RIGHT OF REPLY
By Francis Ewherido
CONGRATULATIONS to the Dr. Urhoboyovwi Ufuoma; he just got another item on Google search engine with his diatribe on page 18 of the Vanguard of Thursday, June 21, 2018. But before I go on to other matters, let me draw his attention to the ways he spelt my surname: “Ewherido, “ “Ehwerido” and “Ewerido.” It is not cool to muddle up a pure Urhobo name EWHERIDO that way and coming from somebody who can trace his paternal and maternal Urhobo lineages even makes it less cool.
He said the President General of Urhobo Progress Union, Olorogun Moses Oghenerume Taiga, recently recruited me to write for him. That is far from the truth. I was the first person to publish articles in national newspapers supporting and promoting the candidature of Olorogun Taiga, when he indicated his interest to vie for the presidency of UPU in 2016. “A Moses to the Rescue,” Urhobo Voice, Nov.26, 2016, p. 13, and https://www.vanguardngr.com/search-results/?search=the-cap-fits-taiga are some of them. So, no be today.
Prominent and illustrious Urhobo sons such as Chief Johnson Modika Barovbe, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of Urhobo Social Club, Lagos and Prof. Peter Ekeh, President, Urhobo Historical Society, among others, were worried about the direction of UPU in 2016. They felt the UPU needed a President General of Olorogun Taiga stature to give it a new direction. They then approached and convinced him to contest the UPU presidency. Subsequently, Olorogun Taiga was presented to Urhobo Social Club, Lagos, where, by the grace of God, I am the current General Secretary. He presented his manifesto, which included establishment of Mukoro Mowoe University and establishment of a micro-finance bank for Ehweya (Urhobo women). He also promised to work towards the renovation of Urhobo College, Effrurun, and Urhobo Cultural Centre, Uvwiamughe. Finally, he promised to champion the reactivation of Sapele and Ogor technical schools so that our youths, who want to, can acquire vocational skills.
These projects were music to my ears. That was how I started championing his candidature. So Dr. Ufuoma (does he really exist), I did not start supporting Olorogun Taiga today, neither was I recruited. I work according to the dictates of my conscience; this is a project I undertook on my own volition.
Before Chief Barovbe and Prof. Ekeh approached Olorogun Taiga, other prominent Urhobos have approached him to be President General in the past. They saw his Midas touch, which people like Dr. Ufuoma, blinded by hate, can never see. As at today, the Urhobo Cultural Centre has been fenced and the renovation of the building will soon commence. The micro finance bank would have started operations by now, but the Central Bank has stopped granting of fresh licenses. But the UPU is looking for alternative means. Hopefully, it will commence operations before the year runs out. Renovation of Urhobo College, Effurun, is on and the UPU is collaborating with other critical stakeholders such as the Urhobo College Old Boys Association and the Delta State Government. The UPU is also engaging the government in bringing the technical colleges back to life. Olorogun Taiga is delivering on his campaign promises and as long as he does that, he will continue to get my support and the support of those who genuinely love the Urhobo Nation.
Dr. Ufuoma is like the proverbial dog that has covenanted to go missing; it will never hear its owner’s whistle. Dr. Onoawarie Edevwie and Prof. Peter Ekeh, secretary and president of Urhobo Historical Society, who wrote the book, Olomu and Development of Urhoboland and Western Niger Delta, have come out to explain what they wrote in the book that Ufuoma has relied on to talk about Olorogun Taiga’s patrilineage, yet he continues to wallow in his ignorance in order to fight his lost battle of labelling Olorogun Taiga as an Ijaw man, as if there is anything wrong about being Ijaw. I have told him to go to court if he feels Olorogun Taiga’s emergence as UPU President General breached the UPU constitution, but he chooses the path of ignominy by continuing to denigrate this illustrious and foremost son of the Urhobo Nation. He continues to live in his anonymity and shield his identity because he knows his real mission is evil and anti-Urhobo. I encourage all meaning Urhobos to get a copy of the book and get their information first hand.
Contrary to what Ufuoma inferred, my support for women’s rights has nothing to do with Olorogun Taiga and his lineage, paternal or maternal. Unlike him, whose search results on Google are his two hatchet jobs, I have over 300 published articles in Vanguard and other newspapers. Some of these articles, written long before Olorogun Taiga became UPU President General, fight for the rights of women and the girl child. I am forward looking and want the best for the Urhobo nation. Delta State and indeed Nigeria needs a vibrant Urhobo nation. To achieve greatness, the Urhobo Nation needs inclusiveness. We cannot afford to continue relegating some of our own because of gender or marital ties. That has always been my argument.
President Jerry Rawlings, who shaped the history of modern Ghana has paternal roots in Europe. But Ghanaians embraced him knowing full well only his mother comes from Ghana. Comparatively, of recent memory is former American President, Barrack Obama, whose father is Kenyan. That is not to compare the case of Taiga with Rawlings or Obama. Taiga’s ancestors, like many other Olomu people before them migrated from Kiagbodo and he has not denied his ancestry. For over 70 years, he has been an Olomu man until the desperation to re(take) UPU reared its ugly head. I am no longer surprised why Ufuoma is averse to legal means and has opted for the ephemeral and shifting sand of propaganda. It is the allure of the impending siagware money.
Ufuoma claimed somebody volunteered to renovate the Urhobo Cultural Centre, Uvwiamughe, but UPU under Olorogun Taiga turned down the offer. That is another cheap propaganda. No such offer came and none was rejected. If it did, when, how, who and where? Where is the evidence? This is another ogogoro joint gossip. Let me just use this opportunity to call on well meaning Urhobo sons and daughters, who are willing to help renovate the Urhobo Cultural Centre in Uvwiamughe to come out publicly. It is a noble cause, so such intentions should not be issues of assumption, rumour or be shrouded in secrecy. The Urhobo Cultural Centre project even goes beyond the only building currently standing. The original architectural design shows that the centre is a multi-billion Naira project, comprising other buildings. Interested Urhobos can come forward and also take up any of the other buildings.
Ufuoma also alleged that Olorogun Taiga has not said or done anything on the Aladja-Ogbe Ijoh unfortunate conflict. That is another shallow propaganda. Go online and check newspaper archives (Vanguard P. 12 and The Guardian P.8 of July 21, 2017, among others). That is besides behind-the-scene interventions and actions.
Our brother muddles up collaboration with the Delta State Government with political partisanship. Olorogun Taiga is an international businessman and technocrat; he has never been a card carrying party man. His interest remains Urhoboland and he has every right to collaborate with the Delta State government and get the Urhobo Nation its due. When our only Senator in the current senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, was attacked by political thugs, he condemned it; when Omo-Agege was wrongly suspended by the senate, Olorogun Taiga was in the forefront of the fight to recall him. Urhobo interest will continue to guide Olorogun Taiga in his actions.
Francis Ewherido, a business executive, wrote from Lagos.