Ugoesa Huxley Adiniebo Unumadu is a popular face in the socio-cultural and political space of Delta State, especially in his home BASE AT Ukwani Local Government Area. Also known as Mr. Tourism, Prince Unumadu, who is the Izomo of Umuebu kingdom, in Ukwani Local Government area, has sustained his image of a social critic, and a change agent, as he remained troubled by the persistent failure of government and the Nigeria system to re-engineer the social, cultural, economic and political life of the nation’s citizenry and make life more meaningful for the people.
On the issue of the development trajectory of his home base, of Ukwani Local Government Area, which is a part of Ndokwa Ethic nationality of Delta State, Prince Unumadu, is angry that even in this 21st century, his people of Ndokwa nation are still asleep politically and as a result, their age-long marginalization continues to manifest, mostly as a result of ineffective leadership by their leaders in the political front.
In this interview with our reporter, he bares his mind on the issue of neglect and marginalization of his people and suggested how the leaders and the people could work together to overcome this challenge, ahead 2023 elections, to raise the political profile of his people of Ndokwa ethnic race in Delta State.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
Questions: You have not been showing much interest in politics as you show in cultural and tourism activism and advocacy. Don’t you think political participation will further your actualization of interests in other areas, as a public figure?
Answers:Yes! But I’m not very comfortable with the political realities of these days, it is because the active players, especially in my area, are too consumed with protecting their personal interests and pulling down their real and perceived enemies. This why they say politics is dirty. Politics, in the true sense of it is not dirty, but some of its players are very dirty, very unrefined and very blind to reason.
Yes, I’m a politician. I’m a bona fide member of PDP and I once aspired to contest the house of Assembly election. These day, my kind of politics is about what get to my people and land. About human empowerment, and my peace of mind.
I also believe that when we get done with electing and enthroning our leaders, we should further support, encourage and inspire them to work. This we must do before we assess them to determine whether they’ve performed well or not.
For instance, the leaders in office in my local government are Rt. Hon. Ochor Chris Ochor, the honourable deputy speaker of the House and Hon. Barrister Solomon Ajede, the chairman of my Local Government Area in Ukwani. What we’re doing now is to support them, encourage them and inspire them to work. We shouldn’t fight or discourage them with unnecessary opposition. They came in with their new vision and styles. We must give them time to actualize their vision and support them when necessary. They are complete gentlemen who have intelligent ideas to raise the profile and fortune of our Local Government Area to the top.
Our people have been neglected and marginalized by past administrations in the state and our land, Ndokwa/Ukwani ethnic nation have been marginalized to no end. And we’re suffering it today, the reason is mostly because our leaders in the past, especially in the fold of Chief Patrick Osakwe in the Senate, Rep. Mercy Almona-Isei in the House of Representatives and Hon. Paul Okpue and others in the State Assembly, beginning from 1999 were so weak and inept that they sat aloft and watched as Ndokwa nation was kicked into the dust bin of Delta State politics. This was the most unfortunate era and the most glaring period of Ndokwa marginalization in our political history.
Then, when we blame the political class of 1999 to 2010 or so, we must also put blame on the shoulders of Ndokwa elites; business, professionals, academics and the Ndokwa Diaspora people who watched and did nothing when the conspiracies against Ndokwa nation was being hatched in the political incubator.
Questions: What exactly are the incidents of the marginalization you’re talking about?
Answer: Okay, Lets look at the statistics; Ndokwa is the only ethnic nation in the state which does not have a state or federal institution. There is a tertiary institution, either state or federal or both in Urhobo, Ijaw, Isoko, Aniocha, Ika. Ndokwa is the only ethnic group which has not been so blessed.
There’s Delta varsities in Abraka, with campuses at Oleh (Isoko and Anwai-Asaba. Ex-Government Ibori Established four (4) new Polytechnics in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Ozoro (Isoko), Oghara (Urhobo) and Mosagar, also Urhobo. There was also school of Nursing at Agbor, college of Education in Warri and Institute of Marine Technology in Bomadi also Asaba is the State Capital with a Federal College of Education. There is also, School of Midwifery in Sapele, School of Health Technology Ufuoma and the Eku Baptist Hospital Eku has been taken over by Government and upgrade to a specialist hospital. This is also the case for the General Hospital at Agbor which is now a Specialist Hospital.
