FIFTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND GENERAL MEETING
October 28 -
MINUTES OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Held at Excel Hotel, Hotel Excel Limited
Excel Drive off
Prepared by Onoawarie Edevbie
Secretary, Urhobo Historical Society
The Annual General Membership Meeting (AGM) proceeded, with Peter Ekeh presiding, along the following issues:
1. Opening prayers were offered by Tiko Alakpa
2. Introductory Remarks by Peter Ekeh:
Peter Ekeh in his preliminary remarks provided some
background to enable
individuals present to understand why UHS came into being and why we
Effurun at the time. Many Urhobo organizations, both in the United
United Kingdom, he noted were before UHS was formed, in disarray as
fighting over issues of legitimacy. In this period of disagreements
Urhobo groups in the Diaspora, came the Warri crisis. The internet
relatively new then and many groups among the
The first UHS Conference and General Meeting was
held in 2000 at
At the London Conference, a number of individuals notably Johnson Barovbe suggested that UHS move its Annual Conference and General Membership Meeting to Urhoboland and that was why we were at Effurun. Peter Ekeh concluded his remarks by noting that although UHS began its activities in a humble way, the Society has acquired enough strength and maturity to be able not only to defend Urhobo interests while respecting the views of others but also to expand its activities to cover the affairs of the surrounding areas of Niger Delta.
and Adoption of Minutes of last General Meeting of
Onajevwe Omo-Ejakpovi read out to the hearing of members present, the minutes, copies of which were circulated to all members present at the beginning of the meeting. Following the general reading and review by individual members, the minutes were adopted on a motion moved by Ejiro Ughwujabo and seconded by Johnson Barovbe.
Arising from the Minutes
Status of UHS
Application for Tax-Exempt (Charity) /
(IRS) Code Section 501(c)(3)
In answer to
Thomas Salubi’s inquiry, Alfred Bobson
explained that the tax-exempt status allows individuals in the
(b) Operating Status of UHS branches
Simpson Obruche sought clarification on the operating status
chapters as it related to the position of UHS Editorial and Management
Committee (EMC). What level of authority, he asked, do the branches
have? Do they have the same level of
the EMC or do they act in subservience to EMC in the
Thomas Salubi in contributing to the debate indicated that he did not consider UHS as a political party that would require party branches, but as an organization that is dedicated to serving Urhobo interests. He took the opportunity to express his concerns about the state of Urhobo language, which he regarded as dying for lack of adequate use. He called for efforts to reverse the decline in the use of the language, stressing that the only body he believed, was capable of taking up the challenge is UHS. He therefore urged UHS to remain compact and accept the challenge of working to solve the language problem at least in the interest of future generations before it becomes too late to save.
Ejiro Ughwujabo redirected the discussions to the issue of operating status for UHS branches. He indicated that if UHS was to remain committed to writing and recording of Urhobo history and culture, he saw no need for organizing a structure that will make branches independent or to act independently of EMC and of one another. Tiko Alakpa added that UHS as a young organization should be allowed to grow and acquire a good measure of stability before thinking of giving authority to its branches. Ejiro Ughwujabo asked for a motion to say that the current organizational structure of UHS should remain as it is until further notice.
Onajevwe Omo-Ejakpovi said he would prefer to allow branches
responsibilities so that they can organize activities, satisfy local
and sensitivity as a way of contributing to the overall development of
history and culture. Felecia Emessiri-Akusu advised that UHS should at
use its branches particularly those in
Following the discussions on the pros and cons of centralizing the organizational structure of UHS, Ejiro Ughwujabo moved a motion, that the current administrative structure of involving EMC and its organizational committees that feed information to EMC should remain. The motion was seconded by Tiko Alakpa who added that retaining centralization even for a period of 5 to 10 years to allow for growth and maturation until time dictates otherwise, to him, was not a bad idea. Before the vote could be taken, Gabriel Ofotokun rose not only to support the motion but also to praise UHS and urged EMC to continue its good work. Johnson Barovbe also said good things about UHS and indicated to members that UHS had already made so much progress to the point where it was being seen or perceived in some quarters as a threat. He asked the house to recognize Gabriel Ofotokun as one of those who had been supportive of UHS causes at various gatherings. The motion to retain the organizational structure of UHS was unanimously carried on a voice vote.
