|Urhobo Historical Society
Background History of the Post of President-General of Urhobo Progress Union
and His Responsibility to Tour the
By Chief T. E. A. Salubi
I. Institution of the Honorable Office of President-General
At a meeting for the election of officers of the Home Union [at Warri] held on the 19th February, 1937, it was proposed that the office of President-General be created for the Urhobo Progress Union as a whole. Some members suggested that after creation, Chief Mukoro Mowoe should be appointed to that office. Other members suggested that the Chief be appointed a Patron of the
In order, therefore, to retain the valuable services, internal and external, which the
In a letter dated 25th May, 1937, Lagos branch, of which I was then the Honorary Secretary, replied that, in principle, it was in entire agreement and “declared with all sincerity that none worthier than Mukoro Mowoe Esq., our esteemed Leader and patriot, will wear the General’s crown.” The branch, however, suggested that since the Home Union’s circular-letter was out to sound the branch’s minds with a view to knowing in advance their feelings, the matter be referred to the General Council which was the proper place for its discussion and settlement. That being its opinion, the branch respectfully submitted that the matter be deferred till the next General Council when the Rules of the
In its reply,
“That the office be open only to any worthy or deserving member
(ii) “That if need be the holder is expected to make annual tour of all the branches of U.P.U.
if the suggestion in (ii) above proves
practicable, the home
There was a general acceptance of the proposal by all branches, and although the Home Union agreed with
“Whereas in the meeting of the HOME UNION held on the 19th of February, 1937, at which a suggestion was made to elect MR. MUKORO MOWOE as PRESIDENT-GENERAL for the Urhobo Progress Union as a whole and:
“Whereas this suggestion on being circularized to the different branches of the Union, it received the general approval of all the Branches, the following resolution has been passed in the Meeting of the HOME UNION held on 25th June, 1937, on motion by Mr. J. A. Obahor seconded by Mr. G.K. Ezewu:
Be It Resolved:
“That this General Meeting of the Home Union hereby proclaim Mukoro Mowoe Esq., as PRESIDENT-GENERAL of the Urhobo Progress Union as a whole and to be duly installed as such at the forth-coming Meeting of the General Council at which all the Branches will be represented.
The Home Union ended its letter conveying the above resolution to Branches with these words:
“My Union desires me to inform you that as the fore-going suggestions will come up for discussion at the next session of the General Council, it is quite necessary that every Branch should discuss them before-hand and leave its opinion with its delegates for the General council. Any other suggestion regarding the nature of the duties of the President-General will be welcome; such suggestions, of course, will have to await the next sitting of the Council.”
This was, of course, a contradiction of the spirit and letter of the above resolution.
It will be noted that
all along, the
desirability of creating the office of President-General for the whole
The important reason to which I am alluding is this. The expansion of the Union which began a few years after Chief Mukoro Mowoe assumed office as President, Warri, in succession to Mr. Omorohwovo Okoro, the first President, created a number of administrative problems especially in regard to coordination and over-all supervision of the activities of the many branches that had sprung up in different parts of the county. Following that development, and in the absence of a central machinery to cope with the new situation, Warri branch naturally assumed the role of headquarters, or as was often referred to, of a “Home Union or Mother Union”. While the Honourary Secretary at Warri maintained correspondent with the various outside branches, there was no central office the holder of which was to take the responsibility of over-seeing the whole field of the activities of all the branches and of co-coordinating them. The vacuum existed until 1944 when provision was made for a Central executive e committee.
The office was however created and
1. The President-General shall by virtue of his superior office take precedence of Presidents of all branches of the Urhobo Progress Union.
2. Any persons elected to this office shall hold it for a period not exceeding 5 years from the date of this election. Subject to satisfactory behaviour and good work, such a holder may, however, be re-elected for a number of terms.
3. If the Union in Council has any reason to believe that the conduct, behaviour, movement and or the general discipline of the holder of this office is such as will militate in any form or shape against the general interest, welfare and progress of any branch or of the Union as a whole, the General council shall have power to impeach such a holder, and if he is found guilty by majority vote, he shall be dealt with according to the gravity of the offence. The general council shall be the competent body to exercise the above power.
4(a) It shall be the duty of the President-General to make, at least, one tour of inspection to each of the branches of the Urhobo Progress Union in 5 years.
