By: Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe *****
LAGOS—–In the history of Delta Politics, 2015 general elections will not be forgotten in a hurry. It turned out to be the most critical political era for the entire Urhobo Nation. It began with the so-called “Uvwiamuge Declaration” which seeks to endorse any Urhobo son or daughter that will emerge as Governorship candidate from either the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The rest is now history. But what is fundamental in the entire political scenario is the involvement of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) in full blown partisan politics which has received total condemnation from prominent Urhobo sons and daughters as well as reputable Urhobo social clubs particularly those outside Delta and in the Diaspora.
The consensus view of vast majority of Deltans and indeed Nigerians is that UPU, being the global socio-cultural organization of the Urhobo Ethnic nationality ought not to be directly involved in partisan politics, to the extent of openly endorsing political candidates.
It was discovered later that those who came up with the idea of Uvwiamuge Declaration had dubious motive of making huge financial gains from it. Self interest over the collective interest of the Urhobo Nation became uppermost and the project died mid-way.
That singular decision by the leadership of UPU to get deeply involved in partisan politics rocked the unity boat of the Urhobo Nation as two of its prominent sons, Chief Great Ogboru of the Labour Party (LP) and Olorogun O’tega Emerhor of the All Progressives Congress (APC) lock horns in political battle in quest for the office of Governor of Delta State.
The battle created severe crack in the water-tight leadership of the UPU and the centre could no longer hold. At the end of the political tussle, the two sons of Urhobo Nation (Emerhor and Ogboru) could not make it to the Unity House, Asaba because of the division in Urhobo land and massive rigging tactics adopted by the PDP and its political associates.
The parties are now at the Tribunal to scrutinize the electoral materials with a view to unravel the mystery behind the victory of the PDP candidate who was sworn-in as Governor on May 29.
In the light of the above, I wish to raise and discuss issues which in my opinion will help move the Urhobo Nation from this deadlock and strategize for the future. The UPU need total overhauling to the extent that the present executives will need to quit and fresh blood injected to reconcile all parties especially the two major key political players in the 2015 general elections in Delta Central (Ogboru and Emerhor).
The kings in Urhobo land should appoint a caretaker committee or a transition committee as the case may be to take over the affairs of UPU without further delay. The Ovie of Agbon Kingdom should spearhead this move; work with the Orodje of Okpe, Owhorode of Olomu Kingdom and other prominent royal fathers.
The committee will look into all grey areas in the union’s constitution, especially to ensure that the amended constitution has a section that prevents the leadership of the union from involving themselves in partisan politics. The constitution should also spell out the qualities of candidates vying for the Presidency of the union.
The standard should be taken to a higher level. The candidates should be men of aristocratic dignity and of super pedigree. Chief General Aziza qualified eminently which was why he performed without blemish. We need such men and not political hustlers in native beads.
The qualification should stepped-up to that of a retired Justice, retired Chief Magistrate or retired Senior Civil Servant not less than the rank of Permanent Secretary in the State or Federal Ministry. Other qualifications may also include that the Presidential aspirant must be a responsible Urhobo son with viable business of transparent integrity and must have not less than 25 years of boardroom experience, et al.
This is necessary to avoid a repeat of the Uvwiamuge Declaration saga that almost tore Urhobo Nation apart. We need men of substance this time around.
The proposed amended UPU constitution should also have a provision which makes it possible for the Council of Traditional Rulers (Ivie or Monarchs) to take over the running of the union once there is strong evidence that reasonable number of the executive members are getting involved in partisan politics or engaged in fraudulent activities such as going cap-in-hand begging of Mr. President and State Governors money for their personal gains.
The constitution should make it possible for the audited accounts of UPU to be published twice yearly in two national newspapers and local newspapers in Delta State. The audited account should be done by a reputable external auditing firm and will during the annual convention of the union answer questions revolving around the audited financial statement and the appropriation of the union funds.
The Women and Youth Wing of UPU should be made to be autonomous such that they hold their meetings and generate their funds. These two arms of the UPU together with the Council of Traditional Rulers should act as checks and balance on the National Executive and be able to move vote of no confidence on the executive whenever the need arises to give way for a transition committee to take over the affairs of the union for specified period of time.
At the moment, the powers of the union executives are too much. They can do and undo which is why it is almost impossible to checkmate their fraudulent and selfish tendencies. Urhobo Nation is large and must be well organized so as to enable us take the rightful place in the comity of nations. Never again shall any politician or political activist be elected as the President-General of the UPU. Political candidates should go to the field and not come to UPU for endorsement so as to keep the unity and integrity of Urhobo Nation in a water-tight compartment.
The time is now for Urhobo Nation to pick up her pieces and forge ahead in unity, love, peace and understanding. A house divided against it-self can never stand. The current executives of the two factions of the UPU should put aside all manner of acrimony and consider the general interest of the Urhobo Nation.
I humbly and respectfully call on Chief Tuesday Onoge and Chief Joe Omene to collapse their leadership structures into a committee to be set up by our royal fathers with a view to purging the house of all bitterness and selfish personal interest; for the good of the entire Urhobo Nation. Our neighbours have made us a “laughing stock.” This must stop henceforth.
I am of the candid opinion that if Urhobos are truly united from this time onward the future will be great for us all. Time for our royal fathers and prominent sons and daughters of Urhobo Nation to tackle this problem and enthrone an era of new leadership in UPU is now. Urhobo Ovuovo!
Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, is a political analyst and President of Agbon Peace and Economic Transformation Initiative (APETRI). He wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.