The Otor-Udu Declaration for Justice and Resource Control

The Otor-Udu Declaration for Justice and Resource Control

Saturday, August 1, 2020 8:58 pm



Olorogun Moses Taiga, President-General of the Urhobo Progress Union

By Okejoto Gochua 

 A century old history of rebellion against oppression and taxation without representation was re-enacted at Otor- Udu on Monday 27th July, 2020 with the marking of the 1927 anti-taxation revolt by the Urhobo and all the other ethnic nationalities that made up the Warri ( Delta ) Province; led by Chief Oshue Ogbiyerin of Orhuwhorun in Udu LGA of Delta State .

The event was organised under the auspices of the Udje Heritage Centre (UHC) and the Achoja Research Council (ARC).

The memorial event was attended by eminent personalities, dignitaries, leaders of socio-cultural organisations, women, youth, scholars, writers, activists, journalists and media experts. The occasion featured addresses, speeches, testimonies, musical performances, drama sketches on the 1927 Revolution, prayers and invocations. It was chaired by Chief (Hon.) Andrew Orugbo, the former Chairman of Udu LGA, Delta State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, and the current Chairman of Council of the Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe-Oghara. The President-General of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Olorogun Moses Taiga (JP) was the Special Guest of Honour and the Distinguished Guest of Honour was Professor Amos Agbe Utuama (SAN) former Deputy Governor of Delta State (2007-2015). 

The Royal Fathers of Honour were HRM (Barr.) Emmanuel Delekpe (JP) Ohworhu I, the Ovie of Udu Kingdom and HRM Matthew Ediri Egbi (JP) Owawha II, the Okobaro of Ughievwen Kingdom. Other Guests of Honour were Hon (Barr.) Evelyn Oboro, former Member, House of Representatives, Hon. Chief Peter Uviejitobor, Member, Delta State House of Assembly, Olorogun Vincent Oyibode (JP) Hon Commissioner, DESOPADEC (Udu, Ughelli South, Uvwie and Urhobo Kingdoms of Warri), Chief (Hon.) Jite Brown, the Chairman, Udu LGA, Chief Emmanuel Ono Okumagba (JP), Chairman, Urhobo President-Generals’ Forum, Chief Godwin Notoma, President-General, Udu Communities and Executive Committee Members of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Delta State Chapter. 

The political and intellectual significance of the ceremony was also evident in the credentials of the Speakers, namely, Prof (Mrs) Rose Oro Aziza (former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Delta State University, Abraka, Prof Sunny Awhefeada, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Delsu, Chief (Mrs) Margaret Unukegwo, Fmr Commissioner, Bendel State, and Member, Advisory and Peace-Building Council, Delta State, and Hon. Clement R. Oshue, former Vice-Chairman, Orhuwhorun Community. Entertainment was by the popular music maestros of Olorogun Oghene Bokor, Mrs Rume Otovotoma, and Mrs Ruth Christopher (nee Juju Debala). Overall coordination was by Prof Godini G. Darah, Chairman, Delta State Chapter of PANDEF and Delta State Delegate, 2014 National Conference. 

His Royal Majesty, Barr Emmanuel Delekpe , the Ovie of Udu Kingdom spoke on the need for constant remembering and retelling of our stories so that we do not forget.

He said Oshue was a great man by his very courageous actions against oppression and injustice.

The Keynote Speakers and Stakeholders examined the political and economic significance of the Anti-Taxation revolt and affirmed that it was a revolutionary initiative that redefined the historical and cultural identity of the Western Niger Delta. According to Prof Godini G.Darah “it was agreed that our ancestors undertook the audacious revolt to challenge British colonial policies of exploitation and injustice against the peoples of the region. In the light of these facts, we the inheritors of that proud heritage are bound by historical duty to revive that spirit of nationalism and self-determination in our current struggles to liberate the Niger Delta from decades of economic plunder and neglect as well as political oppression perpetuated by the Nigerian government and its foreign accomplices. “

Accordingly, the Stakeholders in their communique resolved as follows:

1. 