5. Meeting the Needs of UHS Operations and Activities
Peter Ekeh briefed members on UHS’s need for an endowment that would provide funding for many of UHS activities. The most visible areas of need include publications, organizing of conferences, hosting of UHS web sites and the development of Urhobo language. Individuals, he said, have in the past, provided money to meet all of these needs except those posed by the decline in the use of Urhobo language. He added however that it was becoming increasingly difficult to rely on such a small number of individuals for help all the time. He cited the example of the benevolence of Senator David Dafinone and his Editor, Peter Ishaka, who saved UHS from the high cost of publishing UHS book on Warri. He also stressed that UHS would need a reliable source of funds to meet the rising cost of organizing its annual conferences and general membership meetings, and hosting its web sites. The web sites, he said, have attracted a lot of attention and a tremendous amount of goodwill and UHS needed to devise a better way of raising funds to continue the editorial work required to keep the sites running.
A number of suggestions on how to raise funds for UHS activities came from the floor, in response to Peter Ekeh’s plea for help. One was from Perkins Foss who suggested that UHS indicate clearly where donors can send money. He also advised UHS to organize a team of talented individuals to help with managing the web sites, with Peter Ekeh serving as a senior advisor. Peter Ekeh followed up on the suggestion by pointing to how many web sites have failed or died for lack of proper management, including failure to update information. He added that UHS was anxious to develop talents that would help. In order to keep up with developments in cyber space, Patrick Okene advised UHS to always strive for the use of latest technologies in the field for its work.
To initiate proper funding for UHS, Peter Ekeh called for the
authorization to open a bank account in
Ejiro Ughwujabo followed on the discussions by suggesting that Thomas Salubi be made the Chair of the Committee and that such a committee be empowered to recruit others to strengthen its work. The discussions over the need to raise money to funds UHS activities was brought to a close with the decision of AGM to approve the setting up of a Committee To Raise Funds for UHS for the purpose of providing funds to finance UHS operations in four key areas namely (a) Holding of Conferences, (b) Hosting and Maintaining of UHS Web sites, (c) Publication of Books, and (d) Development of Urhobo Language.
The Committee is empowered by AGM to raise funds; keep such funds in bank accounts that the Committee is authorized to open with signatories that it shall decide upon; and to release portions of these funds for UHS operations on the recommendations of UHS Executive. The Committee shall make annual reports to AGM. The Annual General Meeting of 2004 created, for a start, a Convening Committee of five members drawn from among prominent individuals of Urhobo origin with the power to recruit others to increase its membership to constitute a full working Committee To Raise Funds for UHS. AGM also stipulated that membership in the full committee shall not be less than five or more than nine at any given time. Consequently, the AGM empowered UHS Executive to invite the following persons to serve as members of the Convening Committee: Dr. T. E. A. Salubi (Chairman), Olorogun Moses Taiga, Mr. Goodie Ibru, Arch. O. Charles Majoro and Mr. Ede Dafinone.
AGM also authorized UHS Executive
to register Urhobo Historical Society as an association, with the
Federal Government agencies in
(i) UHS Accounts shall be opened with any reputable bank in
(ii) The Chairman of UHS shall be authorized to withdraw on his own signature any amount of money less than N500,000 (five hundred thousand naira).
(iii) Any amount of N500,000 Naira and above shall be withdrawn only upon the signatures of both the Chairman and the Secretary of UHS.
6. Planning 2005 UHS Annual Conference and General Membership Meeting
Johnson Barovbe urged members to consider hosting the 2005
General Meeting at a venue other than Warri as suggested by Daniel
during the 2003 Conference in
7. Other Matters
(i) Onajevwe Omo-Ejakpovi expressed his concerns about the legitimacy or level of acceptability of the choices made by members of the Award Committee to the Urhobo public. He suggested that UHS involve the Ivie of Urhoboland in the process of selecting individuals to be honored with UHS awards in order to increase the level of its legitimacy among the people. Johnson Barovbe countered the advice by saying that UHS like any other organization was free to give awards to whomever it likes and does not need the approval of people or anyone outside such a group.
(ii) Perkins Foss also took the opportunity to introduce his friend, Chief William Okorotete who he said had been with him through thin and thick in his work on Urhobo arts. A number of members expressed their pleasure in having in their midst, the person of Chief William Okorotete who incidentally had completed registration papers and paid membership fees to become a member of UHS just before the meeting began. Chief William Okorotete in his response thanked Perkins Foss and UHS for their work on Urhobo. He told members the story of how Dr. Johnson J. Ejaife who though was married to a West Indian woman, made a lot of efforts to promote Urhobo interests. He urged UHS members to emulate the dedication of Dr. Ejaife, and to continue its good work of promoting Urhobo interests
In the absence of further discussions the meeting was adjourned after closing prayers by Ejiro Ughwujabo.