By Abraham Ogbodo
It is like the Urhobo have been wired to agonise instead of getting organized. Instead of seeking information and be informed, we have chosen to be impulsive and create a staccato around Delta State governorship election in 2023 with baseless commentaries. Last week, Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) came out boldly to announce David Edevwie as the Urhobo’s choice in the PDP governorship primaries. Immediately after, hell was let loose as all kinds of uninformed commentaries rained down in condemnation of the UPU’s decision.
My only quarrel with the UPU’s endorsement is that there could have been a meeting of minds and made to come after the debate by Urhobo advocacy group, *Ojar’Urhobo*, on the 2023 politics of Delta State. The debate which had been scheduled to hold on April 17 was hurriedly called off after the announcement by the UPU. That way, the UPU would have been further strengthened to act. Outside that, the endorsement remains the most assertive and audacious move by Urhobo leadership in recent times and in this season of anomie. This is not like past endorsements that were loaded with selfish motives. Every objective assessor of the intra-Urhobo contentions within the PDP for the governorship position in 2023, would agree that the endorsement is well considered. What are we actually saying? That in the line-up of PDP aspirants as it is currently, some person comes before David Edevwie in capacity and preparedness to govern Delta State? Come on, let’s be serious for once and make development drive our politics and not the reverse.
Now let me give a background. Last December during the UPU @90 celebrations at Uvwiamuge, Agbarho, something happened. And this is it: Governor Okowa, while responding to sundry issues raised in Olorogun Moses Taiga’s address, key of which was the need for the next Governor of the State to come from Urhobo, did specifically charge the UPU to do more and present a united front for the contest of the PDP governorship ticket in 2023. He stressed that if that was done, his hand would be strengthened to discharge any affirmative consideration in favour of Delta Central concerning who becomes the next governor of the state. This is not to say the in-house arrangement of the State PDP to rotate the governorship among the three senatorial zones has become obsolete. It is only becoming an issue because of the seeming desire of the incumbent governor, a beneficiary of the arrangement, to chart his own course.
But Okowa’s charge to UPU at Uvwiamuge was what triggered the DC23 initiative to attempt an assessment with a view to narrowing down the colony of Urhobo governorship aspirants within the PDP. The DC23 did what it could do and settled for three names – Sheriff Oborevwori, David Edevwie and Kenneth Gbagi. I want to believe that it was from this caned list that the UPU invoked its own parameters to arrive at David Edevwie.
Now, tell me, what more consultation was needed for the UPU to do what it did? I can however say for free that, it is neither heroism nor ingenuity to engage in deliberate mischief to lower the collective stake in anticipation of personal benefits. I mean, must the Urhobo crave and drive overboard to make a point about their republicanism, or more appropriately, bellicosity, especially when there is absolutely no point to make?
Soon, and really very soon, we will be stranded in our cold corner and pointing with shameful envy at the glorious standing of our Itsekiri brothers and sisters. While we act like crabs, perpetually stuck in self-cancellation and less able to gain meaningful height, our brothers are like the termites, acting in concert to feed their queen and defend their colony. They deserve their place and peace.
By our own actions and inactions, we have become so little and boxed into underdogs in a theatre where we should be roaring as champions! This is one endorsement that is not cash and carry and for me, it will not matter even if the UPU’s choice fails to fly in the end. Every good move must not end in success but must end in honour and that is even far more important. We are the same people that always accuse the UPU of inaction when action is required. In fact, the Urhobo Renaissance Society and other advocacy platforms like Ojar’Urhobo are largely operating to incite talking points that will push the UPU into doing something. The Union has shown courage for once done something most honourable.
Truly, the events in the last few days have exposed the hollowness of some of the people parading elite status in Urhobo land. No sense of history, no sense of pride in their determination to be counted for official patronage. They have successfully painted themselves as persons who would insist on hypocritically raising the lantern in broad daylight to differentiate between white and black. Shame! Why are some of us always pushed by hunger to eat in coven?
All kinds of revisionism has been pushed into the discourse to create fraudulent premise. Some say the UPU is not “political”; whatever that means! They seem unable to tell the difference between being politically responsive and being partisan! I have asked a few persons to explain to me what exactly was on the minds of the founding fathers when they assembled at Okpara Waterside in 1931 to birth the Urhobo Brotherly Society that later became the UPU? Was it to form a group of *oghwo* / *usi* and *ukodo* eaters? For the records, the UPU was formed for the all-around liberation of the Urhobo, especially political liberation at a time the Urhobo nation was faced with existential threats from all sides and the Urhobo needed to act in self-preservation. The point that the UPU had suffered morally bankrupt leadership in the recent past and had been intimidated by self-serving political actors to sleep on its role or perform same more in breach should not be pushed into mainstream thinking in Urhobo land.
Let me not delve into deep history. The UPU under then Chief Benjamin Okumagba had even supported Ibori against Ogboru in 2003. And when the stakes changed in 2007, the same UPU, still under Chief Okumagba did not only endorse Ogboru but supported his campaigns with funding against Uduaghan. Let us be properly guided! It was good politics when the Anoima nation endorsed Senator Arthur Okowa against Uduaghan’s choice in 2015 but an abomination when the UPU does same in 2022 to push the Urhobo viewpoint against a rampaging incumbent! I genuinely advise that Okowa, a beneficiary of justice, equity, good conscience and fairness should not be seen as acting at cross-purposes with these virtues. A man who hides behind a finger cannot claim to be comprehensively insured. Let’s also be reminded that the chest-thumping of the gorilla does not make him the ruler of the jungle. The lion is there! The tiger is there! And the elephant is also there before we can even talk of submitting all powers to the Almighty!
The UPU has not said other Urhobo sons that are in contention in the PDP scheme are not useful. It is only saying that only one governor is required and it has applied objective parameters to settle for David Edevwie. If we are questioning the parameters, it automatically becomes a point to interrogate. Otherwise, we should close ranks and push for the best for Urhobo and the state as a whole.