(i) Oppressive taxation and government neglect were the immediate causes of the 1927 uprising. Considering that peoples of the five nations still suffer from these unjust and oppressive policies 100 years after, therefore the meeting called on the Government of Delta State to grant a three-year tax holiday to low-income groups, and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) to enable them cope with the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

(ii) Abolition of all forms of illegal and arbitrary taxes, levies, and bribe-taking by corrupt members of the Police, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Joint Task Force (JTF), Customs, Immigration, Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO), State Tax Board, Traffic Wardens, and Mobile Courts, Local Government Revenue Personnel as well as touts and vendors who behave worse than the British Warrant Officers and tax police during the colonial period 100 years ago. 

(iii) In place of these menacing tax and extortion touts, Delta State Government should develop efficient corruption-free methods of raising public revenue by appointing accredited agents and vendors with capacity to deploy modern, technology-compliant instruments for highways, markets, super stores, educational institutions, courts, community centres, public facilities, utilities, etc. More revenue will be earned through these electronic methods. 

2. The historic memorial gathering took place at Otor-Udu, in Udu LGA and the operational headquarters of the Oshue-led Revolution of 1927. Otor-Udu is also one of the host communities of the Utorogu Gas Plant, the largest in Black Africa. Therefore, it was resolved that:

a. Urgent and necessary measures be taken to make the Government of Nigeria and the management of the Utorogu Gas Plant to implement all policies relating to local content by way of employment, contracts, surveillance services and social responsibility obligations.

b. Completion of the Gas Revolution Industrial Park (GRIP) at Ogidigben and its Deep Sea Port at Okerenkoko in Warri Southwest LGA.

c. Establishment of Utorogu Institute of Technology (UIT) and Amai Institute of Technology (AIT) to develop global cities and infrastructure like those of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Silicon Valley in California State, USA.

3. As a fitting tribute to their sacrifice and patriotic spirit, the Government of Delta State and the appropriate Local Government Councils should name public places and centres after Chief Oshue Ogbiyerin and the other revolutionary leaders of the 1927 Anti-Taxation Movement to immortalise their legacy and inspire new generations of brave and selfless leaders.

4. The Stakeholders were gratified to note that the 1927 Anti-Taxation revolt was the first major anti-colonial uprising by minority ethnic groups in Southern Nigeria after the 1914 Amalgamation Policy by Captain Frederick Lugard. While saluting the bravery and sagacity of Oshue and his comrades, the meeting enjoined contemporary generations to celebrate other heroes and heroines of our people, including Ovie Oghwe, the Agbarha-Otor King arrested and exiled with Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi of Benin by the British in 1897, General Ogidigbo of Ughievwen Kingdom, HRM Ovedje Sadjere of Ovwor, Urhobo first-millionaire monarch; Chief Mukoro Mowoe, Messrs McNeil Gabriel Ejaife and Ezekiel Igho (the first Urhobo university graduates), Chief T.E.A. Salubi (first Urhobo Government Minister), Dr. Frederick Esiri (first medical doctor) and Chief Samuel Jereton Mariere, first Governor of Midwestern Region (1964-1966). 

Other Urhobo cultural icons are Chief Yamu Numa of Ekuigbo, author of the book, Urhobo: Pride of a Nation (1948), Mrs Alice Obahor, eminent woman politician and merchant, Chief Michael Ibru, Africa’s pre-eminent business tycoon, Chief A.T. Rerri, pioneer investor in electronics education, Professor Frank Ukoli (first Urhobo Professor), General David Ejoor, (pioneer Military Governor of Midwestern Region), Dr. Mark Otedoh, expert-inventor of raffia palm industries, Professors Omafume Onoge, Onigu Otite and Peter Ekeh for global scholarship, Comrade Frank Ovie-Kokori, leader of Oil Workers’ Strike of 1994 against Gen. Sani Abacha’s terrorist regime, Ms Blessing Okagbare, Africa’s queen of Athletics and Olympic medalist. 