(b) He shall preside at any meeting of any branch at which he is present; for every visit made, either officially or privately, he shall sign either the Minutes Book, the Log Book or the Visitor’s Book which ever is being kept by the branch so visited.
(c) He shall forward a copy of his itinerary to reach each branch of the Union one month before the date of commencement.
(d) The President-General shall be one of the persons to operate the Scholarship and the Urhobo National Funds.
The above definition of the President-General’s duties was, as has already been said, adopted at the 1937 General Council and inserted into the
“.. where in the best interest of the Union an |occasion” (sic)” demands, he can tour,
“accompanied by the Principal Secretary to
any “branch or branches of
Contrary to the
original provision which makes it a duty on the President-General to
least, one tour of inspection to each of the branches of the Union once
years, the revised edition does not require the President-General to
all, except under certain specific conditions. Even under those
may not tour!
I consider this revised provision a serious departure from the spirit which animated the original provision, and, in fact a defeat of its purpose. The position should, I suggest, be corrected in the third edition of the Constitution the preparation of which is now well under way.
So much for this historical exercise.
Ii Chief Mukoro Mowoe’s Tour, 1946
Following the Union’s
decision to found a national college and the re-election of Chief Mowoe
President-General for a second term of office at the 1942 Annual
Council, the Council decided that the President-General, accompanied by
Secretary and the General Financial Secretary, should tour to all
April, 1943, with the primary object of preaching the gospel of the
Fund so as to facilitate the collection of funds. It was further
the traveling expenses of the Chief and his entourage be borne by
visited or alternately, the expenses should be debited to the National
proposed tour did not however take place and nothing was heard again
touring unit 1944.
At the 1944 Annual
General Council, a
Committee was appointed to consider the question of transport expenses
respect to the President-General’s tour. The committee recommended and
Council approved that £200 should be earmarked for the tour. When,
tour was discussed at the first meeting of the executive council held
18th July, 1945, the General Treasurer informed the meeting that the
approval of £200 was subject to the
In respect of the first lap of the Chief’s tour, i.e., South-Western Provinces, it would appear that an allocation of £80 towards expenses was made. Out of that sum, £54:6:7d was expended on such items as transport, type-writer, stationery, telegrams, food and drinks, etc. One may reasonably assume that the balance of £25:13:5d was held against the second lap of the tour, i.e., Northern and eastern Provinces. Unfortunately, there is no record in file showing a statement of expenditure in respect of this part of the tour. In any case, it seems that the total expenditure for the whole tour did not amount to anything near the £200 previously earmarked by the Council for the purpose.
Chief Mowoe was to have
begun the tour
from the 15th to the 27th August, and the 10th to the 19th September,
Owing, however, to strained relationship between
Thus, the first
country-wide tour of
the branches of the
The Urhobo Progress Union has for a long time been contributing money
Urhobo education fund. Many suggestions have been made as to the best
could put the fund. At first we wanted to build only schools. As time
and we say how the high posts in the Government and Mercantile Houses
being filled by members of other Nigerian tribes with University and
professional education, the Urhobo Progress Union decided that the Fund
the purpose of (a) establishing an Urhobo National College for the
our children; and (b) giving University education to deserving youth to
teachers in our National College and professional education to other
qualify them for high posts in the county. Two young men Messrs M. G.
and E. N. Igho have been sent to
At the time of Chief Mowoe’s tour, there were according to record, 34 branches in existence. But if Sobe and Ipetu-Ijesha, which were shown in the Chief’s tour report as branches, were included, there would, therefore, appear to be altogether about 36 braches of the
Chief Mukoro Mowoe’s tour was a huge success financially and otherwise. Altogether, the Urhobo Education Fund benefited to the tune of £1,149:17:11d. -- £736:1:0d from the
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us,
Foot prints on the sands of time.1
It is on record that Chief J. A. Okpodu, who succeeded Chief Mowoe, at first in an acting capacity, proposed in November, 1953, a six-day tour of branches of the
Apart from two notices canceling appointment for his visits on the 21st and the 22nd November, 1953, no other record as to what else happened, generally, about the proposed tour was seen. But the Chief himself informed me that he did tour to one or two branches in Udu and Ughievwen clan area.
It has always been the
wish or the
Union in Council that the President-General of the Union should tour to
branches of the