By Francis Ewherido
Yes, politics is here and you are formally welcomed to the season of omuru(misbehavior) and omuta (loose talks). Nowhere is this more rampant than in my beloved Delta State. It comes latently and obviously. When it is latent, you need the spirit of discernment to know the story beneath the story.
And it came to pass that on page 18 of the Vanguard of May 30, 2018, we read the lamentations of one Dr. Urhoboyovwi Ufuoma, whose Urhobo ancestors (not mine) are in tears. Dr. Ufuoma is a public analyst, yet his only commentary thrown up by Google search is his story titled, UPU: Our Ancestors are in Tears. The author of the article claims he can trace his Urhobo genealogy to the sixth generation and beyond both paternally and maternally, yet he hides his identity. So much for a courageous and concerned Urhobo son.
While we were still laughing over his elementary school boy media tricks, he manifests again on page 45 of last Sunday Vanguard as Dr. David Okiemute. Google the name and you will find out there is no such person; they are just spineless individuals who claim to have genuine love for the Urhobo Nation, but cannot reveal their identities. It is amazing how some people can be in this age of internet and social media.
But make no mistake about it; the attacks on the President General of Urhobo Progress Union, Olorogun Moses Taiga, are coming from two main sources. One, general elections are here and some people’s source of livelihood, the Urhobo Progress Union, has been taken away from them. They are fighting to reposition themselves to attract visits from politicians and the accompanying siagware. So, Olorogun Taiga, a septuagenarian, who has been an Urhobo man all his life, has metamorphosed into an Ijaw man overnight because of dirty politics and infantile propaganda.
Thank God, my paternal grandmother, Mrs. Madagwa Ewherido Akpomrughe (She was Ohimor’s half sister), hailed from Okpare, the same town Olorogun Moses Taiga hails from. I have always known him to be an Okpare man. His only country home, an iconic landmark is near an aderha (three way junction) in Okpare. His grandfather’s grave is in Okpare; his father, who was Okpako r’orere of Okpare, died at the age of 106 and his grave is in Okpare. Oh, maybe, Taiga’s family was too poor to transport his father’s and grandfather’s remains to Kiagbodo, his supposed hometown, which is just a stone throw away from Okpare and in fact shares boundary with Ovwodokpokpo, an Olomu town. Taiga was also too poor to transport building materials to Kiagbodo; that was why he built his country home in Okpare. He was also too poor to transport building materials to Kiagbodo; that was why he built the ultra-modern St. Joseph Catholic Church, in Okpare. Incidentally, Joseph is Olorogun Moses Taiga’s father’s baptismal name.
When the late trio from Evwreni, Mukoro Mowoe, Jereton Marierie and Jabin Asiditor Obahor, were working in Okpare in the colonial days, they were very close to Taiga Zeze, Olorogun Taiga’s father. So when the visionary, determined and focused Mukoro Mowoe, under the auspices of Urhobo Progress Union, was going round the Urhobo Nation raising funds to sponsor Urhobo sons for undergraduate studies, he enlisted the help of his old friend, Taiga Zeze, to go round Olomu to raise funds for Mcneil Gabriel Ejaife (the first Urobo graduate) and G. N. Igho. I learnt a large-hearted Mowoe also extended the undergraduate scholarships to Chief Sam J. Okudu from Delta Ijaw and Professor Tekena Tamuno from Okrika, Rivers State, who later became the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. As far back as the 50s, Mowoe already knew the importance of collaborating with our neighbours, yet some people in 2018 are disparaging the Ijaws because they want to takeover UPU by fire, by force! Anyway, these faceless people should come out and list the contributions of their forefathers to Urhoboland. At least they boast of tracing their genealogy to the sixth generation and beyond.
Olomu people’s progenitors migrated from Igboland, Benin and Kiagbodo; that has never been in contention. Alaka, from Igbo; Igboze from Benin and Oghoro from Kiagbodo, a name which the Ohworode of Olomu Kingdom, HRM, Ovie Richard Layeguen Ogbon, Ogoni-Oghoro 1, proudly answers. The following towns in Olomu are descendants of Oghoro: Ovwodokpokpo, Ovwor, Umolo, Ogoni, Ophorigbala, Aloba, and Okpare, where Taiga hails from. So his Ijaw ancestry is no secret, so also are Olomu people from these towns.