5. The meeting lamented the problem of youth alienation and disorientation arising from the failure of parents and elders to inculcate cherished Urhobo values of hard work, industry, honesty and equity. A call was made to the leaders of Urhobo Kingdoms to rise up from their stupor and craze for material wealth to work with various government agencies to incorporate into the education curricula the traditional principles of incorruptible and accountable leadership, trado-medical knowledge, enterprise, and self-reliance.

Mothers, the prime managers of families are to re-educate themselves by being the cradle counsellors of children to insulate them from negative, foreign influences of riches-without-labour, moral laxity, sexual indiscipline, and tendency to criminal conduct. These are the best ways to engender the spirit of nationalism and revolutionary leadership epitomised by Oshue Ogbiyerin and his compatriots of Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko and Ukwuani.

6. On insecurity and influx of undesirable strangers into the Western Niger Delta, the Stakeholders gathering urged the apex socio-cultural organisations of the Urhobo, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko, Ukwuani, Ika and Igbo nations to take immediate steps to free their lands of such elements (armed herdsmen, kidnappers, criminals, nomadic miscreants, etc) that threaten the peace, stability and socio-economic environment of the region.

7. The meeting expressed disappointment about the shameful conduct of Niger Delta executives at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and other interventionist agencies. The recent probe on corruption and graft by the National Assembly exposed unpatriotic and greedy Niger Delta personnel who have converted the NDDC into a source of illegal wealth acquisitions, responsible for the low performance of the Commission over the years.

The meeting endorsed severe penalties for these enemies of the region; they should be investigated and prosecuted for underdeveloping the region and for giving the false impression that the people of the region are not accountable and reliable in public office. All those found guilty in the probe must be compelled to refund all stolen resources and face appropriate jail terms. The meeting also observed that these scandalous cases of graft and corruption are common primarily because the Federal Government deliberately appoints political sycophants to head the agencies. The Government should abide by the Provision of the NDDC Act, dismantle the illegal Interim Management Committee, inaugurate the Board already confirmed by the National assembly, and pay the over One Trillion Naira arrears of Federal Government subvention to the NDDC to enable it function effectively. 

8. Stakeholders underscored the point that the five nations of the former Warri Province are bona fide indigenes of their lands and waterways richly endowed by God and Nature with oil, natural gas, solid minerals, forests and precious biodiversity resources. It was further affirmed that revenues from our oil and gas resources account for 90% of Nigeria’s export earnings and are the mainstay of the national economy and political survival. Regrettably, the benefits of these abundant resources have been denied our people due to deliberate government neglect and punitive laws and policies for many decades. Consequently, the Niger Delta has been reduced to the poorest and the most wretched oil-rich region of the world. To redeem the region from perpetual political and economic slavery, the five nations of Urhobo, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko and Ukwuani are implored to pursue the struggle for equity, justice and federalist autonomy through the peaceful platform of Restructuring endorsed by the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and its allies in the other geo-political zones, with particular focus on the implementation of the progressive recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.

__________ A century old history of resistance to oppression and taxation without representation was re-enacted at Otor- Udu on Monday 27th July, 2020 with the marking of the 1927 anti-taxation revolt by the Urhobo and all the other ethnic nationalities that made up the Warri ( Delta ) Province; led by Chief Oshue Ogbiyerin of Orhuwhorun in Udu LGA of Delta State .

The event was organised under the auspices of the Udje Heritage Centre (UHC) and the Achoja Research Council (ARC).

The memorial event was attended by eminent personalities, dignitaries, leaders of socio-cultural organisations, women, youth, scholars, writers, activists, journalists and media experts. The occasion featured addresses, speeches, testimonies, musical performances, drama sketches on the 1927 Revolution, prayers and invocations. It was chaired by Chief (Hon.) Andrew Orugbo, the former Chairman of Udu LGA, Delta State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, and the current Chairman of Council of the Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe-Oghara. The President-General of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Olorogun Moses Taiga (JP) was the Special Guest of Honour and the Distinguished Guest of Honour was Professor Amos Agbe Utuama (SAN) former Deputy Governor of Delta State (2007-2015). 

