Agbavwe Elohor Daisy is an Abuja based social activist and Head of Women Affairs of Urhobo Newface Association. She has been on the forefront of Urhobo struggle and recognition. In this interview with Blank NEWS Online, she bares her mind on the marginalization of the Urhobos in this present political setting, death of Urhobo’s leaders, the difference between Ibori’s tenure to that of Uduaghan, just as she threatens to lead 20,000 members of her association to protest the non-recognition of Urhobos in Jonathan’s government
What is the mission of Urhobo New Face Youth Association?
Our mission is to rebrand Urhobo nation. After the Ibos, Ibibios, Hausas and Yourbas is the Urhobos. Despite the Urhobos huge population and economic viability, they have been largely marginalized. The Urhobos are not heard off or seen anywhere in the country. We want to make President Goodluck Jonathan understand that we Urhobos stood by him during the election. We the Urhobos supported him. We voted en mass for him. But since he came on board as the President of Nigeria, we have been crying. We do not have anything to show for our efforts. We do not have any federal appointments. In Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua’s tenure the Urhobos have a minister. But in Jonathan tenure it is like the Urhobos are not part of Nigeria. The Urhobos are not in the board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). At the state level, the Commissioner for NDDC is from Delta South. In the same Delta South we have Senator James Manager an Ijaw man representing the state in NDDC. In the same vein, we have Orubebe who is also an Ijaw man as Minister of Niger Delta. The office of NDDC Financial Director is giving to one Lambert, an Ijaw man from Bomadi. My problem is that everything is just going to the Delta South. Urhobo man is nowhere to be found. Why are they relegating the Urhobos to the background? Is it because the Urhobos are quiet and non-violent people?
Who is responsible for the marginalization of the Urhobos?
I cannot say anyone is responsible for the marginalization of Urhobo nation. Is it that Mr. President is not aware of a place they call Urhobo nation? President Jonathan is a disappointment. From the beginning we were the pioneer of NDDC. But today the case is different. They have turned our youths to beggars We are not recorgnise in Delta State. They have relegated us to the background of deputy governor, deputy chief of staff and personal assistants. Is that what the Urhobo nation is going to do? Our problem is that Urhobo leaders who are supposed to be at the forefront of the struggle and rallying point are dying gradually. For instance Bolokor is gone, Okumagba is gone, Brume is gone. This people are philanthropists who have the charisma of uniting and representing the interest of the Urhobo nation. Nothing is painful than seeing your people suffering and you cannot help. They should call Mr. President to our plight. We do not want to be violent. I was expecting that the Urhobos would have been riding high in Jonathan’s government by now, but unfortunately, none of our man is in tangible position either in state or federal level. Mr. Solomon Ogba from Delta South is the Chairman Federal Athletic Committee and at the same time he is a Commissioner.
How can the Urhobo nation regains its old glory?
All we are saying is that we are asking Mr. President to restore the dignity and hope of the Urhobo man. We are giving him a maximum of ninety days. It is the Urhobo Newface Youth Association that is giving him the ninety days or we shall go on air to sample public opinion if what is happening to the Urhobos is fair. During the election, our old mothers came out campaigning for the election of Goodluck, but there is nothing to show for it after his election.
Do you subscribe to the argument that Urhobos sold their right?
How do we sell our right? Is it because we said we do not want Uduaghan. Later some people came and started patronizing Uduaghan. I do not have anything to do with Uduaghan. What I am saying is that we have to know our right and pursue our right.
Did you think the marginalization of the urhobos has to do with the alleged role they played in the Delta state governorship election by throwing their weight behind Chief Great Ogboru of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP)?
Whose opposition? He can ask Chief Edwin Clark or E K Turner. Has Mr. President call on the Urhobo nation or EK Clark to know about Urhobo stand during the Presidential election?
There is this rumour that Delta State Citizen Peoples Party (CPP) Governorship candidate Chief Ogbe Onokpite who was the Vice President of your organization was allegedly killed because of his critic on the manner the award of contract of pipeline surveillance was conducted. What is your take on it?
It involves money. Over N32 billion is involved in the contract for the surveillance of pipeline. While the Ijaws are collecting huge amount of money from Federal government on pipeline surveillance, the Urhobo youths are busy riding commercial motorcycles and doing other kind of odd jobs. It was then Ogbe told them that you cannot be okada riders where as some money is passing through your place? If you give the Itsekiri one thousand slots is alright. If you give Urhobo one thousand slots we will be happy. Also the Isoko and other host communities. Why is it that our people are not part of the money?
What is your stake on the present state of Delta State?
I never voted for Uduaghan. He is not my candidate. Nothing is happening in Delta State. The governor of the state has nothing to show than to say he is doing one thing or the other that is not visible. Ibori is better than Uduaghan in term of development. Nothing is happening in the state. Ibori played a good role as the governor of Delta State. His administration affected the North, South and Central Senatorial region of Delta State. There was no discrimination in Ibori’s tenure. Ibori made many people in the state. During Ibori tenure you can hear the names of people like Omo-Agege, Ifeanyi Okowa and James Manager among many others. But today, nobody no one can see who Uduaghan has made. They are even running into debts.
Then where is the state money going to? The people are not having impact of the state government, the economy is bad and Uduaghan is saying there is no money.
The three point agenda of Uduaghan is not working. There is nothing happening in Delta State. The governor is even milking funds from the hungry people. He introduced a transport system that is very expensive. Transport fair of Uduaghan bus from Ughelli to Warri is more expensive than that of the public transport.
How can the Urhobos produce a governor in 2015?
2015 is still very far. All that we need now is that we want recognition in Jonathan’s government.
How can the Urhobos be recognized in Jonathan’s government?
To be recognized, we are telling Jonathan that the Urhobo Newface Youth Association is not happy with Urhobos’ present position in his government. Our mothers have been betrayed. The Urhobos are not benefitting anything from him.
What message do you have for Jonathan?
I have been to his best Amarata Turner and told him to tell Mr President to arrange a place for Urhobo nation in his government. Jonathan did not spend a naira for his campaign in Urhobo land. We spent our money to ensure that he gets there because he is our own person. We campaigned for Jonathan asking people to vote for him.
Do you believe that the view that Urhobo is facing the problem of marginalization because they do not have a leader?
The Urhobo nation does not have a leader. Chief EK Clark is not an Urhobo man. He cannot be a leader of the Ijaw nation and Urhobo nation at the same time. Like what I said earlier we have lost most our leaders to death. But my association the Urhobo Newface has a leader with over 20,000 members. In three months from now the Urhobo Newface will mobilize our parents, relations and all Urhobo for a peaceful protest in Abuja. The essence is for Jonathan to know about the existence of those in Urhobo nation and do something about their plight.
What message do you have for the Urhobos?
The message I have for the Urhobo nation is that we should be one and always speak with one voice. “Urhobo Ovuovu.”