As ridiculous as it may sound, if Anioma were to be granted a State today, the new capital of Delta State would be either Koko (Itsekiriland) or Bomadi (Ijawland) or even Oleh (Isokoland). However, some Urhobos are crying for a [reinstated] “voice” in federal politics at the 90-day suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta: APC) from the upper house of the National Assembly but they cannot even handle themselves well politically within Delta State. Is this not the time for the Urhobo nation to look inwards and sort its cohesion challenges out?
Fejiro Oliver of Secret Reporters recently wrote about his utter disillusionment with the Urhobos (his full heritage) and his embrace of the Anioma people. He cited his betrayal by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the reason for his chosen ethnic preference. He was poached by Omo-Agege from NTA to be a staff writer with Urhobo Vanguard newspaper set up to assist Omo-Agege in his gubernatorial ambitions. When Fejiro was kidnapped in Niger State for investigative journalism in 2014, Omo-Agege and the entire Urhobo nation turned their backs on him giving mostly unbecoming excuses.
What pained Fejiro Oliver will now also pain Ovie Omo-Agege. What goes round comes round. It would be improper to call Omo-Agege’s fate poetic justice, it is just a predictable addition to personal and collective histories of the Urhobos, when most Urhobo persons find themselves in trouble and need the support of his or her people, they find themselves all alone without even a sincere prayer. Instead of Urhobo leaders to mount a credible defence for or protest at Omo-Agege’s suspension they put forward a strange claim “You cannot punish the entire Urhobo nation for the actions of one man” as if it would change anything in federal politics. Urhobo leaders can do far better; on their hands is a crisis of cooperation and coordination among their ranks and the people they lead.
On his or her own the Urhobos do as well as any other peoples but trees do not make forests. Many heads, many hands, many legs, many bodies, many voices, many contributors, many efforts, many ideas, many supports are all always much better than one.
To the majority of Urhobo people, the “common good” is a thing only thought about when holding meetings or listening to the lyrics of an Okpan Arhibo song or when talking about its obvious existence among other Nigerian ethnic groups or for political/financial gain. That is where their sensibilities of the common good end. The Urhobo man who lives for the common good is eventually made to feel he or she is an Ekpa [a Fool] within an environment of very selfish people, can you then blame them when they search for their good?. Thus the common good is necessarily elusive to the Urhobos as a paradigm.
But why? The most common dominant habits of most Urhobo people are uncompromising egocentricity and amoral familism, borne out of fear and distrust for one another. The Urhobo man or woman who has not been at receiving end of such habits more than once should proudly say so. When Fejiro Oliver wrote about his disgust with the Urhobo people one could hear countless Urhobo voices screaming with much passion, anger and hatred “I (or them) go poison am”, “who is his wretched father?”, “he no go die better”, “born throwaway, [bastard to the Urhobo]” and so on. Yet, when he was held hostage in Niger State no Urhobo people said a word except those who laughed at him and the odd one in journalism profession perhaps fearing his fate. Laughing at the misfortune of their own is a common pastime of the Urhobos and they know it.
When it comes fighting, retaliating, witching, bad mouthing and sabotaging each other, the typical Urhobo person is the Ultimate Warrior, but with other ethnic groups they never so strong – they even become pleaders and weaklings. Why don’t they use their poisons, curses, medicine, witchcraft and naked old women against hostile outsiders? Most recently, we saw Fulani Herdsmen ravaging parts of Urhoboland, where were the Urhobo Niger Delta militants and youth groups? Fifth largest ethnic group in Nigeria yet only Hon Evance Ivwurie (Ethiope East: PDP) appeared to take on the challenge of the herdsmen. Where were the main Urhobo leaders?
If the Urhobos want a voice in the federal politics of Nigeria they will have to give up their very intra-combative tendencies towards one another. If the majority of Urhobos cannot protect their very own teachers, doctors, journalists, children, policemen, traders, lawyers, students, artisans, farmers, chiefs, its helpless and others, how can they develop the awareness and skills to defend their senators, governors, ministers and bigwigs in quarters of power? Charity begins at home and it does stop there.
Meanwhile, the Urhobos will continue as an insignificant ethnic voice in the federal politics of Nigeria. This is primarily caused by the Urhobo people themselves (particularly the leaders) and it is up to them to sort it out with robust and enduring solutions.
The solution to what I call an Urhobo crisis of internal cooperation and coordination is the radical reorganisation of the social and cultural sphere of the Urhobo nation by way of creating internal movements for internal cohesion led by conscientious and able leaders who possess great visions of cohesion. The cost of achieving such a necessary and admirable feat but once attained, the Urhobo nation will find the love, unity and political relevance it now sorely lacks. Who is willing to pay the price? It is a price paying, and no Urhobo is exempt.
Maybe then the Urhobos can come first among other nations.