THE ABYSMAL STATE OF THE URHOBO NATION.
The recent political appointments of Acting President Jonathan lacking an Urhobo, the largest ethnic group in Delta State and fifth largest in Nigeria are a reflection of the present state of the Urhobo nation. Suffice it to state that the state of the Urhobo nation is in shambles, and needs urgent attention.
For so long the Urhobos were a dynamic, enthusiastic and self conscious nation who believes that its people were created for a purpose. We are a people of great destinies, with the culture of duty to serve a cause greater than self-interest and to keep faith with the eternal and universal principles of self preservation, by overcoming threats to our nation's survival. It is therefore nostalgic to look back on those times and assume that our progress was inevitable – that Urhobo was always destined to succeed.
In the past when our people were challenged by forces detrimental to our survival, our ideals snatched by greed and selfishness, victory was very much in doubt. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our tribe. And despite all of our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, the Urhobo people prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, and as one people.
In recent times the Urhobo nation both at home and the Diaspora has been tested and again, we must answer history call. Our collective actions have set us back. The Urhobos of today have departed from the ideals of our past leaders.
Lack of cohesiveness and the politics of personal interest has become the trademark of our people. For the past eleven years, our so called leaders have destroyed all that urhobo stood for; our destinies are being determined by rascals who call themselves political and community leaders. We have allowed the power in Asaba and Abuja destroy our political, traditional, and cultural hegemony for paltry pot of pottage.
The Amori led Urhobo Political Forum (UPF) and Amioku led Urhobo Consultative Forum (UCF) are the major reason why the Urhobo nation is were we are today. These “political elite” have deliberately, created and/or condoned suffering in the midst of so much, thereby turning our people to beggars and worshippers of ill-gotten wealth.
They have neglected our people for their new constituencies – big hotel projects, multi shopping complexes, gigantic country homes among others. They spend more time attending to these projects than the plight of our people.
The polarization of the Urhobos by the state government has deprived us the opportunity to be partakers of the social debate and, ultimately, the ability to express the marginalization of its people. Equally complicit – by their loud silence – are our traditional rulers. They are supposed to be custodians of our traditions. One cannot help but wonder if the cars, monetary gifts, political contracts and juicy employment opportunities to their children and relatives have subverted their allegiance to their subjects.
Taking stock of the Ibori/Uduaghan administration, Urhobos should ask the question,
- Where are they today compared to the Ijaws and the Itsekiris?
- How many Urhobo have been appointed to the federal judiciary, I am not talking of the Supreme Court?
- How many Urhobos where made ministers, ambassadors, head of federal establishments?
- Let’s talk about appointment in Delta State, how many high court judges do we have today compared to say fifteen years ago?
- How many Urhobo are NDDC contractors or employees?
- How many are Delta State or DESOPADEC contractors?
- How many are Shell, Chevron and other oil company including servicing company contractors and employees?
The statistics don’t lie, when it comes to the Niger Delta Region the Urhobos are the poorest. We’ve become a majority minority.
Now, if we’re honest with ourselves, to reclaim our proper place in Delta state and Nigeria as a whole, we must be stronger, and our politics must be smarter. We should aim to lead all deltans in building a state with opportunities for all. We need more than vision, however, to achieve our rightful place in Nigeria; we must face up to an unprecedented array of challenges in the present dispensation.
To meet these challenges, we will have to rise above the pursuit of personal interest. Our destiny should be in our hands and not in a single person or another tribe (Ijaw or Itsekiri). It is time we move beyond the Ibori era and set a new agenda for ourselves.