‘Before We Kill Ourselves over Urhobo Progress Union’
By Ted Ochuko Arayki
LAGOS DECEMBER 21ST (URHOBOTODAY)-Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) is a union of the Urhobo people, however it is a body constituted by its Urhobo founding members with a constitution and the union is generally funded by its members as is clearly spelt out in its constitution.
Only registered Urhobo citizens who are fit, financial and attending citizens are members of the union. If you are not registered and paying dues to the union and you are not attending meetings, you are not a member of the union even if you are an Urhobo citizen. Like many other associations and unions of the Urhobo people, UPU is a union of Urhobo people so in a way she can claim to represent the Urhobo people, culturally, socially, politically, and sometimes as a fore of the Urhobos. Nevertheless not all Urhobo people are members of the union as is being misconstrued by many people. If you are not paying dues to the union and you are not attending meetings, then you are not a member of the union. It is only fair that some Urhobos should not fund the UPU while others who did not contribute to the pot reap from its benefits.
So UPU may not speak for Igbudu market women, Afieki-Uvwie market women, Egbaregolo market women, Uhwokori market women (Kokori) Avwraka market women (Abraka), Egbaregolo market women, Ophorigbala market women, etc, as being misrepresented by one Gibson Atuyota Ikanone in his 203 page document written to Prof. Peter Ekeh, President, of the Urhobo Historical Society (UHS). I am an Urhobo citizen, but I am not yet a member of UHS therefore I am unable to take part in the electoral process of that body or benefit whatsoever from any proceed from that Urhobo body. So if a member is celebrating or is bereaved UHS can support such a member with resources not limited to cash alone but UHS will not do same to any other Urhobo who is not a member of UHS. It is the same with UPU a constituted union of the Urhobo people.
Urhukpe r’Urhobo ladies association for an example does not represent all Urhobo ladies even though they are registered as an Urhobo women association. Only their members belong to the association nonetheless they are Urhobo women. No one can come from outside Urhukpe r’Urhobo ladies association to be the president of the association.
You have to be a member of the union to be eligible to vote and be voted for. It is a pity that we still don’t understand these trifling issues in our nation. And here lies the problem of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU). We know in the past that very important Urhobo citizens who are not members of the union either financially or attending members have been drafted in to take very important positions. This in my opinion has created a conflict between the union as a body of its own with its duly registered members and an organ for the true representation of the Urhobo people. Here lies the trouble and this so much so has created a problem for us as a nation. Even
if members of the union may want to employ non registered Urhobo people to be elected into offices, I think the proper way is for the constitution of the union to first permit it. But my recollection is very different from the above assertion. Some people very rightly so may cry corruption over this and yes they are right to feel that way. We seem to be jumping into the problems of our nation. This without doubt is causing us to drown in the problem bedevilling our Urhobo nation rather than offering solutions to the problems. We need to inform clearly all our citizens about the issues from A – Z affecting our
nation in other to avoid misinterpretation. Thus enable a proper understanding of the issues in the scheme of things all around our nation. We know Urhobo desperately need a unity voice which is the actual meaning of the word union”, and if UPU has to be that voice then the constitution must be reviewed and possibly be rewritten to reflect that requirement and need. A note of caution here; Only UPU members can review or rewrite the constitution either at its regular meetings, or emergency meeting, “The Annual General Council shall have power to alter, vary, repeal, add to, or otherwise amend any or all of the provisions of this (UPU) Constitution (See UPU constitution below).
If however we want an organ of one voice or a union representing all Urhobos, then all Urhobos must be ready to fund it. A derivative policy, plan and strategy can be created and constructed where all Urhobos will be members of that body and all Urhobos will have to fund such a union. That is when it can represent all Urhobos and its leaders can be held accountable to all Urhobo citizens. Unless we see the union for what it is or change it for what we like it to become, then the crisis we have in the land will continue to be unabated. On paper it is right to call UPU a flag bearer, a voice and a representative of the Urhobo nation but in reality it is not and more so according to the constitution of the UPU union.
According to the founding members, UPU was formed to help shore off the marginalisation, discriminations and oppressions being emitted to the Urhobos at the time. Today that objective for forming the union may be obsolete and must be reviewed to meet our growing numbers especially in the number of kings we have for instance. UPU may have an ideology that favours the Urhobos but it does not necessary mean that they are the voice for the Urhobos. Such a voice I dare here to say must be inclusive of all our Kings, monarchs and Urhobo citizens who occupy positions of authority; a well thought process in which roles and responsibilities are given to our Kings and all arms of authorities of all Urhobo citizens. If the UPU is the voice of Urhobos, how does the President General the leader of the UPU relate to our kings and other Urhobo citizens of authority in the land? These are the kind of question we must answer. UPU today may be one of the voices of Urhobo nation but not an exclusive one by the fact in its constitution and that’s why we are constantly embroiled in these bickering and infighting in the Urhobo land. We desperately need to review our nation and the position of its citizens. There is a model we can take a sneak peek
at and that’s the model of the United Kingdom which is a monarchy where a king or a queen is the Head of State of the union. The British Monarchy is known as a constitutional monarchy. That means while the Sovereign is the Head of State, the ability to make and pass legislation resides with the elected officers who are under the monarchy. Urhobo may look into the British system of government and see if we can espouse or borrow any part of that system. So if we want a voice which we must have, given our present needs, that all Urhobos must be members then all Urhobos must pay to fund such an organisation and they may also send representatives on their behalf to attend meetings as all members in that circumstance cannot attend meetings even though they are financial members.
We know and appreciate that there are some registered members who sometimes are unable to pay their monthly dues due to financial problems and we also know that there are members who pay their dues with regularity but due to other commitments are unable to attend meetings. Both these categories if registered may be duly members of the union. Quick notes about Urhobo citizens, some of whom mainly study law and are great lawyers, but seem to practice their law only within our kingdom. Now is when we need them to find a drawing board, look at the board and create a think tank made up of all Urhobo citizens from all schools of thought which will review our nation and upgrade it to this 21st century Nigeria without any personal or sub group agendas in the big picture, plan or in any part of the Urhobo nation’s
policies. If we may then we need to create this novel body with a very clear and unambiguous constitution availed to all Urhobo citizens that they must all know and must all respect. There is no need for litigations when everyone knows the rules of engagement. Litigation and court processes are decimating and unduly delaying our nation’s progress. Let us all hope that if Urhobos stop fighting and start thinking, then Urhobo can fashion a plan and policies for its nation to face up to the issues and problems in the 21st century Urhobo land, Delta State and indeed Nigeria.
Long Live Urhobo Nation, Urhobo wadoo and God Bless the Urhobo Nation.