By JESUTEGA ONOKPASA
As we approach the 2019 polls when all Urhobos would do well to close ranks and rally round the leadership of our umbrella platform, the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, it would appear that a handful of our fellow tribesmen can only interpret the coming challenge as an occasion for further disuniting our ethnic nationality.
Of late, certain persons one feels strongly inclined to write off as poorly exposed hack writers, have been busy in the media, claiming that UPU, President-General, Olorogun Moses Taiga is not an Urhobo man, because according to them, it is his mother, and not his father, that is Urhobo. This is besides sundry other affronts Olorogun Taiga has been accused of.
In the very first place, the notion that somebody’s father must be Urhobo for such person to be Urhobo has no basis in Urhobo history, heritage, tradition or culture and it is merely the product of the village mentality of a brood of unproductive and misogynistic never-do-wells whose only claim to distinction is that they are males even if they have nothing else to show as their achievements in life.
In Urhobo, women have equal right of inheritance to their father’s property with their male siblings and many enterprising Urhobos in history as well as those alive today who have contributed greatly to the development of our land are Urhobos through what ultimately turns out to be a maternal line.
According to the Constitution, a person is a citizen of this country by birth if either of his parents, male or female is a citizen of Nigeria or, at any rate, a member of any community indigenous to Nigeria. To claim local government of origin, the law entitles us to either claim that of our father or mother, provided we do not lay claim to two local government areas of origin at the same time. Thank God his detractors acknowledge his mother is Urhobo.
I am not going to insult my President-General whom I know loves Urhobo from the bottom of his heart by interrogating him where his father came from or did not come from. His beloved mother being indisputably an Urhobo is more than enough for me.
If however, it is indeed true that his father is an Ijaw from Kiagbodo or indeed anywhere else for that matter, then I would urge Olorogun Taiga to stand his ground and insist it is enough that his mother is Urhobo for him to be fully and authentically Urhobo.
Yet, if we may ask, has Moses Taiga ever identified as anything other than an Urhobo man. All my life, I have only known him to be an Urhobo quite proud of his Urhobo roots who has never ever identified at any time as an Ijaw. What is my business if his brothers in Warri are rumoured to have claimed to be Ijaws of Kiagbodo? People can claim to come from anywhere.
Brothers of the same father play international football for different countries and have even met on opposite sides of the field of play at the world cup! And, in any case, these poorly educated writers, who keep referring to Kiagbodo in their laughable write-ups, have any of them ever been to Kiagbodo?
It is extremely difficult to restrictively compartmentalise anyone from Kiagbodo into strict categories of either Urhobo or Ijaw. Most people from Kiagbodo are somehow both Urhobo and Ijaw including the Clark-Bekederemos and so attempting to over-stress who is what may well turn out to be a fool’s errand at the end of the day.
This idea of is your father from such and such a place is the bane of Urhobo progress. For God’s sake a man is ultimately a member of the tribe to which his heart belongs regardless of the gender of the parent through whom he originates from that tribe. This is one of the reasons why I like Itsekiri people despite the disagreements I have had with a few of them in the past.
They not only welcome their sons and daughters whose fathers belong to other tribes but in fact actively entice such persons to identify as Itsekiris to their gain and the loss of such other tribes. Some of the most prominent Itsekiris you might have ever heard of are paternally Urhobo, Ijaw or from elsewhere.
The insolence of shadowy characters we have never heard of, who have never contributed anything to the development of Urhobo or coughed out money from their pockets to fight for any Urhobo cause casting aspersions on eminent Urhobo sons who have contributed their quota in placing Urhobo on the world map must be discouraged going forward.
I would go so far as to recommend a complete paradigm shift in how qualification for representation, recognition, commendation and honour is determined in Urhobo land and it should no longer have anything to do with where anybody’s father might have come from. The one, overriding requirement should be whether such person loves Urhobo and has shown it vide his deeds.
After all, many of the traitors we have in Urhobo land as well as the army of incurable opportunists who are always quick to rush to the front to represent Urhobo when they have no love for our tribe and have absolutely nothing to offer their fellow Urhobos are persons whose fathers are Urhobos.
It cannot be fair that unproductive failures who have never empowered, encouraged, brought up or assisted any Urhobo son or daughter should be the ones lecturing the rest of us who a genuine Urhobo man is.
As for those well-known hustlers whose only conceptualisation of being UPU President is to rely on the post as an avenue for lining their pockets, we are happy to report that in Olorogun Moses Taiga, we now have a UPU President-General who does not need government bribes or patronage to survive and whom all right-thinking Urhobos can rely on to fight for the interests of our great, ancient and noble ethnic nationality, going forward.
This trend of playing politics with absolutely everything is most disheartening. It is simply morally reprehensible that Taiga is being harangued for allegedly bestowing a chieftaincy title on Delta State Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
Taiga himself has clarified that he never bestowed a chieftaincy title on Governor Okowa and that he couldn’t have, since he is not a king. All he did was to recognise the Governor by means of a nickname, a device called odovar amongst the Urhobo and that is the truth because I was there.
I had happened to be at the Government House that day to see the Governor on a different issue entirely. While having already entered his office, His Excellency, in his trademark polite manner, asked me to wait because he had to attend to my people who had just arrived. I was quite happy to see that my Governor did not want to keep Urhobo leaders waiting and was satisfied to wait patiently while he attended to the elders of my tribe.
All Taiga called him was “Ochuko’r’Urhobo” by way of odova and justifiably so for if we are to put tribal sentiments aside, Okowa is quietly bringing real, visible and verifiable development to bear across Urhoboland. Anyone can bear odova and be referred to by odova so why not a Governor?
In fact, many Urhobos have multiple odovars and one of my own odovas is Unurokwedor, a name that seems to follow me, since throughout my life, I have always ended up having the last laugh, even to the extent that those who once disparaged me usually end up commending me.
Indeed, my prayer is that Olorogun Moses Taiga will similarly have the last laugh over the miserable rabble of nonentities currently disparaging the incontestable achiever he is.
Onokpasa, a lawyer, wrote from Warri.