*Demands Commercial Activities At Warri, Sapele Ports
By Ovie Okpare
The apex socio-cultural umbrella body of the Urhobo people worldwide, Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) says it will soon present before the National Assembly the position of the Urhobo Nation on the Constitution Review.
It said it had concluded plans to present a paper on Urhobo position to the Constitution Review Committee headed by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
President General of UPU Worldwide, Olorogun Moses Taiga, disclosed this during a press conference held in Lagos, where he called for the completion of the abandoned East-West Road linking the three regions in the Southern part of Nigeria
Olorogun Taiga, while lamenting the deplorable state of the road, said the Benin-Effurun/Warri and Ughelli/Port Harcourt sections of the road were now death traps and impassable.
“The Federal and the Delta State Governments should provide adequate infrastructure to the Urhobo Nation. We need Federal Roads, particularly the East West Road, which has remained uncompleted for over 20 years.
“The Ughelli/Asaba Road, Benin-Sapele-Warri Road, among others, need completion. The road is in a terrible state of disrepair, which has led to needless loss of lives, properties and productive man-hours. A one-hour journey now takes between three to six hours.
“For the Urhobo people, and other Nigerians, plying the road, especially from the Ugbenu, Oghara, Adeje, Elume to PTI Junction on Effrun axis of the Benin-Ughelli Expressway, it has been a harrowing experience”, he stated.
He, however, called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to withdraw the popular Sapele Port in Delta State from the authorities of the Nigerian Navy and restore it to a commercial port, saying the port is presently being underutilized.
The UPU President General also called on the federal government to return full commercial activities to Warri Port as well as commence works at the proposed Okwagbe Seaport in Ughelli South LGA of Delta State.
Taiga added, “Our Sapele Port that was given to the Navy, which is currently underutilized, should be restored back as a full operating Port. We also want full business activities at the Warri Port.
“Government should also develop the Okwagbe/Ganagana Port in Ughelli South Local Government. We generate Gas from Utorogu Plant – Perhaps, the largest Gas Plant in Nigeria – yet electricity in Urhobo land is comatose! This needs to be redressed.”
He specifically called on President Buhari to establish industries that will create employment opportunities for the unemployed youths in the Niger Delta region.
On the constitutional review, Olorogun Taiga maintained that the nation’s constitution must be structured in such a manner where all the confederating ethnic nationalities will be given equal sense of belonging to ensure national unity and cohesion.
According to him, “The UPU shall continue to work with the Federal and Delta State Governments to ensure that Urhobos receive the Economic Impact of Government policies.
“Whilst, we as a socio-cultural Institution will remain non-partisan, we will seek to cooperate and work with each government and the institutions of state and federal governments of the day, to ensure that the Urhobo Nation gets its fair share of the resources and opportunities.
“We were in the process of submitting the paper on Urhobo position to Senator-Omo-Agege-led Constitution Review Committee before COVID-19. We shall do so subsequently.
“In addition to the above stated issues, we urgently require attention to the following: Legalization of community policing. Solution to the Herdsmen menace in our communities so that our women can to go to their farms without fear of rape, attacks or being killed.”
He further appealed to President Buhari to return to the Uvwie and Okpe people of Urhobo lands acquired by the military but now being sold by authorities to private individuals.
“We seek the return of Uvwie and Okpe lands, acquired for military purposes, in the past, but not so utilised, and are being sold subsequently being sold by the military to private individuals.
“We, as a Nation, had presented this matter to the President – HE Muhammadu Buhari, in June 2018, and he made a commitment to return these lands. But nothing has been done till now.
“The UPU wishes to use this opportunity to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for naming some Railway Stations along the Itakpe/Ajaokuta/Aladja/Warri Corridor after worthy Urhobo Sons.
“We thank him for naming the Abraka Station after Major-General David Ejoor (Rtd.), and the Okpara Station after Olorogun Michael Ibru. The Urhobo Nation is immensely grateful for this honour done to our departed heroes”, the Urhobo leader further added.