Tuesday, October 8, 2013

WILL URHOBOS HIT OR MISS...AGAIN....Are there lessons to learn from our Itsekiri neighbours? By Ena Ofugara



The Portuguese like Henry The Navigator arrive the shores of West Africa. The Itsekiris like "King" Nana embraces the Portuguese. They open their arms... and legs to them and we have the Itsekiri "potokri" (mulattoes/Half Castes) children as evidence of embrace.

 The Urhobos do not.

The Itsekiris become the true allies of the Portuguese and one of their King, Dom Domingoes even goes on to be one of the first Kings ever to become a College graduate in West Africa.

The effects of this Itsekiri embrace of the Portuguese and Urhobo snub can be seen by the early dominance of Itsekiri traders like King Nana and Dore Numa....a dominance that made Nana consider himself a King of all the people's in that area including the Itsekiris when he was not.

The Urhobos miss out.

17th Century

Royal Niger Company (later UAC)

They arrive. Itsekiris embrace the British, Urhobos do not. King Nana does not. He is defeated and Itsekiris flee to Sapele and environs but maintain loyalty to the Olu's throne unlike Urhobos who would have immediately become clans and Kings in new lands.

Itsekiris also quickly rally and support the British, not minding the overthrow of their usurper King Nana. Dore Numa springs forth and becomes the new Nana and claims yet again to be King and leader of all tribes in the region and British indeed recognizes him as such.

This embrace by Dore Numa and his forebears lead to  Itsekiris being middlemen to Urhobo farming produce, making all the moneys from Urhobo enterprise of oil production and Urhobos in protest started cheating on the oil in protest of the exploitation and thus earning the name "Urhobo way oh" now known as "urhobo wayo" a derogatory reference to Urhobos as cheats.

The Itsekiris won and become somewhat overlords acting even as middlemen for selling of Urhobos as slaves to the British.

Again the Urhobos miss

Pre Independence Politics

Awolowo, is Premier of the Western Region and the Urhobo Nation is in the then Western Region. Thus they are under Awolowo.
Itsekiris like Rewane immediately align with Awolowo and had even employed him as their lawyer in the land cases against Urhobos.
Urhobos do not align with Awolowo nor The Action Group.


Awolowo as Premier then punishes Urhobos and declares The Olu of Warri, who is at best only a leader of his people the Itsekiris, the paramount ruler of the whole of Warri and labels him Olu of Warri from The Olu of Itsekiri which the British saw him as and which he was.

Again the Urhobos miss in their political calculations.

 The very Festus Okotie-Eboh and his immense wealth and  his NCNC  as led by Nnamdi Azikiwe whom they supported, betrayed them as Okotie-Eboh aligned with his Itsekiri lineage and thus solidified the Itsekiri hold on the political headship of the region.

Once again the Urhobos Miss

1979. Second Republic.

Urhobos decide to support the UPN which is Awolowo's party but choose to support Michael Ibru ahead of Ambrose Ali in the party primaries.
Ambrose Ali emerges as Governor of the Bendel State and decides instead of elevating the College of Education Abraka to a University, he instead builds a University from the scratch in his village Ekpoma then called BENSU (Bendel State University now Ambrose Ali University AAU) and why not? Why reward the Urhobos who chose their own Ibru? He too will choose his Ekpoma.


Urhobos punish Ambrose Ali and choose Samuel Ogbemudia. Then comes Buhari and his coup and Urhobos do not benefit from the political decision
This is a stalemate. Not a hit, not a miss.

1991. State Creation.

The Urhobos have their own state and are now able to assert some sort of superiority over her Itsekiri neighbour who no longer have Awolowo, nor the Oba of Benin's influence to keep the Olu as the most superior paramount ruler of the state. The Olu was second only to the Oba and was considered a first class traditional sovereign. Ordinarily this should have put him as head of traditional rulers of Delta state but with the creation of Delta, the Okpes realise they are the number one in population of a single people and as such the Orodje of Okpe was the first chairman of the council.