On the political front, Urhobo has served as GOVERNOR. Ika has served as deputy Governor, Aniocha has served as Deputy, Ijaw is serving as deputy now, Isoko and Urhobo have served as speaker of the house of Assembly.
In terms of infrastructural development, you will notice that Ndokwa nation got the least number of road projects, when you compare what exists in other ethnic groups since 1999.
Equally in terms of appointments, you will also see the neglect of Ndokwa people in juicy appointive offices from Federal down to the state levels.
And come to think, Ndokwa is the second largest ethnic nation in Delta State, which occupies an entire senatorial district. In Delta North Senatorial district, where Ndokwa belongs, we (Ndokwa) is the largest ethnic group. Also, Ndokwa land is the only oil and Gas producing land in Delta North, so we are expected to be the toast of Delta North, but that isn’t the case. This is so unfair, so painful indeed!.
Question: Where and how did your leaders missed it?
Answer: The issue of Ndokwa marginalization is age-long. It has been with us far so long, especially since the defunct Bedel State.
I can recall that our political light began to shine during the days of Odinga late Chief Lious Ijeoma of Aboh, who emerged speaker of then, Bendel State House of Assembly in Benin, during the short lived Governorship of Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia who took over from Prof. Ambbrose Alli, as Governor of then Bendel State. Then too, an Ndokwa man Chief Alumona Anoka was chairman of the NPN in Bendel State. If you can remember, Alhaji Shehu Shagari served as President from 1979-1983 and was one year into his second term when he was over thrown by the Buhari military regime. At the state level then (Bendel), the UPN served the first term under Ambrose Alli, (1979 -1982) and couldn’t make a second term because Ogbemudia of NPN took over and returned Bendel to the national level. So, the Ogbemudia-Lious Ijeoma era would have witnessed the reversal of Ndokwa marginalization but that dispensation was short lived. Since then, the Ndokwa leaders who have had the privilege to get either elective or appointive offices where so week that they could not project Ndokwa’s interest. Instead, their selfishness led them to collect tokens from their political masters and stand aloof and watch, while development and other dividends of democracy where use to favor the ethnic groups of their political masters.
Indeed, if we must move forward, we (Ndokwa) must push active, strong, vibrant, courageous and effective leaders forward to work for us, and insist on equity, fairness and justice in sharing the dividends of democracy in the state.
Questions: As preparations for 2023 elections heats up, what direction is Ndokwa facing?
Answer: Ndokwa is simply not positioning for anything ahead 2023 politics, whether in PDP or in opposition APC. Ndokwa is simply docile. There’s this saying that says if you don’t prepare for a particular direction for the future, you will be pushed to anywhere by those who are prepared.
You can see the spirited effort the Delta Ijaws are putting into their politics for 2023 governorship. To tell you the truth, they may be interested in getting the governorship, but the effort they’re putting is simply to position them as significant stakeholders, to enable them to negotiate from a strong position. So, even if the governorship eludes them, their plan B would be to get a good share of what comes out of 2023.
Ndokwa is not making any such effort thinking or strategy to get the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or even the 4th position comes 2023.
This is how Ndokwa leaders are failing.
Ask Ossai Ossai now, he is preparing for his return to the House of Reps. Ask Ndokwa Neku Union, they are waiting for Chief E.K Clark to invite them for Niger Delta meeting. They’re not thinking of what gets to Ndokwa or becomes of Ndokwa in the count down to 2023.
And this is the time to think and work towards what gets to your ethnic group in politics, if you’re an ethnic leader.
So, what are even people like our political appointees thinking and doing? They may simply be thinking and strategizing for what gets to them, and not what gets to Ndokwa/Ukwani. It’s indeed a shame.