The President-General of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Worldwid, Olorogun Dr. Moses Taiga has called on the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to consider restoring the underutilized Sapele Port with the Nigerian Navy to decongest and reduce the burden on Apapa wharf in Lagos.
Taiga made this call over the weekend while briefing pressmen on issues concerning the Urhobo Nation. He noted that though the Sapele port, which is currently under use by the Nigerian Navy has nine bases out of which the navy is only using one. “Our Sapele Port that was given to the Navy, which is currently underutilized, should be restored back as a full operating Port. It doesn’t matter if the Navy want to keep the base they are using. So too, is the Warri Port. Government should develop the Okwagbe/Ganagana Port in Ughelli South Local Government,” he said.
In addition, the President-General called on the Federal Government to fulfil its promise to return Uvwie and Okpe lands, which were freely given to the military, but are now being used for private purposes. “We seek the return of Uvwie and Okpe lands, acquired for military purposes, in the past, but not so utilised, and are 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.”
While thanking the Federal Government for honouring some prominent Urhobo Sons by naming some Railway Stations along the Itakpe/Ajaokuta/Aladja/Warri Corridor after some prominent Urhobo sons, Taiga noted that the Urhobo nation is in dire need of infrastructure. “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 state of deterioration, 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, Effurun axis of the Benin-Ughelli Expressway, it has been a harrowing experience.
“The Ughelli/Asaba Road needs to be completed. We generate Gas from Utorogu Plant, perhaps, the largest Gas Plant in Nigeria, yet electricity in the area is comatose! This needs to be redressed,” he added.
On security, he called on government to find a lasting solution to the incessant issue of insecurity and advised that the government should consider legalizing community policing as part of the solution to the security challenges. He noted that security is important for attracting investments that will provide job opportunities for the teeming youths. Without security, there will be no investment or investors, with consequential zero job opportunities for our teaming youths. Our concern for the security situation for the state and country cannot therefore be over emphasized.”
He also called on government to find a 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. We are also against the selling of our lands to these people for grazing purposes.”
Touching on education and health, the UPU PG thanked the Ifeanyi Okowa-led Delta State government for the approval of the Urhobo Language Curriculum for Primary and Junior Secondary Schools, but added that teaching of Urhobo language should be extended to areas of Patani and Warri South LGAs, which have sizeable population of Urhobos.
On health, he noted: “These are new Normal times. With the COVID-19 Pandemic, our lives have changed. UPU therefore has added Responsibilities to our people. We intend to play a bigger role in community sensitization, ensuring that we prevent rather than treat Corona Virus. We also need to care more for the elderly, poor and infirmed persons.
Speaking on the relationship between the Urhobos and other ethnic groups, he explained that cooperation with neighbours is a sine qua non for the Urhobos: “It is our cardinal policy to co-exist with our neighbours, Ijaw, Itsekiri and Isoko; the Ukwani, Oshimili and Anioma and Bini; the lgbo, the Igala, the Yoruba and other ethnicities. We will continue to cultivate their friendship and good neighbourliness.
“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,” he concluded.