A Symposium on the Spirit of Community Service and the Development & Underdevelopment of Urhoboland
At the 9th Annual Conference of Urhobo Historical Society
Held at Effurun, Delta State, Nigeria, 15th November 2014
Chairman’s Opening Remarks
By Professor Vremudia P. Diejomaoh
President, Foundation for Jobs and Development, Abuja, Nigeria.
The President of Urhobo Historical Society, Professor Peter Ekeh;
Your Majesties, Monarchs and Kings of Urhoboland here present;
Distinguished Leaders of the Urhobo and Delta Community;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
All Protocols duly observed.
As Chairman of this symposium on the Spirit of Community Service and the Development and Underdevelopment of Urhoboland, I would like to welcome you all to this very critical and historic symposium organized by Urhobo Historical Society (UHS) at its 2014 9th Annual Conference. At the outset, I would like to commend and congratulate the President of UHS Prof. Peter Ekeh, the Executive of UHS and its various organizing committees for putting before us, an exceptionally outstanding programme and for bringing us all together to try to move Urhoboland to a much higher level than we find ourselves at present.
As this symposium is very short, only one and half hours, and we have a very outstanding panel to lead our discussion through a very participatory process involving a very distinguished and capable audience, I shall be very brief in these Chairman’s opening remarks.
There are very strong sentiments prevailing in Urhoboland today, that we are becoming increasingly marginalized not only in our own state, where we constitute the majority of the population but also in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in which we are one of the largest ethnic groups, with a population of about 4 million people, making us the fifth largest ethnic group in Nigeria. How did this happen and what can we do to reverse this unacceptable trend? THAT is the question. The answer is simple; our destiny is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings. UNITED we stand, DIVIDED we fall. That we are falling today, is symptomatic of the fact that we are not sufficiently united, nor do we have an effective strategy for reducing under-development and enhancing the development of ALL of Urhoboland.
Let me conclude these very brief remarks by leaving you with a few clear messages.
1. Firstly, we need to enlarge and realize a vision of not only our self-aggrandizement, but the uplifting of the entire Urhobo community, and drum up support for a spirit of service for the development of ALL of Urhoboland.
2. This will not happen unless we put in place and implement vigorously a blueprint, roadmap or a plan for the development of Urhoboland. I had the privilege within the framework of the Urhobo Leadership Forum Abuja, to Chair a panel of Eminent Urhobo personalities, two of whom are panelists in this symposium, which produced a comprehensive roadmap, for the socio-cultural and economic transformation and development of Urhoboland, with clear implementation modalities.
3. Among the implementation modalities, are the setting up of a Foundation, we called it the Mukoro Mowoe Urhobo Development Foundation, within the framework of the Urhobo Progress Union, to drive the production and implementation of the Urhobo Community Development Plan, on a continuous and PERPETUAL basis. We need the URHOBO PROGRESSS UNION to drive the progress of Urhobos and Urhoboland in a more visible and tangible manner.
4. We also advocate the setting up of a forum of elected and appointed Urhobo political leaders, in dialogue with the Urhobo community to ensure that they use their political offices and appointments to benefit and develop the Urhobo community as a whole and their own smaller and immediate communities, not just themselves alone.
5. We also recommend the setting up of a forum of leading Urhobo entrepreneurs, and business leaders for attracting and retaining major private and public sector investment projects into Urhoboland, to develop Urhoboland at a faster pace and create jobs for our teeming youth. In this, we need to appeal to their spirit of community service and philanthropy.
6. In the spirit of self help and self reliance, ALL Urhobo communities from the village upwards, need to institute their development councils to elaborate and implement their own development plans. In this enterprise, they need to evoke and mobilize the spirit of community service and involve all their people at the community level, the urban centres of Nigeria, and the Diaspora.
7. Finally, our Council of Urhobo kings and monarchs need to be more proactive and active in promoting development in their various jurisdictions, including the all important issue of peace and security within their lands and amongst our neighbours in Delta State and Nigeria in general. One of our more dynamic kings will be addressing the above and other issues in this symposium.
I wish this symposium and this august assembly very productive and fruitful deliberations, as our panelists and distinguished participants elaborate further on the above and other issues, pertinent to the theme of our symposium.
I thank you for your kind attention.
was, at various times, Professor of Economics and Dean of Social
Sciences, University of Lagos; Director-General of NISER,
Ibadan; and Director, ILO/Jobs and Skills Programme
for Africa (JASPA) and Director, ILO Addis Ababa and East Africa