The Urhobos HIT for the first time.

it must be noted that Asaba being made Capital as against Sapele which was once considered to be Bendel State Capital back then, narrowly losing to Benin City, or Abraka which is in the very middle of the state and even Warri with its large Urhobo population, was viewed by Urhobos as a loss.
They made so much noise about it.
However, Miriam Babangida, the rumoured reason for the choice of Asaba as capital did not put this to heart and even encouraged the local gin production by Urhobos with her presence Under her project Better Life For Rural Women.

She was just magnanimous else it would have been a miss as the Urhobo opposition did not factor we were in a military administration and there was nothing we could do to change such decisions.

Stalemate....no MISS

1991 Third Republic

And with Urhobos having by far the highest population of a single group, the Governorship was theirs for the taking.
Itsekiris like Omamuli had no chance. NO WAY. The Itsekiri population was too few at less than a million to the Urhobo over four million.

But again, even with it being an Urhobo vs Urhobo primaries in SDP, Urhobos managed to bungle it by choosing Ighovojah ahead of Felix Ibru. It took some National presence of Kingibe and other SDP leadership to overturn a clear win for an unknown Ighovojah. AMAZING!!!

And even during the elections proper, Opiah of NRC might have sprung a few surprises but for Akpeki's role in the Ijaw communities of Patani and Burutu.

Of course Olorogun Felix Ibru remembers. He rules Delta State but is not as Urhobo-centric as many would have wanted as he knew his support-base was not his own Urhobos who chose his brother, Michael's former staff ahead of him.

Well the third Republic was truncated and well....

1999. Fourth Republic

A certain young man with immense wealth and military backing comes to become governor. Urhobos sneer at him, wondering the source of his stupendous wealth, but above all CALLING HIM ITSEKIRI when they very well knew he was an Oghara boy.
Sapele and many Urhobo towns do not vote for him, choosing Engineer Kragha. Even the Urhobo Progressive Union chooses Kragha.
Ibori wins. Sapele, perhaps the Urhobos most proud town and venue of all PDP activities is punished by James Onanefe Ibori with zero developments.
Yes, he could not believe that a sister town to his Oghara like Sapele could treat him so.


And Urhobo favourite son Ogboru runs against James Ibori. Urhobos suddenly see a "real Urhobo" unlike James "Jolomi" Ibori an Itsekiri (silly viewpoint) and vote Ogboru en masse and if not for what many believe to be serious electoral fraud, Ogboru would have defeated Ibori.

Ibori did not forgive many Urhobo towns again Sapele and Abraka leading the zero development.

Again Urhobos misses in many ways.

Also note that Urhobos joined Ibori's opponents and wanted him removed from office when it was alleged (now we know rightly so) that he was an ex convict.
Many however said to Urhobos that it was because of Ibori and Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa's call for resource control or at least 50 percent derivation which would have given Delta State huge monies for development.
Ibori capitulated especially as Alamieseigha was successfully removed from office.
Ibori immediate became Obasanjo's wallet, making him spend an alleged 6 billion to get Yar'Adua elected to president.
Ibori never forgave many Urhobos yet again.

Urhobos miss again in many ways

Ibori develops Oghare, putting a Polytechnic, and a standard hospital as well as tarring the streets and street lights and making millionaires of many Oghara and Mosogar people.

Urhobos hit...at least a town even as Sapele, Abraka etc people suffer neglect

Urhobos hit and miss somewhat

Now check the brilliant Itsekiris.

 My year two law lecturer Prof Itse sagay writes in the Vanguard or Guardian (I think Guardian)  that Itsekiris must stop the bickering with the Urhobos as they have no chance of being governor and must align.

Itsekiris, listening to that voice of reason support Ibori and they enjoy his administration throughout....even leading to his handing over to an Itsekiri Uduaghan.

Today, check if you will see any Itsekiri call Ibori a thief. THEY REFRAIN. Young Itsekiris like Amaju Edema-Eyen amongst many still call Ibori "leader", not caring if Ibori developed Oghara more than Ode Itsekiri.

Urhobos on the other hand call him a thief and that he developed only Oghara. WHICH ONE DID IBRU DEVELOP? Is Oghara not Urhoboland??? Must it be your village???

