Chief Joe Omene, is the President General the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU is a social cultural organization, in this interview with Ovasa Ogaga, he spoke on what will form the position that the Urhobo nation may take in the 2019 election, saying that if the APC shortchange Ogboru, during the party primaries, Urhobo will not support the part:
Though the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU is a social cultural organization, it’s also a fact that no nation can survive without taking interest in politics; ahead of 2019 governorship election in Delta State a prominent Urhobo son, Chief Great Ogboru may likely be in the ballot, What will be the position of the UPU Ogboru is given the APC ticket?
Before a union is formed, the founders of such union have their own aims and objectives of forming the union. UPU is about Urhobo progress. How do you achieve this progress? You cannot achieve progress without involving yourself in activities that will bring about that progress. And when you look at the UPU Constitution, it’s to bring about progress to the Urhobo people and in doing so, it could be economically, socially and politically. When you look at Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), you cannot separate that union from politics, because if the government wants to come out with policies for the country for next year, they have their interest there. They will go and lobby the government to make sure those policies is something that will bring about benefits for the Manufacturers in the country. So, if you say you are manufacturers, and government is trying to come up with a law and you don’t show interest, you will fail. So, if the UPU is there and election is taking place and you don’t make sure the interest of the Urhobo people is protected, you have also failed. So, UPU is not only social- economical, it is also political, the only difference is that the UPU doesn’t belong to a particular political party, the UPU is for all parties. But if a particular party is seen to be working with the UPU for the progress of the Urhobo nation, UPU will embrace it. As it is today, UPU is apolitical in the sense that, if a member or President comes and discuss what will be of benefit to the Urhobo nation, or a party governorship candidate is prepare to work and make sure that the interest of the Urhobo is not thrown overboard if he wins, UPU will embrace it.
However, this is also depend on who is contesting, we have some patriotic Urhobo sons and daughters in PDP, we have some also in APC, so when it comes to some particular position; you will see the Urhobo contesting for Senate, House of Rep and others, we can’t take position on that. But in a case where Urhobo is contesting against a non Urhobo for a position, then UPU will take position to ensure that Urhobo nation is not shortchange. Especially if the non-Urhobo is unable to convince us at the UPU level that in event that he wins, he will protect the interest of the Urhobo. We will not have anything to do with such person. Because no Urhobo man will be in place and not work towards the progress of his ethnic group, his conscience will not allow him. But in supporting an Urhobo son, it is mainly going to be on how patriotic is that person to Urhobo course.
Back your question, he is one of our children, the UPU will not behave like the Urhobo kings, when the show have not started, campaign have not even started Urhobo kings gathered in one place and say they have endorsed the incumbent governor and we have Urhobo children who are interested in the same position. Now you have endorsed the incumbent governor who is from Delta North, then an assuming an Urhobo son is able to make in the election. How are you going to look at him in the face? It’s shameful. So, if you want to dance and break your leg when the show have not started that is their business, the action of the kings is uncalled for, even if they are to endorse anybody; they should have waited to know the participants. As for UPU we are watching the situation, we want to know who is coming out from each party and asses them, after the assessment and consultation, that is when the UPU will come out to make an pronouncement to state its position both at the state and federal level.
In the build up to 2015 elections, the UPU made efforts to reach out to other ethnic groups in Delta state to build bridge of unity. Did your efforts yield any result to down play the fear of Urhobo dominance by other ethnic groups in the state.
Before the last election in 2015, there’s nothing we didn’t do to make sure we achieve something for the Urhobo nation. UPU executive met several people like the Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, Itsekiri leaders of thought, the Isoko leaders, to assure them that we are one. The system today, the way politics is been played is different from that of 2015. So we are waiting to know what the whole game will be like. If peradventure an Urhobo comes out to be the governorship candidate, he will first and foremost come to discuss with the Urhobo nation, if the governorship candidate of other parties who are non-Urhobo fail to come to the UPU, it becomes obvious that the person does not mean well for the Urhobo nation. But if a non-Urhobo candidate is able to dialogue with the UPU, we will look at what the stakes are. If you want someone to vote for you, you need to convince the person.
Is there faction in the UPU?
