As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic with its devastating effect on global economy, the Urhobo Economic and Investment Group (UEIG) has held a webinar to discuss the impacts of the virus on the economy Urhobo Nation, fifth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria.
The webinar tagged, “The impact of COVID-19 on the Economy of the Urhobo Nation” discussed how the people of the ethnic group can survive the impact of the pandemic even thereafter.
Convener of the Urhobo Economic and Investment Group (UEIG), a group that has been in the forefront of developing economy blueprint for the Urhobo people, Mr Kingsley Ubiebi, said the conference was necessitated by current economy realities where economies of most nation had been shutdown across the world.
The webinar which drew attendance across the globe resolved to enlightened the people on the implications of the COVID-19 in the economy of Urhobo Nation, and also to proffer workable solutions on how to tackle the challenges ahead of Post COVID-19 era.
According to him, the world is currently in a lurch, facing one of its most overwhelming challenges since the dawn of the 21st century.
“The novel coronavirus, a disease that has infected millions of people around the world, and claimed tens of thousands lives remains a puzzle that the world is yet to unravel.
“Sadly, Nigeria is in the league of affected countries and the outbreak of the virus in the country has necessitated the shutting of most human activities in the past weeks, with dire socio-economic implications.
“The Urhobo nation is not insulated from the debilitating effects associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, as the socio-economic activities of its sons and daughters have also been negatively affected.
The webinar featured a team of carefully selected speakers with deep rooted knowledge on finance, business and economic matters and was moderated by Dr. Benson Uwheru, Partner, Ernst & Young Nigeria.
The session was kicked started with an inspiring speech in which he who enjoined all Urhobo sons and daughters to prioritise their health and safety during the pandemic by adhering to the safety protocol issued by relevant health and government authorities.
In his special delivery, Dr Uwheru identified some of the major socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic to include reduced access to liquidity and collapsing demand for businesses, policy uncertainty and distorted supply chain, and the obvious difficulty in inventory management occasioned by increasing complexity in getting raw materials from overseas.
Other speakers at the webinar include Ms. Helen Emore, President and founder of FMG Empowerment, Chief Francis Okumagba, Engr. Henry Orhojoma, CEO, AQME Technology, Kelvin Dafiaghor, the Chief Promoter for Artificial Intelligence in Africa, Dr Albert Ofuoku of Delsu Abraka.
At the end of the robust discussion, the participants resolved that:
• The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the Urhobo nation with debilitating effects on the socio-economic activities of our people. However, the health and safety of all Urhobos and other Nigerians in Urhobo land remains an utmost priority. Therefore, everyone should pay adequate attention to all Covid-19 safety guidelines such as wearing of face masks, washing hands with soap under running water at regular intervals, use of alcohol-based sanitizer, practice social distancing and personal hygiene.
• As part of strategic response to the harsh effect of the pandemic, Urhobo people must build, nurture and maintain strong socio-economic bonds evident in their cooperation and collaboration among themselves as there is strength in unity.
• MSMEs operating in Urhobo land should register their business entities with the Corporate Affairs Commission, and maintain a well-structured system and operation for sustainable growth and development.
• A Free Trade Zone with constant electricity supply should be established in Delta State to host petrochemical and allied industries, food processing plants and other economic activities that will promote opportunities in Urhobo land. We encourage Urhobo Leaders to use their vast network to help with the establishment of free trade zone in Urhoboland.
• Urhobo farmers should be encouraged to form cooperative societies that will enable them have access to financial opportunities and build their capital base. Those still practising subsistence farming should urgently consider the more beneficial option of going into large scale cultivation of both food and cash crops.
• Fertilizer plants should be established in Delta State and efforts should be made to re-engage experts leaving the oil industry as a result of the current challenges in the secto