Yet only Oghara and Mosogar people really defend Ibori.

Very stupidly, Urhobos still consider him "Itsekiri" saying that JOLOMI is his real name. That he was Itsekiri Students president in Uniben while he was there.

How they fail to see the amount of millionaires of Urhobo descent and the many roads in Uvwie (the very place that took over a radio station and announced Ogboru as winner) and other places, beats my imagination.

Ibori stole Delta State money and or misappropriated same to install Yar"Adua and so Urhobos are understandably angry. But is there a governor in Nigeria that is not a thief? Did Odili, and even that Yar"Adua not steal their state monies? Did they throw them under the bus? HOW ABOUT TINUBU? Are Deltans more "aware" than the Lagosian? Has Tinubu not stolen a lot more than Ibori, even sacking College of education and using the land as personal property. Add a nursing hostel to that....add so much more and Urhobos throw an Ibori that is BUILDING UNIVERSITIES, not sacking them, under a bus.

I can never support embezzlement and I join to condemn Ibori but I am writing to show just how different Urhobos are from others and why we suffer neglect as compared to others.

Again Hausas demanded the stopping of prosecution of two of their sons El Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu.....(people who had run away just like Ibori for huge theft), they demanded their freedom from prosecution from Goodluck Jonathan before they can vote GEJ. They did not care if they were in PDP or ACN or CPC. All they said was RELEASE OUR SONS and GEJ had to oblige. Did Urhobos make such demands of GEJ for Ibori or Urhobos danced and jubilated, believing now his power will diminish and they can rise to power?

GEJ would have called Dubai and Dubai would have released Ibori to him and not to London.

So while Nuhu Ribadu and El Rufai continue to be Hausa/Fulani Muslim voices, the only son of Urhobo of the ruling generation is locked away in prison in London when GEJ could have threatened Dubai to release him to Nigeria and rightly so. Instead Urhobo's frontline son, the Odidikpoikpoi languishes in a British gaol and Urhobos have no one of National clout to argue out her case

I say MISS. (you can say hit if you like)


Emmanuel Uduaghan, a man who speaks better Urhobo than Itsekiri and who grew up amongst Urhobos and considers them brothers is chosen by Ibori to replace him.

Urhobos believe the governorship is their birthright and forget that sometimes alliances and political exigencies must make you allow for a movement of power from your tribe.

Uduaghan that could have been turned to a surrogate Urhobo governor is turned into an enemy and aside from Ethiope LGA where we even believe his win is from rigging, URHOBOS THREW HIM AWAY AND VOTED OGBORU.

Uduaghan and Michael Ejele Diden and Ayiri and EVEN IJAWS WHOM THEY JUST FOUGHT IN A WAR, the Orubebe's read the times they magically bring out "mammywater" votes from the riverine areas and Urhobos go with EK Clerk.

Uduaghan wins and instead of Urhobo leadership to go to him and make the peace and negotiate development for Urhobo areas, they cling on to hopes of court cases, forgetting PDP will never agree to lose Delta State and her huge oil deposits.

Urhobos scream "rigging, cheating, wayo" like they do not know the country they are from. In fact, they fail to even see that American elections like Nixon vs John F Kennedy and Bush vs Al Gore where all rigged and that life is Machiavellian..."the end justifies the means".

I laugh at Urhobos because we all know that the riverine areas will dictate the elections and it did 3 times. COME ON GUYS!!! DID WE NOT KNOW KOKO ETC WILL DICTATE THE RESULT OF THE ELECTIONS??? Have we become so intentionally amnesiac? Is it not what won it for Ibru against Opia? Will it not also win it is 2015? Why are we deluding ourselves?

GREAT MISS (pun on word "Great" intended)

Just take the last paragraph. We repeated same moves and had same result.


Ewherido vs Amori

And Urhobos choose the Pineapple  over an Umbrella that covers the whole of the nation except a few places in the West, North and Anambra.

