In a gathering
of Urhobo think tank people recently (2007) in London, with such calibre of people and dignitaries as Chief Dr E. K.
Clark, Chief S. S. Obruche the President of Urhobo Historical Society London, Chief P. A. Wanogho President of UPU London
Branch for many years, Mr E. J. Okorode President of Urhobo Social and Cultural Club London and many other important personalities
all in attendance, some of the attendees observed that there exists a gap caused by disunity among the people
of Urhobo as a nation and something was needed to be done about this. Weeks after this meeting, those attendees who observed
the gap met about taking some action to do something about the situation.
At the forefront
of organisations responsible for the co-ordination of Urhobo socio-cultural matters is the UPU. This is a formidable organisation
formed several years back (1931) to represent the entire Urhobo nation in the gathering of nations that collectively formed
the country Nigeria. The pioneers of UPU fought relentlessly to achieve this onerous task at
that time. Then the UPU President was the singular voice of the Urhobo people. But over the years this seemed not
to be the case as the Urhobo people became more individualistic and selfish doing their own thing their own ways. And as a
matter of fact, Urhobo nation has over the years grown bigger, more diversed and more sophisticated than as the case was several
years back when UPU was formed. So we see today that the unity required for the Urhobo people to have a singular voice is
no more there and as such something needs to be done to restore and foster Urhobo unity or togetherness or solidity.
The task is now onerous and should not to be left for UPU alone to bear.
In a speech
presented recently by (Senator) Olorogun Felix Ibru at the 3rd General Convention of UPU 2007 here in London, he mentioned
that Urhobo was likened to an Elephant (Urhobo K'eni) but now no longer an elephant and enjoined all Urhobos to look into
the matter for something to be done urgently. In fact, the formation of this organisation is partly in response to this call
from Olorogun Felix Ibru.
The Urhobo Social and Cultural Club:
we have Urhobo Social and Cultural Club that emerged. And as the name is, the organisation as a club took the position of
bringing to the fore the Social and Cultural perspectives of Urhobos as a people. But that has not totally catered for the
yearning of the people in other aspects of life including Economic Development of the area.
The Urhobo Historical Society:
Historical Society then took upon itself with the role of enlightenment of the people with the historical development of the
Urhobo people: their background, growth, development and individual achievements. These were recently compiled and published
as a Special calendar for the year 2007. In fact, it is more than a calendar. It
is better described as a documentary piece of work. The UHS has done much to have published this for the consumption of the
general public. But there is still a lot to be done. The disunity and individualistic tendencies of the Urhobo people still
exists as a bane.
Other Groups :
many other smaller groups and clubs that operate at regional or local levels within Delta
State or just within some local government areas. Some clubs are even
within the scope of the town or city where they are formed.
The Ivies and Oloroguns:
individual clan (or kingdom) level, we have the Ivies and Chiefs (Oloroguns) who are the fathers and custodian of Urhobo culture
to whom all the other organisations and clubs associate with and obtain credence, support and advice. But the Ivies mainly
operate individually within their respective clans. Although they formed the Council of Ivies, they have not been able to
come up with one singular Urhobo voice for Urhobo people in the comity of nations of Nigeria.
these analyses we see that there is this gap in fulfilling the aspirations of the Urhobo people of producing an
Urhobo voice/leader that represents the Urhobo people at State, National and International levels.
Role of Chief E. K. Clark and Chief Benjamin Okumagba in recent times (2007):
of the vulnerable position of the Urhobo people in the present dispensation and the possibility of marginalisation of this
populous and formidable group of people that is a force to reckon with in the Delta State as the majority and fifth group
(or thereabout ) in the country, Nigeria as a whole; our able fathers of Chief E. K. Clark and Chief Benjamin Okumagba came
together to work together to fight together for a common cause of purpose for the actualisation of our aspirations. This turn
came as a result of these two leaders realising the problem of Urhobos not being totally united as a people but everyone operating
individually. These two leaders have really fought for the Urhobo people that their contributions to the development and progress
of Urhobo is worthy of commendation. We at Urhobo Bridge use this write up to say “thank you sirs” to
these our able and patriotic fathers.
these two leaders are getting of age. They are in their seventies/eighties now. Their present crusade requires them to travel
long journeys to different places for special meetings, negotiations, consultations, etc. Soon they will need to retire and
rest to become advisers and consultants in Urhobo matters.
