URHOBO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
1. Urhobo Historical Society was inaugurated on Saturday, August 28, 1999, in New York City, New York, United States of America, as an organization of Urhobo sons and daughters with a primary mission of studying, documenting, and promoting Urhobo history and culture.
2. Urhobo Historical Society held its First Annual Meeting and Conference at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, on November 3-5, 2000. Chief Senator David O. Dafinone was the Special Guest of Honor of this Conference and he gave its keynote address entitled "Urhobo Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow: Where Do We Stand Now?"
3. Chief Senator David O. Dafinone's keynote address was at once celebratory and sobering, reflective and exuberant. He isolated the central place of the Urhobo people in the political economy of the Nigerian Federation, thus providing a context in which Conference participants considered the issues of the Conference agenda.
4. Several outstanding Urhobo leaders and intellectuals in North America considered Urhobo's circumstances in modern Nigeria, and its relationships with her neighbours in the Niger Delta, in two plenary sessions on (a) "Urhobo Leadership: Problems & Prospects" and (b) "Urhobo in the New Millennium."
5. Urhobo, the Conference noted, constitutes the sixth largest ethnic group in Nigeria, having a population of well over two million people and occupying a land area larger than Switzerland.
6. Urhoboland produces more than 64 million barrels of crude oil annually.
7. The Urhobo people are a critical presence in the Niger Delta, the area of contemporary Nigeria which accounts for more than 95% of Nigeria's annual export earnings. These earnings account for more than 80% of Nigeria’s total expenditure.
8. Urhoboland, notwithstanding the foregoing, is
desolate, almost beyond recognition; is in rapid decay; and its people
are among the most marginalized and neglected in our times.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
1. We, members of Urhobo Historical Society, are firmly of the view that each of the ethnic peoples of Ijaw, Itsekiri, and Urhobo has a legitimate claim to a secure presence in Warri.
2. We, the Urhobo people, desire to live in peace with our neighbors, understanding that we are all likely to benefit most in an environment which fosters harmony and cooperation.
3. We call on all Urhobo people everywhere to unite and demonstrate a sense of collective leadership in articulating the concerns and interests of Urhoboland. In this regard, we call on Urhobo leaders, in the tradition of the great Mukoro Mowoe, to be prepared to "pay to serve" the Urhobo people.
4. We fear for the survival of Urhobo language. In order to ensure its survival and in order to impart its cultural richness to residents of its lands, we strongly recommend that the study of Urhobo language be made compulsory in all elementary and secondary schools in every local government area located in Urhoboland.
5. We recommend the creation of a documentation center at Delta State University, Abraka. In cooperation with the program in Urhobo Studies, it will document Urhobo history and culture for the benefit of all who desire to engage in Urhobo studies.
6. We, therefore, acknowledge with gratitude, the pledge made by Chief Senator David O. Dafinone to endow a Chair in Urhobo Studies at Delta State University, Abraka, and his designation of Urhobo Historical Society as the facilitator of the arrangements for implementing his pledge.
7. We continue to be distressed by lack of evidence that would lead us to believe that the Federal Government of Nigeria has any concerns for the welfare of the people of the Niger Delta. They have suffered so gravely precisely because their lands constitute the “Breadbasket" of the country. The petroleum fire disaster at Idjerhe and the Federal Government's attempt to blame its victims, and not its own bad actions, are matters that will haunt Nigerian history for ever. The other tragedies at Ekakpamre, Choba, and Odi -- to mention some of the most publicized recent crises created by actions of Nigeria's Federal Government in the Niger Delta -- and the absence of any appreciable government initiatives, designed to ease the pain and to soothe the wounds of the injured and the dispossessed, is a vivid testimony of a neglect that borders on the criminal.
8. We condemn the introduction of foreign military personnel and the Nigerian military forces into the Niger Delta. We, therefore, strongly urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to withdraw these troops from the area and engage the people of the Niger Delta in a meaningful dialogue to resolve the crisis in the region.
9. We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to institute a commission of inquiry to investigate all incidents of fires arising from explosions along the oil pipelines, and to bring the parties responsible for the atrocities to justice. We demand that the Federal Government of Nigeria, as owners of the oil pipelines, acknowledge its responsibilities in the disasters that have been visited on the affected communities. We also demand that adequate compensation be paid for loss of lives and properties, and that funds be provided to rehabilitate all those displaced or affected by these tragic events.
10. We are concerned about the growing transportation of crude oil and gas by means of pipelines from Urhoboland and the Niger Delta. It bodes grave dangers to the people and properties of the region. Maintenance and protection of these pipelines are severely limited. The transportation of crude petroleum products by means of poorly maintained and aging pipelines through populated districts is dangerous and disrespectful of the peoples of the Niger Delta. We therefore call upon the Federal Government of Nigeria and all the State Governments in the region to dialogue with leaders of the Niger Delta on alternative safe means of transporting oil and gas from the Niger Delta.
11. We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to convene as quickly as possible a national conference where Nigerians from all areas of the country can come together to discuss the arrangements under which they might continue to live as citizens of one country. These discussions must, in our view, be based on the premise that the constituent states of the Nigerian Federation must have exclusive jurisdictions over their natural resources, agriculture, education, and culture.
12. We, therefore, welcome the inchoate collaborative efforts of the South -South Governors, as represented by their recent meeting. Such initiatives, in our view, will make for a more united, and hence a stronger South, a strength that will indubitably serve the South well in the unfolding economic and political evolution of Nigeria. This evolution must lead ultimately to the redistribution of powers to the constituent states of the Federation as the only real hope for the survival of the Nigerian state.
13. We are aware of a proposal by The
that the Nigerian Federation should be divided into six zones. We
with the view that this proposal will lead to the redistribution of
which will help to establish a solid basis for the creation of a
polity that respects the independence and jurisdictions of the
units in key sectors of the economy vital to their survival.
Satisfied as we are, that the foregoing represents
which, if followed, would serve the greater interests of Urhobo people,
their immediate neighbors, and their compatriots in the larger Nigerian
society, We, Members of Urhobo Historical Society, meeting in Niagara
Ontario, Canada, on this 5th day of November, 2000, resolve to bring
recommendations to the attention of our Compatriots and of our
Federal and State, in the hope that working together, the governments
the peoples of Nigeria, may well be able to solve the vexing problems
which they must now deal successfully, if the Federation is to be saved.
URHOBO HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S
EDITORIAL AND MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
Larry Arhagba, M.A.
Onoawarie Edevbie, M.A., M.Sc.
Peter P. Ekeh, Ph.D.
Edirin Erhiaganoma, M.Sc.
Joseph E. Inikori, Ph.D.
Isaac James Mowoe, Ph.D., J.D.
O. Igho Natufe, Ph.D.
Aruegodore Oyiborhoro, Ed.D.
Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor, M.D., Ph.D.