By Ovasa Ogaga
THE year 2015 would be remembered for a long time for many reasons. The year would be indelible in the minds of the Urhobo people as a year of missed opportunity. After eight years in political wilderness, 2015 was to be the year Urhobo regain political leadership but it was not to be. The year was characterized by high wired political horse trading and intrigues that would for years hunt and hurt the Urhobo nation.
Despite having a very good chance to regain political control in Delta state, Urhobo political gladiators failed to seize the opportunity. Rather, they pursued personal interest and abandoned the overall political goal set by its leadership by exploiting the lack of collective patriotism among its people.
As in the past, Urhobo nation was caught napping in the political arena, when the forces that have sworn to perpetually hold her down, launched their attack again. And like 2007, the Urhobo nation, in spite of its demographic strength, could not succeed in its quest to bring change to Delta state. Again, Urhobo failed to speak with one voice and the result is the continuing hold on power by those who have consistently raped her and made her to bleed to death while they loot her heritage.
The year 2015 was when all the value we hold dear as Urhobo people were under assault by our very own people and leaders who preferred to line their licking pockets and belly than fight for the common interest. It was a year that exposed the perfidy of our once reverend Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) leadership, as an assemblage of mere men who were preoccupied shouting to gain attention. While the leadership of the Anioma people were busy putting the bricks and blocks that eventually took one of their own to the government house at Asaba, Urhobos were busy drinking tea and out-smarting one another, creating divisions that eventually led to the balkanization of a fractured house, which eventually collapsed.
In the year 2015, the Urhobo nation needed leaders and leadership to galvanise her resources towards the achieving its political goal. But what we had were charlatans who did not understand the task before them.
It was not supposed to be so. It was mother luck that dealt a big blow on her which made her to kiss the canvas. That was when death took unannounced, late. Gen. Patrick Aziza, the then President General of UPU; in Aziza, we had a general who was Ready, Willing and Able to defend the Urhobo honour and pride. His demise, as many feared then turned out to be a fatal blow from which we never recovered.
What followed after Aziza’s dealth was more of a political gymnastic, and is better left for students of history. Urhobo nation thereafter became a place where all manners of people, including our youths and sadly our reverend Ivie were prepared to destroy everything we cherish as a people, including our self-worth to promote their individual political and economic interest, to the detriment of the collective interest of the Urhobo people as a nation. The Urhobo nation and its leadership failed to heed the advice of Martin Luther King, when he warned that; “we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as a nation of fools.”
Nelson Mandela, a great African patriot stated that, “as a leader there are times when you must move out ahead of the flocks, go off in new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way”. A US Congressman, John Breademas posited on leadership by summing it up in two words as; “Intelligence and Integrity or two synonyms Competence and Character.”
Obviously these essential qualities of leadership were lacking in the men that fate threw at us at such a critical period as the year 2015. These were however, the qualities that the Asagba of Asaba showcased and deployed to promote Anioma agenda. While the Asagba never hesitated to politely insist that it was the turn of Anioma to produce the governor of Delta state, our Ivie were signing in discordant tunes. Some were even at the forefront of the campaigns of candidates of Delta North and South, out of consideration for kola wedge.
Because of this obvious lack of tact, intelligence, integrity, competence, and character; our leaders led the Urhobo nation into a landmine in a sunny day with their eyes wide open. Against all known conventional rule of engagement in political re-engineering, the UPU shelved its responsibility and outsourced the most important decision of 2015 to a known enemy of Urhobo nation, who had sworn to bring the Urhobo nation to her kneel by starving the Urhobo political class under his watch to submission. The resultant effect is that the Urhobo nation then went to an epic battle in the PDP governorship primary with a cliff footed solder that is not familiar with the troops or the language to win the war, as the Urhobo war general. Urhobo foes within even ensured that he lost out. Despite the huge support from the Urhobo and Isoko, he was roundly beaten there and then, and the Urhobo nation lost out in the quest to occupy the Osadebe House. Chief David Edevbie, a pun of the former governor, Emmanuel Udughan whom Urhobo supported in race for PDP ticket later campaigned against Urhobo candidates in the general election. Edevbie was later compensated with the commissionership position. The question the Urhobo nation should be asking Edevbie is why contests for governor when your ambition is to become a commissioner?