The URHOBO BRIDGE UK:
As the name
signifies and from the background information above, this organisation is formed for the following reasons:
1. To provide the “Bridge” or “Link” or “Connection” among all the Urhobo people
and organisations that serve the Urhobo people. It has been seen that the other groups and organisations are operating individually
in their own sphere of formation. But the Urhobo people as a nation in the 21st century needed to operate more
as a corporate body rather than individually. We see nations forming a larger organisation (but each component still maintaining
their identity) to produce a big voice. For instance, the European Union that combines the forces of all its member nations
gets things done faster and better for the benefit of member nations with that formidable might and voice from all member
nations and producing one voice of purpose. The same is true of the African Union. Also the USA operates along similar lines. Urhobo nation should not and cannot be an exemption.
We need one voice of purpose to move forward.
2. Urhobo as a nation needs to gel together all the individualistic groups (But not a merger
advocated for) so that it will be possible to produce a singular voice that represents the voice of the Urhobo
people like we see in other communities.
3. To provide the avenue for bringing together the activities and efforts of the individuals, clubs, groups and organisations
that handle one aspect of Urhobo affairs or the other to bring about a holistic fulfilment of the aspirations of the Urhobo
people. This connection will mainly be with the Ivies and Oloroguns in the "23" Urhobo Kingdoms (or Communities or Clans),
UPU and Urhobo Historical Society, and other Urhobo Unions, Clubs and Associations.
4. To provide a “bridge” or a "link" between our present leaders and the generations following them
so that there is “shadowing” or “mentoring” or “discipleship” or any such name that will
happen along the line so that there can be smooth transition of leadership.
5. To provide avenue for enlightenment/education of the people and create ample awareness for the people from all
aspects and works of life within the Urhobo people.
6. To foster peaceful and harmonious co-existence among the various groups and clubs (comprising of the Ivies, Oloroguns,
Chiefs, elders, elites, “the eghweyas” and the youths) so that the focus will be a unified move for the actualisation
and realisation of Urhobo aspirations and not individualistic and selfish struggle that hitherto tear us widely apart.
7. To foster the atmosphere of brotherly love for one another for our common goal of purpose within the comity of
nations in Nigeria to be achieved.
8. To provide avenue that fosters a holistic Social, Political, Economical and Cultural development of Urhobo people
in the Urhobo land and the Diaspora.
COMPLEMENTARY AND SUPPLEMENTARY SERVICES:
is formed with the intent of complementing and supplementing the roles of all the erstwhile Urhobo groups and organisations
and linking one with the other to form what may be called a “chain” or “network”. Urhobo Bridge will
be part of the "chain" or "network" and not an "umbrella" as some people may be thinking that we are trying to arrogate the
power of becoming the "Umbrella" body. UPU will ever have that honour of being the Umbrella body of the Urhobos. This should
be clear with every one.
"Chain" or "Network", there will be proper dissemination of information and healthy communication maintained that will bring
about the realisation of the purpose we are striving for. We are indeed operating as a “Network” or a “Bridge”
or “Connector” for the Urhobo people in the Diaspora connecting with the Urhobo people in Urhobo land and we aim
to remain so.
recap: UPU is the "Umbrella" and we are the "Bridge" or "Connector" or "gel" for the Urhobo people and organisations.
of the foregoing, we need every support and co-operation for co-existence with the elders, Ivies, Chiefs, the "eghweyas",
the clubs, groups, the youths, the children and all well meaning Urhobo people and neighbouring non-Urhobos. We have a vision
for a brilliant and brighter future for the Urhobo people.
us a chance and support us to make the vision become a reality.
very much for your time reading this.
Members at inception until enlarged later as Founding Members.
Okpako, Onajevwe Omo-Ejakpovi & Joseph Emaniru)