Chief Joseph Omene, a Civil Engineer, is the President General of Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, the apex Urhobo socio cultural body. In this interview he speaks on the chances of an Urhobo man winning the 2015 governorship election in Delta State and other burning issues in the Nation’s politics. Excepts:
What is your reaction to the calls for your resignation arising from the division in the body?
UPU is intact, it is not divided. We only experienced some dissent views from some unscrupulous elements in the executive committee and they were made up of four assistants to major office holders and they are neither qualified nor form a quorum to take decisions for us.
When they became intransigent, we suspended them indefinitely and they are currently on their own, but UPU remains intact. They are the ones calling for my removal. In fact they went further that they have removed me but that is not true. They must be disregarded because, firstly, they were mere assistants to major office holders and secondly, they do not form a quorum to constitute a legally valid meeting of UPU. They are renegades while I remain the President General of UPU worldwide.
Are you in a position to give reason(s) that led to the emergence of opposition group in your executive committee?
The opposition folks were the same people who also did their best to destroy the immediate past executive committee, led by the late Gen. (rtd) Patrick Aziza. They could not succeed. Now they are trying to destroy my leadership but they have also failed. They are spurred by greed and selfishness instead of the interest of the Urhobo nation.
I have adequate evidence to prove that they are being sponsored to destroy UPU and the 2015 agenda of the Urhobo nation but they will fail. They have a different agenda to foist the APC governorship candidate on Urhobo nation rather than Chief Great Ogboru of the Labour Party that the Urhobo nation collectively endorsed for the position. It is the same person they want to foist on us that is financing their activities.
Was the Uvwiamuge Declaration only directed to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC? Some say that it did not factor in any other party?
Don’t forget that it was the leadership of UPU that formulated the Uvwiamuge Declaration before it made it known to the Urhobo nation. The Uvwiamuge Declaration says if PDP does not give us its governorship flag at its primary, any other major party that gives us its governorship flag at its primary is the party that we will vote for at the governorship election.
It was open to all major political parties, including the Labour Party. So when PDP failed to give us, both APC and Labour Party gave theirs to us. However we must not field two candidates against one from Delta North for fear of losing the election, so Urhobo had to adopt one out of the two and it endorsed Chief Great Ogboru of the Labour Party.
We asked O’tega Emerhor of APC to step down for him and work with him for the general interest of the Urhobo nation, but he refused. I must point out that he is entitled to his right to contest the election irrespective of whether Urhobo like it or not. What he should not do is sponsoring the destruction of UPU by funding some reckless dissidents to fight it. This is where he regrettably steps beyond the bounds.
What were the criteria used by the Urhobo Nation to endorse Chief Great Ogboru instead of O’tega Emerhor?
Urhobo looked into the area of popularity, general acceptability and formidability across the state. Each of the segments of the Urhobo nation, I mean the youths, women, men, elders, the Ivies (Kings), and the clergy conducted voting among them and in each segment, Chief Ogboru won a resounding victory, that was why he was endorsed by them.
O’tega however defied all entreaties to work with him and the Urhobo nation, and this has never happened in Urhobo land, despite that history is replete with several such cases and, I want to emphasise that this is saddening.
Has UPU attempted to reconcile Chief Great Ogboru and Olorogun O’tega?
Yes and like I said before, history is replete in Urhobo land where the peoples’ wishes were considered as sacrosanct and highly adored and respected by several billionaires of Urhobo extraction who have at one time or the other ventured into politics. None of them had betrayed the Urhobos.
O’tega is the only Urhobo man who has done that, yet we made countless efforts to make him understand the need for him to cooperate with the Urhobo nation, to no avail. He rejected all entreaties to be in a good working relationship with Ogboru.
Good working relationship
Too bad. He forgot that when Urhobo had no governorship aspirant from any other party except PDP, when we searching for governorship aspirants from other political parties, he was nowhere to be found. Ogboru of the Labour Party came to us first. It was long after that before he came to us.
What about some of the Urhobo people that make up the political class that the Urhobo nation has sanctioned, what is the current position of things?
They remain sanctioned by the Urhobo Nation. All of them whose names we have published already remain sanctioned. Their sanctions remain valid.
What are the chances of an Urhobo winning the governorship?
Yes, the chances of the Urhobos producing the next governor of the state are very bright. When we get to the bridge we shall cross it.
The Urhobo have opted to vote for President Jonathan and not Buhari, what were the criteria for arriving at that decision?
Mr President is our brother. He is one of us. Besides, he is yet to complete some of the laudable projects he started and he should be there again to enable him finish up them. Above all he has convinced us that he would correct the marginalization against the Urhobos at the federal level.
We shall vote for him and no going back on that, just as we shall vote for Chief great Ogboru of the Labour Party at the governorship election in Delta state and there is no going back on that as well.