In going forward, we must as a matter of self preservation, reinvent the Urhobo spirit and lift our youths from the social economic squalor which they have now found themselves. This is the only way we can avoid the looming rebellion of the belly which is currently ravaging the entire Urhobo nation and prevent turning the army of unemployed and unemployable Urhobo youth from self distrust.
In doing that, our leaders; be it the political class, the UPU and our monarchs must put away the quest for stomach infrastructure, and rededicate themselves to the service of the Urhobo nation. This will make the Urhobo nation currently prostrating following the years of consistent raping by those she haboured and nurtured as adopted children, to get back to her feet.
Let’s not forget the words of an Urhobo sage, Chief Mukoro Mowoe of blessed memory seventy years ago. In 1946, while speaking to the Urhobo people on the need to stand up and be counted in matters that affects the Urhobo nation, the late sage stated that; “My belief is that every being born into the world has a duty to perform to his people: either to the village he or she belongs or to the town or country as a whole…Frankly speaking, anyone of you who should fail to play his or her part for the upliftment of our dear tribe, (URHOBO) it were better that he or she had not been born.” This should be the new spirit among the youths, politicians, UPU executives and our monarchs. Anything short of these would be suicidal.
And as we aptly observed, the year 2015 may not have been very rosy for the Urhobo nation collectively; in terms of the political misfortune that was unleashed on her, by her own people, who would rather become a slave in a king’s palace than to be a freeborn in their kingdom. However, there are so many individuals who stood out and defended the Urhobo honour even at the risk of their lives, they all may not have been perfect in their pursuits of the Urhobo common good, nevertheless they played a major role in reshaping the political destiny of the Urhobo nation in the years to come and we would have failed in our duty; if we fail not to acknowledge the modest contributions of these great Urhobo sons as Urhobo Heroes and Champions in 2015. There are also some who in their usual treacheries choose to stay in the camp of the Urhobos enemy for their belly seek, these treacherous characters would also be vilified for the ignoble role they played in the pushing Urhobo into political slavery.
Among those that made it to the Urhobo Row of Honour in the political turf in 2015 are: Chief Great Ogboru, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, Obaisi (Barr.) Ovie Omo-Agege, Chief Joe Omene, Chief Tuesday Onoge, and leading the pack of villains are: Chief Ighoyota Amori, Hon. Erhiatake Ibori, Chief David Edevbie and the PDP sellouts.
CHIEF GREAT OGBORU: A HERO AND SYMBOL OF HOPE IN 2015
Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru undoubtedly had remained the symbol of the Urhobo struggle to liberate itself and Delta State from the iron fist of Ibori ravaging political vampires supplanted into our political and public life, by the instrumentation of craze imposition and suppression of the collective will of Deltans to freely choose who to lead them in all levels of governance since 1999 when the Ibori political dynasty like a tsunami washed away all decency and morality in the polity of the state.
In his effort to provide credible leadership that would have turned Delta State as enviable state in the country with sound economic policies, he has explored different political platform to oust the monstrous PDP from the reigns of governance in the state. Sadly though, since 2003 when he ventured into the murky water of Delta politics, he has consistently won all the governorship elections in the state, but the forces of darkness which have held the state bound and turned it to their common patrimony would not allow him to enjoy the sweet savoury of his electoral victory, because the PDP always fly with the victory through the back-door, and 2015 governorship election was another broad day robbery by the PDP, and in their quest to win by foul means they scored more votes than the numbers of accredited voters.
Take the Ogboru factor away from Delta politics, PDP would have no need to campaign because in Delta, the fear of Ogboru is the beginning of wisdom for the ruling PDP in the state which has been in power since 1999. Ogboru’s popularity and leadership charisma is unmatched in Delta, and his anti-corruption posturing had made the powers, that be within and outside Delta state to vow not to allow him govern the state where has being their farm over the years, as it will end their free launch.
One thing you can’t take away from Ogboru is that he is a man greatly loved by his people, and in Delta state and beyond he is an iconic political heavyweight, and to the Urhobo nation, he is a Hero and symbol of hope for the Urhobo struggle to reposition itself in the comity of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. And he will continue to enjoy the support of his people in the years to come, because he is a man who genuinely love his people and had risked everything to ensure that he liberate the Urhobo people, Deltans and the entire Niger Delta region from the current oppressive government that have consistently looted the commonwealth of the region.
