By Chief Alfred Etinagbedia and Dr. Joe E. Orakpor
Our attention has been drawn to a misleading video clip circulating on social media by Chief Joe Omene, the former Acting President-General of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU). As usual, Chief Omene who was mostly incoherent, stammered and looked worn-out all through the interview, woefully attempted to massage his badly bruised and deflated ego by making false claims.
But, most laughable, yet disturbing, is his resort to a curious but childish, pitiful, deceptive emotional and verbal Hossanah choruses to praise Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the State PDP who, have always been victims of his several malicious diatribes.
Ordinarily, we would have ignored the blatant lies peddled by Chief Omene, a man who has been traditionally ostracised by the Urhobo Nation, thereby making him an outcast and impostor. However, it is very necessary to put the records straight, to alert the public, especially unsuspecting individuals, political aspirants and various interest groups and organisations, to the dangers inherent in Omene’s tirade, which, to all intent and purposes, is not only aimed at extorting money but to destabilise the Urhobo Nation and Delta State.
As patriotic Urhobo sons, who are privileged to be deeply involved in the affairs of UPU, we can state categorically, without any fear of contradiction, that the tenure of Omene as Acting President-General of UPU expired in December 2016. So, today, he only exists as PG on the pages of newspapers.
We are very worried and troubled by the damning information at our disposal concerning the wicked plans of some disgruntled elements, both within and outside the Urhobo Nation, to cause confusion within the UPU, and supplant the Moses Taiga-led UPU with a stooge, because of the endorsement of Olorogun David Edevbie, as the Urhobo preferred aspirant for the PDP Governorship primaries. The perpetrators of this mischief are said to have finalised arrangements to bring back Omene, through the back door, as UPU President-General, with so much financial arsenal already deployed to that effect.
Like the ostrich, these people who are plotting to destabilise the Urhobo Nation for their selfish interests, have failed to understand that every detail of their plan is in the public domain. But, they are simply blinded by their ulterior motives, believing that their evil schemes are leak-proof. Yet, it is a common beer parlour gossip throughout the State that they are boasting of having procured a court judgment, through questionable means, to achieve their ulterior motive to ouster Moses Taiga and thereby counter the popular decision and choice of the UPU.
We wish to advise and warn these enemies of the Urhobo Nation to desist from their villainous plot to discredit the Taiga-led UPU and impose an ostracised person on our great and foremost socio-cultural organisation, under any guise. This will be resisted by the Urhobo people, and bring about unpalatable, but avoidable consequences.
The UPU has not done anything wrong or committed any crime with the endorsement of David Edevbie. And contrary to the lies been peddled by the naysayers, that the action of the UPU amounts to partisan politics, we make bold to testify that Olorogun Moses Taiga is not a politician and has never been involved in partisan politics, to the best of our knowledge. He is not a man who can be swayed by financial/material inducements. He swore an oath to serve and protect the Urhobo Nation. At a huge cost to his liberty, financial resources and social relationships, he has sacrificed a lot, calmly absorbing a lot of punches and verbal attacks simply for taking decisions that are for the overall benefit of the Urhobo Nation and her people, no matter whose ox is gored. He remains undaunted on the task of steering the Urhobo people to greater heights as we approach the 2023 election.
That is why we feel very sad and pained by Omene’s attempt to condemn, ridicule and rubbish the UPU’s bold, courageous and patriotic decision of endorsing Olorogun David Edevbie as Urhobo’s candidate in the forthcoming PDP primaries, based on his experience, exposure and performance in the interactive session which the UPU had with all the Urhobo Governorship aspirants in the PDP. According to the release signed by the President-General, the first Deputy President-General and others, it was clear that due process was followed in arriving at that decision, which, we dare say, has received popular acclaim. We would have expected Omene to be courageous enough for once, to commend the UPU for a good job done. Instead, he chose to thread his usual path of infamy, lying to even himself, that the UPU did not consult wide before taking its decision.
What is most bemusing, however, is that Omene, who has never seen anything good in the Okowa-led Government in the past seven years because of its support for the Moses Taiga-led UPU, has suddenly started showering praises on him. In the recent interview with Rero Television, Omene was very patronising and even ascribed the power and supremacy to single-handedly select a successor to the incumbent Governor Okowa, “while the UPU will follow the direction of the Governor in the choice of his successor.”
Omene has always proven himself to be a man of half-truth. He lied all through the poorly-produced interview. For instance, in trying to reinvent what played out in 2014, when the UPU under his leadership, also endorsed Olorogun David Edevbie, he told the lies without realising that people who were actively involved in that case, are still alive. Imagine his lying that the UPU consulted with then-Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan before endorsing Edevbie. Capital LIE. Omene is simply lying to himself because he wants to curry favour from Governor Okowa, who we understand, is not happy with the UPU decision. Perhaps, he is daydreaming that somehow, he could latch onto the present situation, warm himself into the good books of the Governor and help him to return to the UPU. That, we dare say, will remain a tall order and mere dream till eternity, because he remains an outcast till tomorrow. No power can bring Omene back to the UPU because he has been rejected by the Urhobo people.
