in all past elections. How can you fail in an election that did not take place and, or in the ones where results were falsified and manipulated? If the author of that article Denzel Umukoro claims he voted in 2007, then he is an insincere son of Urhobo. If Denzel Umukoro believes that human beings voted massively for Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan in 2011, then he is one of those who are plunging the Urhobo nation, ad indeed Delta State into a bottomless pit. I can boldly state that Denzel Umukoro did not vote in the said Delta Central Senatorial bye election in 2013; and therefore his claim that Urhobo voted for the PDP is a scam and a shameful one for that matter.

If you want to know the shamefulness of the activities of the UPU, just take out some time to analyze the population of Delta State on Local Government Area basis, voters registration and eventual votes cast in Delta Central in comparison with Burutu, Warri South West and Warri North LGAs. Do a critical analysis of the fake results declared in the 2003 and 2007 'elections' in terms of the figures and what it has dropped to today. When you are done with those analyses, you'll know that the coming of Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru into the political scene in Delta State had brought tremendous change in so many respects.

I also want to disagree with the argument by some that after every election, the Peoples General goes to sleep, and comes up again only when elections are drawing near. Such assertion, impression and, or notion is totally misleading and are products of the kingdom of darkness, and is only publicized by ignorant men. What you do not know is that after every election, Chief Great Ogboru goes back to the drawing board to review and re-strategize, and when he shows up, there is an immediate resurgence of hope, belief, courage, energy and willingness to go all the way.

On the issue of strategy, I beg to disagree with Denzel Umukoro. What is strategy? According to Alfred Chandler 'Strategy can be defined as the determination of the basic long-term goals and objectives of an enterprise, and the adoption of courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out these goals.' If this definition is an acceptable one, then there is the long-term angle to strategy which most people in Delta State are blind to. This is because many people are yet to understand or believe that the course being pursued by Great Ogboru is a battle to liberate Delta State and its people from oppression, underdevelopment, slavery, ignorance, self defeat and political ineptitude; and this is not a mean fight.

According to Sun Tzu, 'The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.' Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru has used this strategy effectively and even without him fighting yet his war artistry have seen our collective enemy pushed back and almost to the point of the enemy giving up and surrendering; and very soon the enemy's surrender shall be announced. Sun Tzu also posited that 'To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill'. At the moment, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru is the only man in the political battle field whose presence scares the enemies of our souls; he is the only man whose courage and persistence had consistently become a nightmare to political criminals in Delta State, the only man who have shown total commitment in the fight to rescue Delta State from the claws of political scavengers and vampires, the only one who have shown unwavering faith in getting justice through the right means, who believes in the rule of law despite several disappointments from the custodians of the laws of the land.

He has made his mark, and positioned himself for continuous lifting in the scheme of things. He is being pursued here and there with lobbyings and pleas from various quarters to sheathe his sword of political battle, when he is yet to even draw out his sword to fight. All others have surrendered to monetary inducements, bribes and 'settlements' and have lost their pride and place. Many others have sold their rights, relevance and reputation in exchange for mere perishable money and materialism. This is what makes Chief Great Ogboru the pride and jewel of all true lovers of good things in Delta State.

On the issue of those who left the Ogboru train to either the PDP or APC, you cannot blame them too much, because it takes so much to possess the kind of quality courage, might and effrontery of Great Ogboru. They have the right to withdraw from the battle or race if they so which, however, they must know that dining with the Devil is cancerous and suicidal. I also know that at the appropriate time the majority of them will return to the fold.

To join the PDP is not really a difficult thing for Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru and his ardent followers and staunch supporters to do. However, doing so would mean a lot of things. It would amount to self defeat-admitting that the evil monster of election rigging cannot be subdued or dethroned; it is admitting to the maxim that if you cannot beat them you join them. It would mean that he had not an ideology different from what PDP leaders have to offer and it would mean that the content of his proposed programme and manifesto were never true or genuine in the first place.