Now here is Amori, a very wily creature and Ibori's backbone and reason for victory. Here is a man that with Urhobo support would have been a National force by now. Here is a man with the requisite evil nature that survives Nigerian politics and Urhobos neglect such a crocodile that would compete in the shark-infested Abuja waters, and we sent a dolphin in Pius Ewherido....what a loveable Dolphin. I loved him. Urhobos loved him...but he was a dolphin amidst sharks.

Why Urhobos would send a DPP candidate in a PDP Nigeria, in a democracy that is all about "PARTYsan" (partisan) politics, I cannot fathom.

And here is the benign super-nice Dolphin Pius Ewherido and he is totally unable to head any real committees, influence appointment of Urhobos into juicy positions, push the PIB Bill as he belongs to no powerful caucus etc by reason of party. "Person pikin never chop, make dem give stranger pikin?" I can hear PDP people say about Pius Ewherido

Now the Dolphin saw he was powerless and decided to join a party that would give him some solid foundation on which to stand and be able to represent Urhobos. PDP had no space so he chose to go under the party of a worse thief than Ibori (Tinubu) and a tribal/religious and regional zealot (Buhari) who has never commiserated with any family of slain Deltans...many as they are and instead threatening worse.

But Ewherido knew he could not go to PDP and needs something stronger than a slippery pineapple to stand on.

But again the Urhobo representative chose a party that is anti the government in power. A PARTY THAT WILL NEVER WIN THE PRESIDENCY in a PDP Nigeria.

So again, just like pre 1960, Urhobos are choosing to be in opposition, refusing to support the ruling party in their state and country AND THEY EXPECT DEVELOPMENT and appointment. How is that possible?

Should we hold lectures to teach Urhobos that democracy is "winner takes all"? That if you lose, you have YOUR SAY (worthless say) while the winner has his way?

Why will not Uduaghan say Michael Ejele, a former chairman of Koko is suddenly Urhobo so as to have him and Ayiri Emami and the Ijaw Tompolo as the 3 leaders of pipeline jobs? Why will he not now hand Ejele all  what is going to the Urhobos when he is the one who orchestrated Uduaghan's victory? Why would the Urhobos not be left with the crumbs?

Why would GEJ listen to an Ewherido that cannot help him pass a bill or rally support for the PIB as the ONLY DPP SENATOR?

Why would Urhobos knowing at state level they did not pick the winner and at National level they sent a member of a near-non-existent party as their rep expect anything?


And Urhobos shouted at the snub and GEJ heard it and chose an Urhobo great in Patrick Aziza to come and help restructure PDP as an elder.

This places Aziza right there with Anenih, Babangida, etc. This means he would have a say as to whom is chosen as a minister, judge etc but Aziza turns it down and many Urhobo voices for selfish partisan reasons....SELFISH PARTISAN REASONS prefer our retired General Aziza to remain provincial just like our respected Orodje Mujakperuo.

Now two of our foremost sons who like David Mark and babangida and Obasanjo and Oyinola and Theophilus danjuma have a background in the army....while the others continue to politic on behalf of their tribes, regions and peoples, ours are "Orodje" and UPU president or is it governor general???

Can we not beg one, especially now that we have no one to stand in the space for Urhobos, can we not second Aziza to stand in that stead and speak in our interest?

But Urhobos, with their "clan spirit". "My egodo (compound) attitude" divisive to say the least and  "I fit do am. I no get oga. I be my own oga. them done old, give another person chance" thinking/spirit refuse to see that NO ONE AT THIS TIME COMPARES TO AZIZA's CLOUT.

They do not see that older Anenih and Tinubu etc are representing their people. Urhobos??? NOOOOO. Aziza is TOOOOO OLDDDDDDDD. Mtchewwwwwwwww.

And so Urhobos will miss a chance at being top of the food chain and Aziza will be strolling to Orerokpe to hang with our Orodje while Abuja cries for use of his pedigree.


2015. (The future)

Urhobos already are divided into two parties DPP and ACF and knowing Urhobos, THEY WILL VOTE URHOBO.

The movement to allow power move to the North will enter through one ear and exit the other.

