By Ufuoma Eugene Ohwevwo
Obviously, the story of the Urhobo people, the largest ethnic nationality in Delta State, and the fifth largest in Nigeria, is characterized by records of challenges of various natures. But about the major challenge the Urhobo nation have had to deal with since the early decades of the 20th century, is the socio-political challenge.
The Urhobo nation, despite its demographic strong point and huge contribution to the Nigerian economy, hinged on the vast crude oil and natural gas deposits in its territory, continues to be marginalized and relegated in the scheme of things in the Nigerian federation.
The situation has apparently grown worse since the present political dispensation, as a careful study of the distribution of national offices/positions at the legislative, executive and federal civil service and other institutions or agencies of the federal government, reveals a gory anecdote for the Urhobo nation.
For instance, in each occasion the Urhobo have been privileged to be appointed into the federal executive council since the wake of the present political dispensation, they’ve been routinely and characteristically designated to insignificant ministries. And even more often as junior ministers.
Ironically, in terms of education as an element of social and technical equipment for effectively functioning at any level of political endeavour in Nigeria, and indeed the world, the Urhobo is among the best equipped in the country; being among the top ten groups with the highest concentration of professors and lawyers per capita.
The situation is not different either in the legislative arm of government, where leadership positions in both chambers of the National Assembly since 1999, has continued to elude the Urhobo. Worse still, is the fact that, committees chaired by Urhobo legislators are usually of no strategic importance, this is as people from smaller ethnic groups are routinely given the control of sensitive committees such as energy, petroleum, agriculture, industry and education.
Perhaps, if population is an important element of power in democracy why then is the Urhobo nation being denied the benefit of occupying sensitive and senior ministerial portfolios? And also, why are her legislators being denied the opportunity of holding principal officers positions in the National Assembly?
Though, while the Nigerian federation has not been fair to the Urhobo, and the Urhobo people earnestly crave that this unjust treatment be addressed with the seriousness it deserves by the Nigerian establishment, Urhobo political actors, particularly her political leaders cannot be alienated from the untoward situation the Urhobo nation finds itself today.
Most Urhobo political leaders, have since the present political dispensation, pursued their personal and group aggrandizement over that of Urhobo general interest. This retrogressive attitude among Urhobo political leaders has unfortunately turned out to be the greatest cog to Urhobo political progress in the 21st century. And unless this attitude is disposed of by her leaders, the Urhobo nation could just be on a steady downward spiral into political insignificance in the Nigerian federation.
However, despite the unpatriotic attitude of a good number of Urhobo political leaders, there is one Urhobo political leader who is clearly working unswervingly to resuscitate the socio-political fortunes of the Urhobo nation, and he is the present Senator representing the Urhobo nation at the National Assembly, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege.
Sen. Omo-Agege, has since his assumption of office initiated legislations at the National Assembly that has impacted in no little way on the general wellbeing and development of the Urhobo nation and its people.
It is apparently not surprising that all well-meaning and patriotic Urhobo are clamouring for his re-election to the National Assembly.
The Urhobo nation would certainly be doing itself a great good, if political leaders like Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, who are tenaciously committed to their social contract with the people, are vested with their mandate.
There is no doubt that, if the Urhobo nation must take its pride of place in the competitive Nigerian socio-political space, only well-meaning and pan-Urhobo political leaders like Sen. Omo-Agege, must be encouraged to represent them at all levels of government.
It is important that, as 2019 general election approaches, the Urhobo nation must be thoroughly vigilant to do away with pretentious and egocentric politicians with history of betrayal of Urhobo national interests.
- Ohwevwo lives Sapele, Delta State in firstname.lastname@example.org