To join the APC, is not also a difficult thing to do; in fact. He attempted to do so, but the story of how things eventually went is not strange to followers of political events and trends. As a person, I have seen that Ogboru's decision to withdraw from the APC merger arrangement was one of the wisest thing any focused person should do. This is because the way and manner in which the affairs of the APC are been run and managed today clearly show that APC won't last long. We are already beginning to see the signs right from the Ward to the State Congresses; and the final nailing on the coffin will be witnessed by everyone at their Primaries come 2015. I do not see a Party where leadership positions and party tickets are traded for money making any meaningful impact in the fight to oust the PDP. The call and clamour for cancellation of congresses in some states are just a little of what is ahead of the APC as regards the 2015 general elections.

For the information of Denzel Umukoro and indeed anyone who care to know, ACN's 'victory' in the South West States of Ogun and Oyo capturing the governorship seat from PDP is a factor of two possible things. One, the PDP does not have grassroot support in the South West, they only succeeded in seizing the governorship seat of the aforementioned states for some time through the Obasanjo rigging machinery, and when the people rose up to take back their right, PDP had no option but to surrender to the will of the people. On the other hand, Tinubu and President Jonathan had their secret deal of 'fall for me, I fall for you'-in other words, allow ACN claim back these South West States and we'll deliver the South West to you in the presidential election. This was not only a trade by batter arrangement, but that involved the exchange of some very heavy and weighty 'ghana must go'. I leave it there!

Back to the issue of strategy, I want to say that it was the implementation of a well thought out strategy that made the outcome of the 2011 January 6th Re-run and April 26th Governorship elections to be far better than previous elections. It was the first time for a good number of eligible voters to cast their votes for the candidates of their choice in some parts of the State. Take note that it was not a function of any declaration from the UPU, but a declaration by well meaning and true citizens of Delta State that it was time to stand up for their rights. The little hiccup was simply that our counterparts in the riverine areas of Burutu, Warri South West and Warri North didn't join in the rescue mission, and as such allowed the kleptomaniac politicians to use their area to perpetrate the damaging fraud. And very soon that area would be adequately taken care of.

One thing I must make clear is that, the so called UPU leaders/stakeholders have the right to air their opinions and take their decisions, but do not in any way have the right to impose any selfish and uncalculated or ill-calculated risk on the sons and daughters of Urhoboland. I repeat, they have no right of such. Every Urhobo indigene has the right to vote for the candidate of their choice. There are too many people right now who cannot be brainwashed by such calumnious articles and write-ups like the one by Denzel Umkoro and being sponsored by political aspirants who are scared of the Ogboru support base and gold diggers who feel there is not enough 'ghana must go' in the Ogboru camp to atisfy their lust for money and material wealth which are only but perishable things. We will never fall for them.

I wonder what Denzel Umukoro meant by total support for Ogboru by UPU in 2007 and 2011 governorship elections. How many of these stakeholders could stick out their necks to give financial support, testify as witnesses in Courts (election tribunals), or make a unanimous declaration of total rejection of the outcome of the elections. What we rather saw was a situation where people were going to beg Uduaghan for recognition and relevance.

I put it to you that, having Aguariavwodo in the Senate is not a function of the UPU's political prowess, but the result of UPU's political relegation to the background as a result of selling and mortgaging our collective future and dignity before now. If the UPU would come to its senses, and the so-called stakeholders call themselves to order by growing above traitorship and betrayals arising from financial inducements; if they can stand as honest, sensible and disciplined men, with honour, integrity and dignity, I tell you political parties like the PDP and APC will be crawling on their knees begging for their support, as against UPU going about begging for relevance. Begging for ministerial appointment from President Goodluck Jonathan, is nothing to celebrate. When we have come to our senses and do away with sell outs, we shall not beg before such appointments.

