Patriotism alone is not enough, and as a prospective leader of Urhobo progressive Union, one must of necessity be resident in Urhobo land. No responsible war captain wins a battle from the Diaspora. The UPU was conceived in the early 1930’s ensure Urhobo’s progress by collective effort, hence its Motto: “Unity is Strength.” Today, the Urhobo nation cannot claim to be united and certainly lacks a central authority to unify the various Clans. And without Unity progress is not achievable. Our founding fathers held deeply to this maxim, when they composed the Urhobo National Anthem; the phraseology of “Ko-ko-ko Ogbare” implies unity.
Our problem now is how to ensure our ethnic unity in the political diversity of today. There were no political parties as at the time UPU was founded and the first President General of the Union, Chief Mukoro Mowoe of blessed memory represented Warri province (essentially then in Urhobo nation) in the 1940’s at the Legislative House in Ibadan. Chief Mukoro Mowoe mandate was from the UPU. Today’s UPU cannot repeat that feat. Until and unless we return the UPU, with a structure and intent as of old, Urhobo as a nation will continue be inconsequential in the Nigerian polity.
My aim and purpose is to reunify the Urhobo ethnic nationality if elected as the President General. It was that unity that made Urhobo College Effurun possible, build on land donated by the Effurun community; that unity sponsored the scholarship scheme that trained first Urhobo graduates in the United Kingdom that manned the College; that unity also ensured the building and completion of the UPU secretariat on a land donated by Chief Mukoro Mowoe in Okere. These legacies have stood the taste of time.
I was fortunate to have been born at a time and place where the UPU had its roots and into a family that was a major participant in its growth. Indeed, as a young boy, I witnessed the giant apex of the UPU Tree. I joined my father Chief T. E.A Salubi, of blessed memory, on his inauguration as the fourth President General of the UPU on a tour of 46 UPU branches Nationwide, from Okitikpupa to Sokoto, from Enugu to Maiduguri, the beauty of the UPU then was not its size, but the shade and comfort it provided for all Urhobos. It is that UPU i intend to resurrect as the legacy of the founding fathers must continue. The Urhobo College must father an Urhobo University under my watch. Yes, it’s achievable. Lastly, mention must be made of the progressive encroachment of the territorial boundaries of the Urhobo land. Even in my life time the “Jackson Line” that demarcated Urhoboland in Oghara has been ignored leadng to the repositioning of Ajagbodudu. Today Ogbolokposo in Uvwie is under contention, the boundaries of Ubeji is yet to be finally resolved. But for the vgorous stand of the UPU took in early 1940s, Sapele a major Urhobo trading hub in Okpe would have been lost.
Finally, if given the opportunity to serve, the beginning of our progress is reunification of Urhobos, the fifth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria. That is my first priority, for only then, can anyone have the audacity to initiate and demand progress from this federation called Nigeria.
Chief Dr. Thomas Edogbeji Akpomudiare Salubi