Urhobos will not know that should Itsekiris and Ijaws agree to allow power move to Anioma, should Urhobos be absent from that agreement, THAT IS THE END OF URHOBO GOVERNORSHIP FOR TWENTY FOUR YEARS.

Yes 24 years because Anioma will hand it to Ijaw and Ijaw back to Itsekiri and Urhobos/Isokos will be left in the lurch as we are not majority enough to withstand the force of a united minority....same treatment I have advocated to be given Hausa/Fulani in Nigerian politics with their born-to-rule ideology.

Yes look at the Delta State map and population figures, URHOBOS AND ISOKOS CANNOT GO IT ALONE....that is even if Urhobos will allow Isokos be governor even and if Solomon Ogba does not take Isokos to join the alliance against a closed-to-political-reasoning/reality Urhobos.

Now check out the Itsekiris.
1. They align with Ijaws who just sacked and killed them in a war (Itsekiris fought the fourth most populous ethnic group and Ijaws from all over united on their account. There is no way to avoid Itsekiris getting a hiding/beating from such a populous people.) for Uduaghan's election

2. They put the idiocy of the war aside and support GEJ. Seriously, read Itsekiri men and women on facebook and see if they ever criticise GEJ. NO!!! They are silent at worst.
These brilliant neighbours of Urhobos know their political fortune in Delta State, Goodluck Jonathan may be the one to decide.  So they let bygones be bygones and support THE POWER OF TODAYYYYYY not tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself. BRILLIANCE.

3. They forgive GEJ for Ibori.

Indeed, I shake my head at such small-mindedness of Urhobos who do not learn from history that men have aligned with people who killed their sons...all of them. That personal  interest takes precedence over some held grudges.

4. They will not contest in 2015. They will align with Delta North and Ijaws and defeat Urhobos in 2015. Urhobos on the other hand will try to perpetuate themselves in office as if only Urhobos exist in Delta State.


The very present.

Urhobos have presented 3 very credible candidates. I AM PROUD OF US. Chief Emmanuel Aguariavwodo of PDP is an excellent man whose love for Urhobo know no bounds and Ede Dafinone, son to a former senator and Okpe Chief and whose family is in Guinness Book of Records as being All Chartered Accountants and of course O'Tega Emerhor, a seasoned player in Nigeria's finance sector.

Those who follow me on facebook know the scathing comment I made on Napoleon Gbinijie and thus know I take who represents me as an Urhobo seriously. I cut him to size because the Urhobo Nation must put her best feet forward especially NOW.

Again all three candidates are a joy to behold and I congratulate Urhobos on their excellent choice. WE ARE SPOILED FOR CHOICE.

However, come saturday, Urhobos must look beyond personalities as all 3 are qualified and look at the Urhobo very existence and relevance.

If we want to be away from the mainstream and go over the same circumstances and powerlessness Ewherido experienced, then by all means let us vote Ede Dafinone. He is a fantastic young man I hear...our oyibo pepper.

If we want to be a "powerful opposition" and give PDP heat. If we believe APC with Buhari and Tinubu is a better alternative to our own neighbour the Ijaw GEJ, by all means let us vote Emerhor. I mean APC tablet used to cure headache back then right? maybe he will join Buhari to cure us of PDP and GEJ.

Indeed Urhobos can take their chances with the opposition and who knows, a miracle can happen and PDP who are conducting elections in a very fraudulent Nigeria and who have the requisite National spread and finance and who are like a confraternity where people never are able to leave as they always settle just before elections...if we believe the "owners of Nigeria" like Babangida will rather have Buhari than GEJ, then we should go ahead and vote Emerhor. HE IS SUPER QUALITY. Was he not the one that donated 110 million (one hundred and ten million) naira to UPU?

But if Urhobo nation is tired of being sidekicks in this Federal arrangement. If we want a man that can whisper in the ear of the president. If we want a man that Obasanjo and everyone respects. If we want to do the big deals and seamlessly, then we must find our way back to the PDP and the mainstream.

Indeed the choice is clear.


May God grant us the political savviness and wisdom to CHOOSE WITH OUR HEADS NOT WITH OUR HEARTS.

MAY WE HIT THIS TIME and not MISS yet again