Ahead of Delta 2023 governorship election, the Okpe Union, the social-cultural body of all Okpe sons and daughters on Sunday insisted on its agitation that Okpe be recognized as a distinct ethnic nationality in Nigeria, noting that they are not Urhobo.
The Union which was reacting to an open letter to the Delta State governor by Udogun Okpe described it as shocking and best features as ‘a person cutting his nose to spite his face.
They maintained that Okpe was not a sub-group or a clan of any other ethnic nationality, adding that the letter by the Udogun Okpe has brought the Okpe Kingdom to global ridicule.
In a communiqué of the Okpe Union from an emergency meeting of the national executive council, held on July 15 and 17, 2021, the union vowed to intensify its sensitization activities in Okpe Nation regarding the fact that Okpe is a distinct ethnic nationality as well as the benefits of recognizing Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality.
The communiqué which was signed by the Okpe Union President General, Professor Igho Natufe and General Secretary, Barrister Akpederin Kingsley reads in part, ‘’NEC shall continue its liaison with the Government of His Excellency, Senator Dr Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa and the Delta State House of Assembly for the restatement and recognition of Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality. The attainment of Okpe Identity is a sacred historical mission of the Okpe Union.’’
The union while referencing a Keynote Address at the 3rd AGM of the Okpe Union of North America on September 1, 2007, at College Park, MD, USA by the Okpe monarch, urged him to reconcile his present position with the position he brilliantly espoused in defence of Okpe Identity in the past.
It noted that his activities have helped tremendously to positively define, sustain and advance the place as well as the interest of Okpe in the comity of Nigerian nationalities.
The angry Okpe leaders said the Okpe Union was registered to function with an unambiguous constitution.
It held that ‘’The Okpe Union has the highest respect for the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom. The Okpe Union affirms that the Udogun Okpe is the apex Traditional Council of Okpe Kingdom. The Okpe Union is the apex Socio-cultural organization and membership-based organ of all Okpe, legally registered to so function with an unambiguous constitution. Okpe Union shall continue to execute this function in Okpe Nation across all the 13 Districts. The registered office of the Okpe Union is No. 67 (new No. 65), Moshalashi Street, Ikoyi, Lagos. This secretariat building of the Okpe Union named “Okpe House”, Obalende, Lagos is the property of the Okpe Union and the fact that it is the registered office of the Okpe Union can be verified with the Corporate Affairs Commission. It is true that the Union had in principle agreed to build a befitting headquarters in Okpeland, which is still a work in progress’’.
The Okpe Union leaders declared that ‘’the dissolution decree of October 3, 2020, is a breach of the sacred history of unbroken democratic transition in the Okpe Union in the over 91(ninety-one) years of existence and an unconstitutional action by the Orodje to convert the Okpe Union into an administrative arm of the Palace’’.
‘’The October 3, 2020, purported dissolution of the democratically elected leadership of the Okpe Union and banning of NEC members from contesting elective positions by HRM, Orhue 1, the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom is ultra vires and a violation of the Okpe Union Constitution’’
‘’As a legal entity, the procedure for dissolution or removal of any elected official of the Okpe Union and election of a National Executive Council of the Union is clearly provided for in its constitution.
Therefore, any action by any person or group of persons purporting to remove or dissolve the democratically elected Okpe Union leadership outside the provisions of its Constitution is not binding, void and of no effect whatsoever’’.
The union condemned the attempt to return to the deceased concept of the divine rights