Urhobo Historical Society

Urhobo Historical Society's Role In

"Whither Nigeria? The Position of the Urhobo"
October 27, 2001

The dates and venues of the Annual Conferences of Urhobo Historical Society are matters that are arranged many months before the beginning of the traditional first weekend of November when they are held. These had been fixed for at least six months before November 2, 2001 in the case of the Second Annual Conference. However, the months and weeks leading to the Conferences are busy ones for their organizers. The preparation for the 2001 Conference was complicated by the traumatic events of September 11, 2001, in New York City, the area in which the Conference was scheduled to be held. Many conferences were cancelled as a consequence of the attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Matters were further complicated for the planning of our 2001 Conference because of developments inside Nigeria. In the midst of preparation for the Second Annual Conference and Meeting of Urhobo Historical Society at Persippany, New Jersey, November 2-4, 2001, there was an urgent request from Urhobo National Assembly to Urhobo Historical Society for help in clarifying the nature of Nigerian political developments and their impact on the Urhobo. Urhobo National Assembly is a pan-Urhobo organization that focuses on the political welfare of the Urhobo in the multiplex circumstances of Nigerian politics. It had arranged for a one-day seminar for the examination of Nigeria's chaotic politics and their impact on Urhobo and other ethnic nationalities.

After careful examination of its significance, the Editorial and management Committee of Urhobo Historical Society thought the idea of the one-day seminar was important. However, it was so close to the date of our scheduled Annual Conference on November 2-4, 2001, that we had to negotiate with Urhobo National Assembly for a convenient date. In the end, October 27, 2001, was mutually fixed. It was a week from our Conference.

Professor Peter Ekeh, Chair of Urhobo Historical Society, was the featured guest lecturer at the one-day seminar that was attended by the cream of Urhobo leadership and intelligentsia. Urhobo's traditional rulers, Ivies, were present. Senator David Dafinone gave the keynote address. Professor Onigu Otite, University of Ibadan, Professor Omafume Onoge, Director of Centre for Advanced Social Sciences (CASS), Port Harcourt, and Professor U. A. Igun, Vice-Chancellor of the Delta State University, Abraka, were the principal commentators on the keynote address and the guest lecture. At the podium of the Seminar were numerous luminaries. Senator Fred Brume, current representative of Urhobo in the Senator at Abuja, and Chief Francis Agboro, Chief of State in the Government House in Asaba, were there. In the audience were such distinguished persons as Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya, Africa's foremost painter; Chief Daniel Obiomah, author and analyst of his native City of Warri; David Okpako, Professor Pharmacology, University of Ibadan; Professor Bright Ekwuerhare, Dean of Arts at Delta State University at Abraka; Monseigneur Anthony Erhue of the Catholic Bishop's House, Warri; and numerous other distinguished Urhobos.

Urhobo Historical Society was of course prominently mentioned in the deliberations of the Seminar. Professor Peter Ekeh's paper, titled "Urhobo and the Nigerian Federation: Wither Nigeria," formed the basis of discussions at the Seminar. In one sense, the one-day Seminar became a preliminary event for the Second Annual Conference of Urhobo Historical Society. Peter Ekeh's Guest Lecture was circulated at the venue of the Conference.