Revisiting the 2014 Urhobo Uvwiamuge Declaration: A shot in the Foot

Delta State Ethnic Map
Delta State Ethnic Map

A social analyst and public commentator Dr Gregory Oyibojoba, while delivering a lecture on “Inconsistency as a context in Nigeria’s political division” at a Youth forum recently in the University of Benin had taken a swipe at the Urhobo 2014 Uvwiamuge Declaration and described it as an unfortunate shot in the foot.

According to him  – The choice of Uvwiamuge for Urhobo progress union activities evolved from the perception that its geographical certitude as the center of Urhobo lands gave every issues and views emanating from it as central to Urhobo interests.

Dr Gregory Oyibojoba insisted that the Urhobo Uvwiamuge Declaration of 2014 lay at the intersection of three factors, first as a finite body of knowledge that is archived, curated, performed and published to represent an indubitable Urhobo agenda, then as an item of cultural pride among the Urhobo people and finally as a dominant tool of political and social cultural hegemony.

He pointed out that isolating Uvwiamuge 2014 Urhobo declaration for consideration is not an attempt to repudiate the tenets of the most illustrious and consolidated body of social cultural scholarship of the Urhobo nation, the Urhobo Progress Union, it is more about a critical inquisition into an eminent urhobo political attitude which in all evaluation is significantly hegemonic in nature, and has continued to assume a new normal, that has ridiculed its previous stances, rubbished its ethnic integrity and negativized its trajectory and philosophy of political participation.

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Quoting extensively from the March 28th 2014 Uvwiamuge Declaration, “We have serious concerns over the events of the past few weeks in the race to succeed the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan in 2015. That is why it has become necessary to reiterate our position on this very important issue that will determine the future of our dear state.”

1. The present National Executive Council of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) was elected by delegates drawn from all the kingdoms in Urhobo and in a free and fair poll, so adjudged by all contestants (winners and losers), thereby conferring on the UPU EXCO the powers to represent the Urhobo people and speak on their behalf on all matters bothering on their welfare, be it traditional, political and socio-economic.

2. In pursuance of the above mandate expressly and freely given to us, we, after thoroughly evaluating the position of the urhobo people in the present Delta State and Nigeria, held a meeting on Friday March 28th, 2014 at the UPU cultural centre in Uvwiamuge-Agbarho, with traditional rulers and representatives from all the kingdoms, political class, businessmen, youth and women in attendance in their thousands, issued a communique, in which we made a solemn declaration that the Urhobo nation will produce the Governor of Delta State in 2015,

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Dr Oyibojoba said “there is no better or indeed more unambiguous, articulate, precise, unequivocal, downright, authoritative and veritable pronouncement to date from the Urhobo progress union than the above statement made from its cultural center at Uvwiamuge.

He said the statement only goes to reinforce what His Excellency Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said on May 19th 2021 that “there was no formal meeting where a gentleman’s agreement was reached and that is the truth as at today”

According to him, “the Urhobo position works assiduously for extraneous interests whose agenda stands at variance with the expectations of other ethnic peoples of the state who seem to believe in His Excellency Governor Okowa’s statement that “ whatever we are doing or talking about today is about what is fair, and what is equitable and hinged on justice.”

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“This unfortunate recourse to frivolous uppity in pushing a barely disguised, pernicious agenda to heat up the Delta State polity is uncharacteristic, and this is charitable to say the least, to the Urhobo republican consciousness,” the statement quoted Oyibojoba as saying.

The well attended lecture further had Dr Oyibojoba arguing that “the very idea that the Urhobo people seem to have problem with aligning its 2014 perception to its present day political attitude seem to betray dubiety and mischief.”

According to Oyibojoba, “It is this palpable threat evinced in the Urhobo political attitude that has exposed it as a supporter of political anarchy in Delta State which should not be.” He said “Like the Urhobo minority appeal was catered for in the era of the Willinks Commission of 1958 within the broader context of the Nigerian federation, the Urhobo must allow itself to concede in the task of addressing the concerns of other ethnic minority people who have not been given the opportunity to lead Delta State from the driving seat when the term of the current Government expires.”

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