Hear how he put it in that interview: “In the time of Governor Uduaghan, the UPU consulted with him…he came up with a name, not from Delta Central, Mr. Tony Obuh, and the UPU said no…after consulting with the then President (Jonathan), he (Uduaghan), now called me and said if I want someone from Delta Central, then he would be the one to pick the person.
“We said it is okay as long as he is an Urhobo man. It was him who picked David Edevbie…he invited us, UPU, to his house in Warri and told us that after due consultations, he has picked David Edevbie; that he can work with him. The UPU did not object.”
Omene knows in his heart of hearts that the truth is that his own UPU at the time, invited all the Urhobo aspirants, just as the Taiga-led UPU did, and conducted a mock primary for them. The aspirants then included His Excellency, Prof Amos Utuama, then Deputy Governor; Chief Ovie Omo-Agege, now Deputy Senate President, and many other prominent Urhobo political leaders. Furthermore, it was after Edevbie emerged that Governor Uduaghan adopted him, when the North refused to accept his first-choice candidate, Mr. Tony Obuh, of blessed memory, because the Anioma Congress, the socio-cultural body of the North, also conducted its primary for their aspirants, where Senator Okowa, as he was then, won, and became their choice. So, it is not true, at all, that Governor Uduaghan had a hand in or influenced the emergence of Edevbie.
Omene is simply playing to the gallery. He said in the poorly-conducted interview that he would not invite any aspirant to come to him, but rather, any one of them who comes to his UPU, would be welcomed. But, we ask; which true-born Urhobo will go to an outcast? He knows that if he calls, no one will heed his call because everyone knows him to be an outcast and impostor.
The only good news in that thrash interview is where Omene said that any aspirant who agreed and subjected himself to be interrogated by the UPU, must accept the verdict of such exercise. We commend him for that because we know that apart from one or two, all the aspirants attended the interface with the UPU.
Although it is laughable how Omene was kowtowing to Okowa in the interview, it is however suggestive of the new romance between Omene and the Governor. How funny that Omene now speaks to please the Governor whom he has accused with much hatred and venom for his support for the UPU.
Hear Omene again: “I tell you, this is very key. There is an incumbent Governor. The UPU will eh consult..eh, eh, try to feel the direction of the incumbent Governor. He is the one going to hand over.. and he is the one who can assess somebody who can continue from where he stopped….” The former acting President General of UPU also said: “If you are a governorship aspirant and you don’t flow with the Governor, then you have to do something to be able to flow well with him… what concerns the UPU most is that the particular person must be an Urhobo man from the Central.”
At one point he said: “If today, the incumbent Governor comes to tell us he is picking somebody from outside Delta Central, then we will fight him because we know it is now the turn of the Central. But we cannot say he should not have a say in who should be the flag bearer of the PDP in Delta State. He is the leader of the PDP in Delta State. We should face reality. As long as he is somebody from Delta Central, the UPU will not have objections. The UPU can assist by assessing these people and giving our opinion.”
It is rather interesting that a born-again Omene is now hailing Okowa’s judgment and showing readiness to endorse anyone that the Governor picks without a care for the social, intellectual, emotional and cultural character, capacity and capabilities of such candidate. Little wonder why Joe Omene was roundly rejected and kicked out by the Urhobo Nation. He has a poor sense of judgment. He is always swayed by self-interest, rather than the overall Urhobo interest. It is unbelievable that Omene who has poured all forms of invectives on the PDP is now sounding ‘I am loyal’!
However, we wonder again; what is giving Omene the confidence to speak the way he did in the interview? Has he been promised anything to play a spoiler role as we approach the 2023 elections, particularly the all-important PDP governorship party primary? We are aware that he has been having meetings of late with some top politicians close to the corridors of power.
We dare say that Omene speaks like one who is sure of legal victory in the case he instituted in court against the UPU National executive. Are the rumours true? What does Joe Omene know of the pending court judgement that gives him the confidence to speak the way he speaks.
We will like to dwell a little more on Omene’s ostracism by the Urhobo Nation. The Council of Traditional Rulers of Urhoboland, Urhobo Kingdoms Presidents-General and other relevant stakeholders in the Urhobo Nation invoked ‘IMU’ on him, which is yet to be revoked or appeased. The proclamation of ‘IMU’ was published in The Urhobo Voice and Vanguard newspapers. This explains why Omene has not been seen at public gatherings, social interactions and events of the Urhobo Nation in the past six years, including funeral activities of our eminent and illustrious personalities. His activities have been restricted to Mosogar. He lacks the capacity; social, traditional, moral and cultural authority and legitimacy to speak on Urhobo National issues, and for the Urhobo Nation.
Anyone who is under the ancestral weight and grip of ‘IMU’ must not be touched, seen and heard by true citizens of the Urhobo Nation, until such a person genuinely seeks atonement, presents his/herself and satisfies all the conditions for appeasement. To the best of our knowledge, Chief Omene has not even shown remorse, talk less of wanting to atone for his sins against the Urhobo Nation nor has he sought appeasement. So, he is still under ‘IMU.’ and remains ostracised. True Urhobo sons and daughters are advised.