Urhobo is a patrilineal society, no doubt (although I have issues with a culture that shuts out some of its best and brightest and my thoughts are well documented in my articles: Omotejohwo, Where are the white Urhobos and What is Urhobo interest and who defines it), so the issue is Taiga’spatrilineage. His Urhobo matrilineage is not in question. What does the UPU constitution say about eligibility to contest UPU positions? Has Olorogun Moses Taiga breached it by whatever origin his traducers ascribe to him? If yes, either obviously or by inference, they should go to court. That is what the courts are meant for in current modern societies that we live in: adjudication and interpretation (of constitutions). After all, some people are already in court challenging the process that threw him up as President General of UPU.
But no, the second group of traducers will not go through the proper channel; they will rather resort to cheap blackmail, sterile propaganda and selfish trouble shooting. They want to get the leadership of UPU through the back door and have recruited some unsuspecting prominent Urhobo people and elders to help prosecute their selfish agenda. On January 1, 2017, while the rest of mankind was celebrating the New Year with their loved ones, some of us left our families and travelled by road to Delta State, after our flights were cancelled due to bad weather, to enable us participate in the UPU election that eventually brought Olorogun Taiga in as PG. the road was so lonely that between the outskirts of Lagos and Benin, we could count the number of vehicles we passed on the way on our fingers. We crossed many rivers and surmounted many obstacles to get to this stage.
Meanwhile, these people stood by idly watching UPU slide. Now they are going behind on contrived rescue mission. Unfortunately, they have lured our elder who presided over the election that brought Taiga and his executives to power into their plot. The Urhobo Nation must be vigilant. It has happened before. Many with selfish agenda clothe it in Urhobo interest to hoodwink the Urhobo Nation. There is nothing Urhobo interest about the ongoing attacks on Taiga. It is all selfish and personal.
The only mistake they made was to assume that Olorogun Taiga is lily-livered like them who hide under ghost names. I say this to the man behind the fake names : Have you not heard the saying that you do not scare a veteran prostitute with the size of your manhood, no matter how enormous? She has seen and taken in all. You do not get to the level Olorogun Taiga has reached by being chicken-hearted. Continue with your mudslinging; continue with your fruitless efforts to fill your basket with water.
Anybody who has issues with the process that threw up Taiga or his Urhobo patrilineage should go to court. After all, they claim they have watertight documentary evidence. They also claim that Taiga has a very weak case. So why the underground moves? Until the courts throw out Taiga and his executives, they remain executives of UPU whatever those opposing them claim are their human shortcomings or the defect in the process that brought them to power. As far as those of us who worked towards his election and believe in his UPU executive are concerned, the earthen pot is not bent, not to talk of falling, breaking and spilling its content. We are watching him and will ultimately hold him accountable in respect of his campaign promises: setting up Mukoro Mowoe University, starting a micro finance bank for the ewheyas,among others. These are what we consider to be Urhobo interest and the basis for our support. We are monitoring and progress is being made.
Politics is in the air and we are in a season of omuru and omuta. The UPU executive visited the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, recently. During the visit, they gave the government knocks for shortchanging the Urhobo Nation in DESOPADEC, among others. In the same vein, they thanked him for launching the JS 1 to JS 3 books for study of Urhobo language and his promise to help out with the renovation of the dilapidated Urhobo Cultural Centre in Uvwiamughe, Agbarho. It is part of Urhobo culture to thank anybody who provides support. And supporter in Urhobo means “Ochuko.” So the UPU PG called the governor “Ochuko r’Urhobo.”
Before the UPU delegation left Asaba, a story was already trending in social media that the Urhobo Nation bestowed the title of Ochuko r’Urhobo on the governor. By the next day, it was in the newspapers. The UPU is a social cultural body, not a traditional institution and the UPU PG is an elected officer, not a traditional ruler. This ought to be obvious to everybody. So how could UPU have bestowed a traditional title on the governor? Moreover, and on a very good note as far as I am concerned, the governor has not accepted any chieftaincy title since he came to power. How come he is being reported as accepting a traditional title? The next thing, sycophants will start addressing him as Ochuko r’Urhobo I of Urhobo Kingdom just as they call him Ekwueme!
That was a very cheap and disingenuous media stunt on the part of the government officials. We do have our internal issues in Urhoboland, but they should not ridicule the UPU, the UPU PG and the Urhobo Nation. By now they should have known that propaganda is a house built with sand on sand by the seashore. Edo is working, Cross Rivers is working and even rabble rousing Rivers is working. Delta State government should work instead of hanging on to straws.
For now, enjoy this season of omuru and omuta