…as other sons and daughters of Urhobo extraction postulate on the way forward
Professor G.G. Darah, the erudite professor of Oral Literature, Folklore and Cultural Sciences has said that the most significant changes that will transform Nigeria’s federating units such as Uvwie and Urhobo is political restructuring of Nigeria.
In a keynote address at a colloquium at the PTI Conference Centre, Effurun on Uvwie: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow to mark the 15th coronation adversary of the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, HRM Emmanuel Ekemejewa Sideso, Abe 1, JP. OON, Professor Darah regretted like other oil-rich districts of Urhobo and the Niger Delta, Uvwie has been reduced to an economic colony of Nigeria.
“For over 50 years the people of Uvwie have offered a conducive
atmosphere for businesses and investors to thrive and prosper.
The Federal Government of Nigeria and multinational oil companies are the biggest beneficiaries of the prosperity.
“Regrettably, the people of Uvwie have become landless and
impoverished. Like other oil-rich districts of Urhobo and the Niger
Delta, Uvwie has been reduced to an economic colony of Nigeria.
This situation of exploitation should not be allowed to continue.
The instruments for a fairer and more equitable engagement
should be fashioned to enable Uvwie people to become substantial shareholders in the businesses and industries.
Therefore, fresh memoranda of understanding should be
prepared to equip Uvwie people to own controlling shares in the existing and future enterprises.
“In the light of emerging consensus on public economic ventures,
giant industries like the Refinery, Petrochemicals Plant, and the
Nigerian Gas Company are likely to be available for privatization.
Urhobo/Uvwie investors must be allocated substantial shares in
the privatized enterprises
“For equity and justice, the policies on local content must be
implemented in all the public industries and institutions such that
the relevant cadres of personnel must be reserved for
Uvwie/Urhobo host communities. For example, about 75% of
employment of middle level and non-technical cadre should be
reserved for locals. The tertiary institutions – PTI and FUPRE – must
allocate agreed admission spaces for Uvwie citizens.
“Having lost much of the land to industries and government
institutions, Uvwie people can no longer practise subsistence
agriculture. Yet they have their natural right to enjoy sustainable
and decent livelihoods. The Uvwie people should now design a
development master plan to consolidate the status of an industrial
society in which they can thrive and prosper. An Uvwie
Investment and Development Corporation (UIDC) should be
registered to work out the strategies of how Uvwie/Urhobo
people can become self-reliant and dominant in certain fields of
enterprise. The UIDC will engage governments and financing
institutions such as the Bank of Industries, African Development
Bank and international agencies that fund economic projects. In
order to generate capital to finance enterprise, it is necessary to
establish an Uvwie Bank for Commerce and Industry. The shares
can open to other Urhobo kingdoms, friends and associates of
” Many of the goods sold in Uvwie and Urhobo markets are
produced in other states. This condition of dependency should be
challenged. Deliberate plans should be made to identify
consumable goods and services that must be manufactured in
Uvwie/Urhobo land to stimulate economic growth, employment
opportunities, and wealth. For example, there could be “Effurun
soaps and detergents”, “Ekpan packaged garri and starch”,
“Ugbomro Gins and Beverages”, “Ugborikoko Vegetable Oils”, etc.
In the viable field of catering services, enterprising Uvwie people can develop food brands such as “Ukodo Plaza”, “Amiedi
Assembly”, “Oghwo-Evwri Palace” etc.
The patronage of these
delicacies will further promote Urhobo cultural image.
With the current pressure on land, space for industries and
factories can be obtained by negotiating with churches to offer
sections of their premises.
“The churches will be co-owners and
shareholders in the enterprises. Similarly, new housing policies
should be developed in favour of high-rise structures of ten floors
and above; this is the trend in all modern metropolis in the world.
In the next ten years and beyond, fossil fuels for automobiles
might give way to electric vehicles. This development will lead to
the shutdown of many petrol service stations. Their premises will
be useful for industries, factories, and shopping plazas. The
problem of congested inter-city motorways will be reduced with
the introduction of metro line mass transit systems. That is when
Effurun/Warri and environs will assume the status of a metropolis.
In the next decade or so, an international wing of the Osubi
Airport will be built; this will upgrade the area to an aeropolis,
that is, a city dependent on aviation economy.
Professor Darah said the restructuring of the Nigerian Federation would entail
the devolution of political, economic, and security powers to the
federating units or states.
“The federating units or states will have
100% ownership/ control over their natural and other resources. The
states will pay a negotiated tax to the central government to run
essential public services. In the restructuring project, each state will
have its own constitution. In the constitution of each state, the
principles of restructuring will also be entrenched. Each local
government or kingdom will enjoy the right of 100% ownership and
control of its natural resources and revenues and pay a negotiated
tax to the state government. Thus, restructuring will end the
totalitarian and exploitative control of the federal government over the federating units; in the same manner, restructuring will put an
end to the autocratic and exploitative power of states over local
councils. Uvwie and other resource-endowed areas will benefit from
the restructuring of the Nigerian federation. These democratisation
processes will create a more equitable and just federation. Richly
endowed municipalities like Uvwie/Effurun will have funds to engage
in large-scale industrial enterprises, manufacturing, education,
cultural preservation, security, housing, health, and other social
In a paper presented by Mr. Daro Ejumudo which dealt extensively on the origin of the Uvwie people, he celebrated Abe I and described him as a symbol of change and positive transformation is Uvwie kingdom.
“His reign has ushered in greater peace and innovations. A world class palace,
befitting the Uvwie people was built during his reign. Like the Roman god, Janus,
he continues to look in opposite directions, drawing inspiration from the Uvwie
past to promote a glorious future.
“The throne under him has remained a force of cohesion, binding together the
fissiparous tendencies and social groups that inhere in every robust society, even
one as homogenous as the Uvwie kingdom. He radiates the grandeur and dignity of the kingdom and a source of inspiration and unity for the kingdom. Endowed with wisdom courage and integrity, he is the embodiment of the culture and tradition of the people.
“But like the theme of this colloquium: Uvwie: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,
the Ovie is also clearly focused on the future, promoting education at all levels to give opportunity to the underprivileged. There is no one more prepared and equipped to lead the Uvwie people to a brighter future.
In his paper, the Wado City advocate, Dr. Ejiro Imuere warned on the long time implication of calling Urhoblo towns, Warri and that it would lead to diminishing the Urhobo nation with the largest population in Delta state.
Prof. Rose Aziza lamented the marginalization of women in most Urhobo communities and the need for a review. Chief Assin Godstime lamented the low representation of some Urhobo communities including Uvwie in the political equilibrium in Delta state while Chief Hope Erute in a paper commended the late Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, Eruowho 11 and reigning monarch for their contribution to modern Uvwie emancipation.
The moderator of the event was Prof. (Chief) Joe Abugu(SAN) a specialist in Company Securities and Secured Credit Transactions. He has consulted in several capacities in public issues and private.
Earlier in an opening speak, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, HRM, Dr. Emmanuel Sideso narrated his desired to have a concise history of the Uvwie people and that the colloquium was just a stepping stone to achieve his aim.
The colloquium committee chairman, Chief Omafume Amurun announced that details of the colloquium is expected to be published as a compendium for further study on the history of the Uvwie people.