Engineer Joe Orode Omene, President-general, Urhobo Progress Union [UPU], while speaking recently at the inauguration of the organization’s Kasoa Branch in Ghana, has reiterated his commitment to the promotion, protection and preservation of Urhobo Heritage.
UPU under his leadership according to Orode Omene, is making effort to ensuring that the body is more proactive, responsive and alive to its responsibilities to the Urhobo Nation and its people in contemporary times.
He was unanimously elected president of UPU. a pan Urhobo social and cultural umbrella body for all Urhobo worldwide) on December 19, 2014.
The President-general at the beginning of his speech put into perspective that, it was common knowledge that the UPU leadership, to some degree, was involved in the 2015 general election, a development generally known was fundamentally necessitated by the not too encouraging attitude of most Urhobo political leaders.
He noted that since the present political dispensation, that there has been a growing tendency amongst most Urhobo political leaders to pursue their personal and group interest over that of the Urhobo nation and its people.
Orode Omene berated political leaders for being responsible for the poor political showings and visibility of the Urhobo nation in the scheme of things in the country today.
“It is imperative to state here that the organization could not have done otherwise, putting the general interest and well-being of the Urhobo nation and its people into perspective, which the political class has time and again relegated to the background.
“However, while I do not find pleasure in trying to defend or justify the UPU involvement in the last general election, particularly as the UPU leadership does not intend to be involved in future elections, it is instructive to note that there is a world of difference between affiliating the UPU to a particular political party and the UPU showing interest on how politics impact Urhobo-land and development”, he said.
He also excitedly said that although the crisis that emanated from the last general election has been amicably resolved by all parties involved.
Looking into the future, the President general noted that there is no doubt that Urhobo history as a people, is synonymous with challenges of various nature and posited that since the UPU was formed in 1931, the Urhobo Nation has had to deal with one challenge or the other in its effort to cement its place in the competitive Nigerian establishment.
“While some of these challenges have disappeared through the decades on account of the nationalists’ activities of our founding fathers, some still stare at us in the face today”, he posited.
By getting more people to be involved in UPU activities the body has started inaugurating local branches in all the 24 clans that make up Urhobo Kingdom.
It is instructive to state here that plans to inaugurate UPU branches in all the 24 kingdoms, is geared towards having an effective organizational structure, that would make for easy mobilization of Urhobo nationals effort.
“Having functional UPU branches will make for positive interaction and collaboration among the various representative groups of the UPU, and which would no doubt in turn influence unity and cohesiveness among the Urhobo people”, Orode Omene noted.
He went further to say that “I’m happy to state here that we have already inaugurated the UPU branches in 14 out of the 24 Urhobo Kingdoms.
“We hope to be through with the other kingdoms within the next few months. Apparently, the inauguration of the UPU branches will not be limited to Urhobo-land; we also plan to inaugurate the branches of the organization across the country and indeed the globe”.
On the welfare of all Urhobo wherever they might be, the President-general narrated the role the UPU played and still playing on the Ese Oruru abduction saga, considering the national attention it attracted.
“It is worthy to note that the UPU National Executive has continued to stand by Ese Oruru even after her release by her assailants. The organization has paid a couple of visits to her and the parents in Bayelsa State; this is also coupled with the fact that the UPU has taken over her legal representation in court, as her legal team is presently headed by the Secretary-general of the UPU, Chief Albert Akpomudje [SAN]”, he said.
Orode Omene lamented that the Urhobo Nation cannot continue in this manner if they must take their place as strategic stakeholders in the Nigerian project. It is apparently for this reason he said that the UPU plans to make Urhobo voice heard more on major national and regional issues, particularly as such issues concern the Urhobo nation and its people.
“Beyond making our voice heard always on major national and regional issues more often, the UPU also plans to add bite to its political expressions”, he urged, while hoping that by so doing, “we believe the Urhobo Nation will gradually be recognized as a force to reckon with in the affairs of the Nigerian State”.