OLOROGUN O’TEGA EMERHOR: A HERO AND DEFENDER OF URHOBO’S PRIDE
Olorogun O’tega Emerhor is another illustrious son of the Urhobo nation that made Urhobo proud in the year 2015. But for Emerhor doggedness and tenacity, the Urhobo nation would not have had a voice in All Progressive Congress, APC, the ruling party at national level and the best choice of the opposition in Delta state, if they want a platform to dislodge the boisterous PDP which boasted that they will rule Delta till eternity.
Arguably, Emerhor came into the governorship race as the underdog considering the fact that the APC was yet to be firmly rooted in Delta state. He gave a good account of himself at the governorship election that was massively rigged, as evidenced by the outrageous figures awarded to the PDP candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. He has also continued to be a thorn in the flesh of the PDP and Okowa in the ongoing electoral case that is now before the Supreme Court.
In the build up to the APC governorship primary, Delta North stakeholders mobilized resources to ensure both the PDP and APC governorship ticket is in their kitty, but Emerhor with little or no support from his own people fought on, and brought the governorship ticket to the Urhobo nation as he had promised the UPU, when the Urhobo apex body told the political class that the party that gave their sons ticket, is the party the Urhobo will support and vote for. He stood to be counted when it mattered most. He could have sold out like what many Urhobos in the PDP did. For choosing to defend the Urhobo pride and honour, and for bringing Urhobos to the front seat in the APC, he deserves to be enrolled into the Urhobo Row of Honour, as an Urhobo Hero and Defender of Urhobo Pride.
Had Emerhor chickened out, the APC structure in Delta State, would have been in the kitty of Delta North. Had that happened, the Urhobo nation and the Delta South Senatorial District would have become an onlooker in the politics of the state and at the national level, therefore, Emerhor is worthy of our commendation, he is a hero in his own right.
OBAISI (Barr.) OVIE OMO-AGEGE: HE STOOP TO CONQUER, AN URHOBO CHAMPION IN 2015
To many political observers in Delta State and particularly in Delta central, Obasis (Barr.) Ovie Omo-Agege who has been nicknamed as “talk-na-do”, have lived up to his word when he promised the Urhobo people that he will defend their mandate. He didn’t only defend it, but went ahead to reclaim it from the usurper. Omo-Agege against all odds have proven that he is a fierce fighter who will give everything within his power to reclaim what rightly belongs to him as freely expressed by the good people of Delta Central Senatorial District, when they came out in their numbers and voted for Omo-Agege and the Labour Party as their Senator.
Omo-Agege in deciding to team up with Ogboru after he lost the PDP ticket lived up to the expectations of late Chief Mowoe, who charged the Urhobo people to stand and defend the political interest of the Urhobo nation at all times, not minding the personal cost. Despite the huge risk of losing political associates and friends in the PDP, Omo-Agege chose to support and stand up for the Urhobo course.
The story of Omo-Agege in 2015 is a promise made and promise kept. When he took the bold and selfless step to team up with his brother, Chief Great Ogboru against the expectations of many Deltans who thought that though he was shortchanged in the PDP, he like many others did, will stay in the PDP and work against the interest of his people just to ensure his continued relevance in the politics of the state. To the surprise of all across the state, the Obaisi of Urhobo land chose to identify with the Urhobo nation and Deltan’s desire for change by joining the Labour Party and help Chief Great Ogboru bring change to Delta state. His entrant dramatically changed the dynamic of the political permutations in the state in favour of Labour Party.
He didn’t only put his money where his mouth is, he traversed the entire state with the Peoples General to reassure Deltans that if they come out to vote for Ogboru and the LP, their vote will count. On his part during his campaign he visited every town, village, clan and hamlets across Delta Central carrying the message of Hope as was symbolized by Great Ogboru to them, asking them to take the Ogboru project as Urhobo project.
In all my experience covering political campaigns, I have never seen any candidate that gives more time and energy to His Governorship Candidate, than himself, but that is how Omo-Agege chose to campaign. He placed the Ogboru project far higher than his. He spoke so passionately about a man that the Urhobo nation loved so much, unknowing to Obaisi, his actions, utterances and body language were clearly noted by the good people of Delta central, who saw the genuineness of Omo-Agege and rewarded him with their votes. He went out to sell Ogboru to the voters, but unknowingly marketed himself in the process.
