January 16, 2011
Role of Chairmen of Local Government Areas in Urhoboland in 2011 Voter Registration
January 15-29, 2011
Chief Anthony Oboroh, Chairman
Ethiope East LGA, Isiokolo
Dr. Wilson Odafe Omene, Chairman
Ethiope West LGA, Oghara
Joseph E. Otirhue, Chairman
Okpe LGA, Orerokpe
Godwin Atose, Chairman
Sapele LGA, Sapele
Henry Afure Sakpra, Chairman
Udu LGA, Otor-Udu
Mr. Kenneth Kessiena Ibru, Chairman
Ughelli North LGA, Ughelli
Barr. Denis Djoma, Chairman
Ughelli South LGA, Otujeremi
Hon Peter Ochuko Abugewa, Chairman
Uvwie LGA, Effurun
Dear Chairmen of LGAs in Urhoboland:
We write you this letter in order to discuss (a) the significance of the ongoing voter registration for Urhobo political future and fortunes and (b) the central role that you collectively can play to make it a successful outcome and thus enhance Urhobo’s future prospects. We address the letter to you specifically and especially because we understand that you are in positions of leadership that will render the voter registration exercise in Urhoboland a desirable success or else a disastrous failure.
Comparative Importance of Voter Registration for Urhoboland
Delta State has three Senatorial districts of (a) North Delta (with three semi-ethnic nationalities of Ika, Western Igbo, and Ukwuani); South Delta (for Isoko, Ijaw, and Itsekiri); and Central Delta (with only Urhobo ethnic nationality). The reason why Urhobo has one of the three Senatorial districts to itself is on account of its relative higher population. Such population criterion has three interdependent significant elements: (i) population census, usually taken every ten years; (ii) voter registration; and (iii) voting statistics.
In order to sustain its status as a distinct Senatorial district in Delta State or even to aspire to its own state within the Nigerian federation, Urhobo population must increase in proportion to the rest of the country or surge ahead. If its population census falters, or if voter registration or voting figures of Urhobos show signs of retreat, then its distinction will be threatened. We do not therefore believe that our current status should be taken for granted. On the contrary, our position in Delta State and in the Nigerian federation deserves to be protected by our own actions and planning.
For those who have been watching Urhobo affairs and communities for decades, there are credible impressions that Urhobo population has surged. Urhobo towns have grown huge. Before the Nigerian civil war some forty years ago, there were few Urhobo towns with populations greater than 10,000. Today, Ughelli, Abraka, Effurun, Okpara, Eku, Kokori and a few others can be added to Warri and Sapele as towns and cities with many thousands of people. There have been no major conflicts that could derail population increase in Urhoboland. In addition, the migration from many creek areas of the Delta South, owing to war and major inter-ethnic conflicts, has inflated the population in such Urhobo metropolitan conglomerations as Sapele and Warri. These developments ought to push up population figures in voter registration and in voting patterns.
Urhobo Fears about False Depopulation
Despite such apparent positive developments, there are widespread fears in Urhobo communities, at home in Urhoboland and in the Urhobo Diaspora, that there are efforts to suppress Urhobo population performances. These fears are based on woeful figures flowing from census, voter registration, and voting results that defy the reality of bulging population in Urhobo towns and villages. In the most recent re-run election earlier this month, voting totals in Urhobo LGAs were among the lowest in Delta State. Ironically, the vote totals from war and conflict-ravaged districts in Delta South were many multiples of those in Urhobo LGAs. If this pattern persists, then we are in trouble. If the current voter registration shows the same pattern of results, then the fears expressed by many Urhobos that we are under attack will appear to be valid. This is because, there are no Urhobos anywhere who accept the logic of these figures, namely, that Urhobo population has shrunk in the last ten years. On the contrary, Urhobo fears are that these low figures have been falsely applied to us.
You can imagine that in circumstances like these, there will be plenty of finger pointing. As central personalities in the management of the affairs in Urhobo’s eight LGAs, you bear major responsibilities for the outcomes of census figures, voter registration, and voting patterns in Urhoboland. You should not therefore be surprised that many of your fellow Urhobo men and women have complained that you have not done enough to ensure that overall Urhobo interests are protected. We must rush to state that we believe that all of you are honourable and patriotic Urhobos. But it is entirely possible that you have not shown adequate sensitivity to the fears of your fellow Urhobo men and women. We urge you to publicly assure all Urhobo communities, including the Urhobo Diaspora, that you will do all you can to ensure that every adult is registered in your LGAs.
Our Appeal to Honourable Chairmen of Urhobo LGAs
We want to assure you that you will be huge heroes if the ongoing voter registration in your local government areas is successful. Success in voter registration means the following for us:
a) Every eligible adult in each of the eight LGAs is registered. We urge you all to go the extra-mile to bring everyone for registration. Let no one be left out. Voter registration is a vital national statistic for individuals, especially since the figures will be computerized this time around.
b) The results of voter registration in Urhobo LGAs compare favourably with other LGAs. We will be publishing these figures in our Web site for Urhobo readers to draw their conclusions. Urhobo lost important grounds in the past, due to failure to register everyone in Urhobo LGAs. We cannot accept such boldfaced falsehood as that Ethiope East or Sapele is less populated than depopulated LGAs of Delta South. We do not want to see any Urhobo LGA as the lowest in voter registration in Delta State.
c) Voter Registration is separated from party politics. We understand that some in Urhoboland see voter registration as part of party politics. It is not. It is one of those projects over which party politics should be ruled out.
We in Urhobo Historical Society would very much like to hold a meeting with all of you to discuss our views on how we all can help to enhance progress in Urhoboland by the end of this year when we hold our annual conference. On our part, we will be delighted to help publicise your work in our Web site http://www.waado.org/Contents.html. Meanwhile, we thank you and we salute you in advance for what we trust will be a positive response to this letter and a very successful 2011 voter registration exercise in Urhoboland.
Sincerely in the Service of Urhoboland,
Peter P. Ekeh, PhD
Isaac James Mowoe, PhD, JD
Onoawarie Edevbie, MA, MSc
His Majesty Okpara I, Ovie r’ Agbon
His Majesty Orhueh I, Orodje r’ Okpe
His Majesty Ogoni I, Owhorode r’ Olomu
His Majesty Oharisi III, Ovie r’ Ughelli
Rt. Reverend Vincent Muoghere, Retired Bishop of Ughelli Diocese, Anglican Communion
Rt. Reverend Cyril OdiborOghene Odutemu, JP, Bishop of Ughelli Diocese, Anglican Communion
Chief Senator David Dafinone
Olorogun Senator Felix Ibru
Olorogun Moses Taiga
Chief Senator Fred Brume
Evan. Emmanuel Evue , President, Urhobo Social Club, Lagos
Chief Dr. Peter Obakponome
Chief Johnson Barovbe
Chief T. A. Onoge