By Williams Ilerhijele Makinde, FCA, PhD
When the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) was founded in 1931 as the Urhobo Brotherly Society, the founders wanted to advance Urhobo interest in the emergent order evolving from the experience of colonialism.
The founders looked around them and saw that the Urhobo were frustrated, disorganized, confused and not reckoned with in the new scheme of things. They saw a bleak future for the Urhobo people and felt the need to intervene and redirect their course.
It was that intervention that gave birth to the Urhobo Brotherly Society which blossomed into the UPU. Once it got traction, the UPU spoke and acted for the Urhobo nation in all matters.
Of necessity, the UPU got involved in politics when it was expedient for her to do so just like other socio-cultural organizations.
It has been said in some quarters that the UPU has never been partisan. This has been misunderstood to mean that the UPU has never intervened in politics. That the UPU has never intervened in politics is not true.
Perhaps an explanation will suffice. The essence of the non-partisanship of the UPU has been that she has never supported one party over another where Urhobo are involved in the parties concerned. The UPU always supported qualified and capable Urhobo sons and daughters irrespective of political parties. Hence, the UPU will have in her fold sons and daughters running for the same office in different political parties and support them with prayers and mobilization.
However, when the UPU senses a threat to Urhobo political interest she would wade in, intervene and ensure a collective alignment with the most qualified and capable Urhobo aspirant or candidate. That was why the UPU successfully mobilized for Chief Daniel Okumagba, Chief Felix Ibru and others in time past. It is no aberration.
As pointed out in the opening paragraph, the UPU primarily sets out to project and advance Urhobo interest. The question to follow is, what constitutes Urhobo interest, how is it defined and identified? The answer is simple. The most important of Urhobo interest is politics. This is because every good thing will come when we get it right politically.
Urhobo interest is defined by politics because contemporary development is tied to politics. So, if politics defines and directs everything and it is core to the advancement of Urhobo interest, why should the UPU get insulated from politics?
Insisting that the UPU should not intervene politically is a sure recipe for disaster for the Urhobo nation and this is the standpoint and antics of those who do not wish us well.
There is no reason why the UPU should not intervene even if she is not directly involved in politics.
The foregoing background is necessary in view of a few negative but unwarranted comments flying around criticizing the endorsement of the governorship aspirations of Chief David Edevbie by the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU).
Certain points need to be made. The UPU acted wisely and decisively. The UPU in settling for Edevbie has chosen the best Urhobo governorship material in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
The publication endorsing Edevbie also made it clear that the UPU will also interface with other political parties and endorse the best Urhobo aspirants on board those parties.
The general understanding in Delta State is that it is the turn of the Urhobo to produce the Governor come 2023. Therefore, endorsing the most qualified Urhobo aspirants across the political parties is a win-win situation.
Some of those taking the UPU to task over the endorsement were also the ones castigating the UPU for doing nothing as recent as a month ago.
Now the UPU has spoken and acted wisely and the same elements are taking up arms.
In whose interest are these few people acting? Who are their paymasters? Who is propping them to destroy the Urhobo nation? Why have they chosen to play the enemy within (ivwreghen uwevwi)?
The UPU has been rightly described as the umbrella socio-cultural body, revered organization, foremost group and in other such enduring and endearing terms. Above all the UPU is not just over ninety years old, but the oldest socio-cultural organization in Nigeria and probably all of Africa. Why can’t these misguided few see the UPU in her reverential essence and say Urhobotanure (Urhobo has spoken) and fall in line? No, they must kick and pull one another down like uncharitable crabs.
This is a clarion call to all Urhobo sons and daughters that they should put personal interest aside and embrace the UPU and the direction she is indicating that we should follow.
Right now atamu (one voice one action) is of the essence. That is how Mukoro Mowoe, Jereton Mariere, Adogbeji Salubi, Michael Ibru, Daniel Okumagba and the other avatars would have embraced and implemented the present endorsement.
The UPU has spoken and it is Urhobotanure! Let Urhobo continue to speak with one voice and act in unison.
We are aware that because of selfish and personal interest some of our sons and daughters occupying political offices are being blackmailed, intimidated and enticed to oppose the endorsement of Chief David Edevbie. We enjoin them to be true emuvwie (true born) and resist such temptations and offers. They should realize that in the end only their people matter. They should not betray Urhobo which God created them to be. Let us all heed this clarion call.