Jesutega Onokpasa, a Delta State based lawyer and human rights activist in this interview speaks on the Urhobo Nation’s controversial Uvwiamuge Declaration, the prospect of the Urhobos winning the Delta State governorship election and other burning national issues. Excerpts.
By Godwin Oghre
What is your take on the Uvwiamuge Declaration?
The Uvwiamuge Declaration can be interpreted from the perspective of an ethnic nationality, specifically the Urhobos who felt they had been serially marginalized in the past eight years and were in danger of further marginalization possibly for yet another eight year stretch unless they took drastic measures to arrest their unwarranted exclusion from decision making in a state in which they occupy an entire Senatorial District.
It is an article of faith amongst Urhobos in reaction to grossly unfair treatment at the hands of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, both at state as well as at federal level. Mind you, it is within the rights not only of the Urhobos but indeed of absolutely any other ethnic group to take lawful steps to safeguard its interests. That is exactly what the Uvwiamuge Declaration seeks to achieve.
Do you think the Urhobos can win the Governorship election while having two Governorship candidates against one from Anioma?
I can assure you that Urhobos are certainly one of the most resourceful and politically aware people you are ever likely to meet. The issue of fielding two candidates does not arise at all. My fellow Urhobos I know will close ranks and vote massively for just one candidate and my scientific projection is that they will vote for Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, of the All Progressive Congress, APC, as the man who qualifies for their votes both under the Uvwiamuge declaration and by any other criteria for assessing someone as fit and proper to hold the office of Governor of Delta State.
As for Anioma fielding one candidate, how many people from Aniocha/Oshimili can confidently claim ownership of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as one of them? Their own eminently qualified candidates were all deceived by the PDP to key into the race while the party had a hidden agenda all along. They were all milked dry before being used and dumped by the PDP as usual.
As for the Ndokwa/Ukwuani axis, they were not even carried along at all. Mind you, this is the only part of Delta North that belonged to the original Delta Province and they were just relegated to the background like second class citizens despite their enormous oil wealth. Who is going to tolerate such nonsense from PDP?
Why do you say Urhobos will cast their votes to O’tega and not Ogboru?
The question does not and cannot even arise. For Delta State to move forward O’tega Emerhor simply has to become our next governor or our beloved state is doomed. Why should I vote for Ogboru? Have we not voted for him more than enough already? Must we keep voting for him forever? We have already voted for a man four times before with nothing to show for it and we are supposed to now queue up under the hot sun to vote for him for a record fifth time? Is he feeding us? I don’t reason like that. Ogboru has come and gone.
He tried his best but now it is O’tega’s turn and thankfully he is backed by the right platform. The APC has demonstrated in numerous states across Nigeria that it can defeat and indeed disgrace the PDP. We are going to repeat the miracle that brought Oshiomole to Edo right here in Delta. My vote and the vote of every other single Delta yearning for change will enthusiastically go to O’tega without apologies to anyone.
How would you comment on the role of Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, towards the actualization of the dream of the Urhobos to produce the next governor of the state?
Let me start by reminding Chief Joe Omene that in Urhobo land no one rules by force, by subterfuge, or by bribery and corruption. Sooner or later you will certainly be shown the way out if not booed or booted out if you refuse to bow out when the ovation is loudest. Have the Urhobos suddenly become errand boys to the Ijaws? That is certainly not going to happen. The idea that Urhobos should have voted for Jonathan and then later Jonathan will turn his back against his own fellow party man Okowa, and single handedly make Ogboru the Governor is another episode of Tales by Moonlight. Is it the same Jonathan who was jittery about his own prospects of returning to office that can miraculously single handedly impose Ogboru on the rest of Delta? How do some people even reason?