October 2, 2017, started with a heavy downpour. Lagosians understand that to mean trouble because the whole city gets flooded and life literally comes to a standstill. Many were apprehensive, but God knew the mission was genuine, so the rains stopped before it could inflict damage and Urhobo sons and daughters started trickling into Admiralty Conference Centre, venue of the gathering tagged A DAY WITH URHOBO SOCIAL CLUB, at about noon.
Olorogun Moses Taiga, President General, Urhobo Progress Union Worldwide
After the opening prayers led by a Past President of the club, Special Most Evangelist Emmanuel Evue, rendered in flawless Urhobo, to the admiration of all present, the President of Urhobo Social Club, Lagos, Prince Austin Enajemo-Isire, quickly set the tone of the gathering in his opening speech: “Even though today’s gathering is at the instance of Urhobo Social Club, Lagos, the business of the day transcends the club. We are here today as Urhobos in Lagos to talk about the Urhobo Nation at this critical stage of the corporate existence of Nigeria as a Nation.”
And “talk” we did. The presentations focused mainly on the theme of the gathering: URHOBO UNITY, PROGRESS AND WAY FORWARD. It is no longer news that the Urhobo Nation is deeply divided, a division foisted on us by a few key political actors to serve their selfish end.
The bitter taste of the seed of division they sowed is still very much with us over a decade later. The division has turned Urhobo Nation into a giant with clay feet.
Major issues, including who emerges governor in Delta State, have been accomplished in the last decade in our small Delta, in spite of Urhobos, not to talk of Nigeria. Yet we mouth the fourth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria with no bite to back it up.
This makes it “imperative for the Urhobo Nation to stick together like a bunch of broom and become a formidable entity, fulfilling its enormous potential,” Isire rightly observed. Urhobo unity is not about using the accompanying size and strength to oppress others, as some people erroneously believe. A united Urhobo Nation will be of benefit to the Urhobo people as well as the rest of Delta and the Niger Delta.
The drums of restructuring are sounding louder; no matter what happens at the end of the day, the components units that make up Nigeria will discuss the way forward for Nigeria as a nation. When push comes to shove, a fragmented Urhobo Nation will be a liability to the rest of the Niger Delta and Nigeria.
Predictably, some people both within and without are apprehensive over a united Urhobo nation. A united Urhobo Nation is bad news to the status quo which they represent. But no matter how long you hold people captive, when the time for freedom comes, you stand in the way at your own peril. Ask Pharaoh. The destiny of the Urhobo people is in their hands and when they decide to bond as one, at least substantially, there is nothing anybody can do about it.
In his contribution, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of Urhobo Social Club, Chief Johnson Barovbe, also lamented how disunity has brought the Urhobo Nation to its knees, he particularly condemned the policy of Omote om’ohwofa ( a daughter belongs to another family by virtue of marriage). He said this policy has alienated Urhobo women, especially those married to men from other ethnic groups. For Barovbe, “seeking unity includes bringing our married daughters and our sons-in-law closer to us. They are part of us.”
Also speaking, Chief Goodie Ibru harped on a united Urhoboland. He said sons and daughters of Urhobo should be encouraged to set up industries to provide much needed employment in Urhoboland. But during his welcome speech, Isire had listed some obstacles which needed to be overcome for Ibru’s dream to come to fruition.
Isire said “the more worrisome trend is that Urhoboland is turning to a land that is very hostile to investment and development. We have heard stories of Urhobo sons and daughters, who attempted to set up farms or companies back home to provide employment.
They were chased away by their own people, the same people they are trying to give back to. This self-destruction must stop.”
Other speakers at the summit harped on the necessity for unity before Urhobo can make progress on all fronts. They said the slogan, Amroma vughe (let us know ourselves and who we are) must be operationalised. Responding, the president General of Urhobo Progress Union Worldwide, Olorogun Moses Taiga, said he was the gathering to listen more and talk less. But he confessed that all the speakers spoke his mind.
Taiga said that the degree of “Urhobo Ovuovo” (Urhobo is one) exhibited by every Urhobo person is the principal basis of peace, growth and development of our beloved Urhobo nation. He re-emphasized the need for Urhobo Nation to speak with one voice and under the Urhobo Progress Union, the umbrella body of all Urhobos.
The gatherings attracted many