How many times have you heard of the Oba of Benin, the Olu of 'Warri' or Asagba of Asaba going to Aso Villa on a solidarity visit or to beg for recognition and relevance? And how many times have you heard that the president of the Federal republic of Nigeria visited Delta State and paid courtesy visit to the palaces of any traditional ruler in Urhoboland? Whereas we see the president paying homage to the Olu of 'Warri', Asagba of Asaba, because they never made themselves nor their thrones as cheap as our Urhobo leaders have made the Urhobo identity almost a thing of naught. Rather these revered leaders sit back in their palaces and calls come from Abuja for them to send their nominations across to Aso Villa.

The UPU is a socio-cultural organization or body established with critical aims and objectives, as shown below (curled from the UPU Constitution):

URHOBO PROGRESS UNION (UPU)
MOTTO, AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:
The Motto of the Urhobo Progress Union (hereinafter referred to as the 'Union') is 'Unity is Strength' Slogan, 'Urhobo Ovuovo'

The aims and objectives are:
To foster the spirit of love, mutual understanding and brotherhood among Urhobo people; good relations with neighbouring people, and Nigerians in general.

To encourage the educational development of Urhobo people.

To promote and foster the development and economic participation of Urhobo people by encouraging the establishment of viable organisations, institutions or projects, to incorporate limited liability companies wherein members, the national body, the branches, clan Union can buy shares.

To acquire by way of grant, purchases, loans or otherwise, concessions, right or property or privileges from any Government for the purpose of achieving the aims and objectives of the union.

To work for mutual understanding and co-operation between Urhobo people and Governments

To project and protect the Urhobo personality at all times and everywhere.

To preserve and promote the culture and tradition of the Urhobo Nation.

To give political, economic and social direction to the Urhobo Nation in National, States and Local matters affecting Urhobo interest.

Any other general purpose ancillary to and or connected with the aims and objectives of this association.

If the above are anything to go by, then Urhobo has almost lost her cultural identity, and the socio-cultural body established to address this issue has been hijacked by some unworthy individuals for personal aggrandizement. There is a place in Warri where you can learn the Isoko language free of charge-this is a project put in place by people who understand cultural integrity and dignity. People who understand the importance of focus and purpose. Where are the scholarship programmes of the UPU, where are the investments, where are the evidence of things being done to protect the Urhobo culture , what are the signs of implementation of the aims and objectives of the UPU? Why is the Urhobo Cultural Centre edifice not completed yet? Is it by joining the PDP or APC or campaigning for political parties even when the parties themselves are yet to kick off campaigns that will provide answers to these wuestions?

It was Obafemi Awolowo who posited that 'a country is poor because its people are poor; it is poor because its people are underdeveloped in body and mind; and its people are poor because they suffer from ignorance, undernourishment, calorie deficiency, and disease, and so on and so forth. In the real sense, education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave. The Urhobo nation is where it is today because, our elites have failed in ensuring the compass and hem of our ship is stayed and focused on the true course. What the Urhobo nation needs right now is proper re-orientation, genuine education and deliverance from social, political, economic, spiritual and intellectual brainwashing. The right education that will wash off the 'conquered slave' mindset/mentality.

If I want to be very blunt here, I will say that no UPU declaration in the uncompleted building at Uvwiamuge can lure, persuade, convince or even coerce true lovers of democracy and good governance to joining the PDP train in Delta State. The battle before us is not one of partisanship, but of total emancipation from mental slavery; an overhauling of the poverty-mentality make up of the minds of our people. It is about coming together to pull down the forces of darkness, irrespective of party affiliations and sentiments.

Denzel Umukoro and all detractors, be informed that whether you like it or not, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru shall be Governor of Delta State. UPU's declaration or any other declaration by any individual or group of individuals, whether in the name of a socio-cultural body, socio-political or otherwise organization or body for that matter cannot stop it; it has been ordained by God, and the mere stretching of time and impatience of some men cannot undo the perfect and divine will of God.

Watch out!
Omonigho Akpahwe writes from Warri
[email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Omonigho Akpahwe and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Omonigho Akpahwe