Sometimes people talk of factions, there is no faction in UPU. A non-Urhobo cannot be President General of the Urhobo nation. Let me repeat it here again, if Olorogun Moses Taiga says he’s an Urhobo man and not an Ijaw man let him come out to say I am Olorogun Moses Taiga, I am not an Ijaw man, and my father is not Ijaw. He shouldn’t speak through someone, if you ask me now Chief Engr Joe Omene are you an Urhobo man, are you not an Itsekiri?, I will tell you am not Itsekiri or any other tribes, I will tell you am an Urhobo man. But if anyone comes to claim on social media that Chief Omene is an Ijaw man or any other tribe and I don’t come out to say anything about it, silence is an acceptance, he is a self confessed Ijaw man. It is only the fatherless Urhobo that will go to embrace him as the father of the Urhobo nation, because if you don’t know your father, you adopt anybody you see. If you know your father you won’t adopt anybody you see, you could be a king, a general or a Senior Advocate, any Urhobo man if you adopt an Ijaw person as your President General, it means you don’t know yourself. And if he says he not an Ijaw, let him come out publicly to say it. I challenge him, he cannot come out and say his father is not an Ijaw man and if your father is an Ijaw man, you are an Ijaw native. Some people say it does not matter; it matters a lot, because no ethnic nation is ruled by a non indigene. It is not a political position, it’s a traditional position. We have prominent Urhobos as Professors, top lawyer, generals, and media owners, yet Urhobo kings says they have gone round and didn’t’ see any Urhobo to endorse as UPU PG but an Ijaw man. It’s an aberration. They came out to say they are custodians of custom and tradition, I just laugh at them, are they protecting the interest of the Urhobo nation with what they are doing. If the government is doing any road or party, our Kings are the first to be there. Recently a politician gathered them to the villa, in order to spite me he went and carry an Ijaw man as President General. You can see the mockery, the way they received them, when I went to the villa, apart from the group discussion with the President, he granted me private audience and after that visit. I had the publication on the media and it was recorded. If you look at the way they were treated in the villa and the way the Isoko nation was treated, you will see the difference, which will tell you the level they have brought the Urhobo nation to.
Some political observers in the state believe that during Ibori’s tenure as the governor of Delta state, the development of the state was even, but that cannot be said of the present government. What is your take on this?
A good question, the Urhobo man is not selfish and greedy that is why, that why the Ibori administration is still the best in this state, in the sense that when you compare that administration with today’s, you will see the past governors after did not govern as governor of the whole state. They govern as governors of their own ethnic group, development and appointment is not even. Our people say that you give name to a deaf and dumb to recognize him, not because he can answer you when you call him. When you look at the governor of today, you will see the highest number of SAs in the State. Where a government commission, younger brother of the governor have the right to slap the Secretary to the State Governor, people said it serves him right, did you see any Urhobo condom that act, coming to ask questions on why it shouldn’t happen? If he was a patriotic Urhobo people would have condemned that act, because he is a puppet people kept quiet, it should not have been so. Its unimaginable slapping the SSG and nothing happens. Assuming there are even developments, no one will be clamoring for any governor in the coming election. When the second tenure of Ibori came, people supported him for a second tenure, if Ibori was governing and benefitting only his people, they wouldn’t have supported him. Sometime people talk about fairness and equity, Delta south and Central had it for 8 years, why can’t they have it for 8 years for or fairness and equity. So I ask this question, what is fairness and equity? Does Asaba deserve to be the state capital of Delta State? In moving federal capital to Abuja, the reason government gave at that time was for nearness to everyone, that the reason they centralized it, and in most state of the country, they brought the capital from the tip of the state to centre. They move Lagos state capital for Lagos Island to Ikeja. They move the capital of Nigeria from Lagos to Abuja but in the case of Delta state, it was done that way and the people did not say anything about it. They would have said for equity let’s have three capitals, one in Delta, one in Delta central and the other in Delta north. If you want to pursue fairness and equity, the state capital is enough for Delta north, then the governorship should be between south and central or they move the state capital to Delta central or Delta south and retain the governorship.
Sir you said UPU will be watching, if the event of 2014 replays itself, what will be UPU position? Assuming Ogboru emerges as APC candidate will UPU support him?
If Ogboru emerges as APC governorship candidate, he will come to UPU first, we will not just say we are supporting Ogboru, he will come to tell us, what he wants to do, our position is going to be in his government, and he should be able to convince us. On the other hand, if the governorship candidate of PDP should to come to us and talk to us and not go to an Ijaw man, but if he comes to UPU and confined in us, of what Urhobos benefit will be in his government and putting the two on scale we shall then take a position. But the moment a governorship candidate goes to an Ijaw man in the name of Urhobo. We will not support him. And if there’s manipulate of the primaries to make sure Urhobo is shortchanged or manipulated to support someone from Delta north. UPU will not support that candidate, rather UPU will vote for the incumbent. You see the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know. Because this present devil will go after four years, then the other angels we don’t know have the options of 8 years and others. So we are watching.
But if an Urhobo man emerges as APC governorship candidate and the incumbent is there, both of them should now convince us while we should support one of them. But if APC manipulate its primaries against Urhobo we will not support them both at State and Federal level.