He is one politician who has large support base among the grassroot, he can relate with the high, because he has all the Abuja connections and contacts, but also has the capacity to relate with the old woman in the village and can understand her pains, no wonder he floored his closest rival in all front.
And to prove that he is a man of his word, when the mandate of the Urhobo people was stolen by PDP with collaboration of some compromised INEC staffs, he promised that he will reclaim the mandate. He assured the Urhobo people that the joy of the thief would not last long and at the Court of Appeal in Benin, Omo-Agege true to his word recovered our mandate and the entire Delta central went into wide jubilation that lasted over a week, unchallenged as those ghost voters which Amori claimed voted for him were nowhere to be found.
His victory brought hope not only to Urhobo people but all Deltans across party lines who want change in Delta state. Urhobo and Delta can count on him in the ongoing quest to nullify the election of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa which was characterised by senseless rigging.
When a man goes out for a competition and comes back with the coveted trophy he is called a Champ. So, in the year 2015 Obaisi (Barr.) Ovie Omo-Agege, the Senator-elect, for Delta Central Senatorial District, is the Urhobo Champion of Democracy, the Defender of the Urhobo mandate and Urhobo Man of the Year 2015.
CHIEF JOE OMENE: A 2015 MAN OF COURAGE
Chief Joe Omene, the President General of the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, is a man mostly misunderstood for many reasons. Despite his failings, he is a patriot who really wanted an Urhobo governor. His actions were driven by the overall Urhobo interest. But in carrying out this responsibility, he made a huge mistake of trusting the enemy. Here was a man who took the mantle of leadership of a great nation, when the Urhobo nation was at a crossroads and at its lowest political ebb. Yet he was able to galvanize the Urhobo political class to check the drift of the Urhobo nation into political oblivion.
Even in the face of threat, intimidation and blackmail by some dramatic personal, he remained resolute to the Urhobo project. Yes UPU under his leadership was naive to dine with the devil and sinned, but. they also did many things right and therefore should be commended for having the courage to stand up for what is right and for speaking when every Urhobo politician in the PDP were tongue-tied to project the Urhobo interest, therefore he is one of our Hero, yes in every hero there is a weak side, but Omene showed more courage than weakness, and should be commended.
CHIEF TUESDAY ONOGE: A MAN OF INTEGRITY
To those who are not properly informed on why Chief Onoge and his group left UPU at the time they did, it was an issue of a man keeping to his word. For Onoge his word is his bound, and he strongly believe that a man should be able to stand up for what he believes to be right and defend it, even if it is not the popular opinion at the time, because popular opinion may not necessarily be the right thing.
The action of his splinter group gave Urhobo a voice in the APC. Had they not opened their door to the APC when the UPU led by Omene endorsed Jonathan and PDP at the national level, the Urhobo nation would have been biting their fingers today. Here is a man who stood with the other view till the end.
CHIEF IGHOYOTA AMORI, HON. ERHIATAKE IBORI, CHIEF DAVID EDEVBIE
These three characters represent the class of Urhobos in the political class who desires to represent the Urhobo nation; however, they placed their party’s interest far above the Urhobos interest and are willing to do anything to bring the entire Urhobo nation to its kneel as long as they get what they want from their party, the PDP. Erhiatake Ibori, supervised the distribution of the money used to buy over delegates during the PDP governorship primary, where Chief David Edevbie, another Urhobo man and stooge of her father, Chief Ibori was roundly beaten, only to be compensated with a commissionership position. Chief Ighoyota Amori who is the chief mastermind of the political humiliation of the Urhobo nation, chose to turn his back on his people and carry out the wishes of a man serving time in UK prison, at a time he was aspiring to represent the same Urhobo people whom he stripped naked at Asaba. He thought he could eat his cake and still keep it. Of course the Urhobo people won’t let that happen as he was overwhelmingly rejected at the poll. His attempt to steal the mandate was also futile and today, he is the most humiliated politician in Urhobo land. HABA I HEAR YOU SAY, THAT SERVES HIM RIGHT.
A Political Commentator,
Wrote in from Asaba.