The Royal Fathers of Honour were HRM (Barr.) Emmanuel Delekpe (JP) Ohworhu I, the Ovie of Udu Kingdom and HRM Matthew Ediri Egbi (JP) Owawha II, the Okobaro of Ughievwen Kingdom. Other Guests of Honour were Hon (Barr.) Evelyn Oboro, former Member, House of Representatives, Hon. Chief Peter Uviejitobor, Member, Delta State House of Assembly, Olorogun Vincent Oyibode (JP) Hon Commissioner, DESOPADEC (Udu, Ughelli South, Uvwie and Urhobo Kingdoms of Warri), Chief (Hon.) Jite Brown, the Chairman, Udu LGA, Chief Emmanuel Ono Okumagba (JP), Chairman, Urhobo President-Generals’ Forum, Chief Godwin Notoma, President-General, Udu Communities and Executive Committee Members of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Delta State Chapter. 

The political and intellectual significance of the ceremony was also evident in the credentials of the Speakers, namely, Prof (Mrs) Rose Oro Aziza (former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Delta State University, Abraka, Prof Sunny Awhefeada, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Delsu, Chief (Mrs) Margaret Unukegwo, Fmr Commissioner, Bendel State, and Member, Advisory and Peace-Building Council, Delta State, and Hon. Clement R. Oshue, former Vice-Chairman, Orhuwhorun Community. Entertainment was by the popular music maestros of Olorogun Oghene Bokor, Mrs Rume Otovotoma, and Mrs Ruth Christopher (nee Juju Debala). Overall coordination was by Prof Godini G. Darah, Chairman, Delta State Chapter of PANDEF and Delta State Delegate, 2014 National Conference. 

His Royal Majesty, Barr Emmanuel Delekpe , the Ovie of Udu Kingdom spoke on the need for constant remembering and retelling of our stories so that we do not forget.

He said Oshue was a great man by his very courageous actions against oppression and injustice.

The Keynote Speakers and Stakeholders examined the political and economic significance of the Anti-Taxation revolt and affirmed that it was a revolutionary initiative that redefined the historical and cultural identity of the Western Niger Delta. According to Prof Godini G.Darah “it was agreed that our ancestors undertook the audacious revolt to challenge British colonial policies of exploitation and injustice against the peoples of the region. In the light of these facts, we the inheritors of that proud heritage are bound by historical duty to revive that spirit of nationalism and self-determination in our current struggles to liberate the Niger Delta from decades of economic plunder and neglect as well as political oppression perpetuated by the Nigerian government and its foreign accomplices. “

Accordingly, the Stakeholders in their communique resolved as follows:

1. 

(i) Oppressive taxation and government neglect were the immediate causes of the 1927 uprising. Considering that peoples of the five nations still suffer from these unjust and oppressive policies 100 years after, therefore the meeting called on the Government of Delta State to grant a three-year tax holiday to low-income groups, and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) to enable them cope with the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

(ii) Abolition of all forms of illegal and arbitrary taxes, levies, and bribe-taking by corrupt members of the Police, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Joint Task Force (JTF), Customs, Immigration, Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO), State Tax Board, Traffic Wardens, and Mobile Courts, Local Government Revenue Personnel as well as touts and vendors who behave worse than the British Warrant Officers and tax police during the colonial period 100 years ago. 

(iii) In place of these menacing tax and extortion touts, Delta State Government should develop efficient corruption-free methods of raising public revenue by appointing accredited agents and vendors with capacity to deploy modern, technology-compliant instruments for highways, markets, super stores, educational institutions, courts, community centres, public facilities, utilities, etc. More revenue will be earned through these electronic methods. 

2. The historic memorial gathering took place at Otor-Udu, in Udu LGA and the operational headquarters of the Oshue-led Revolution of 1927. Otor-Udu is also one of the host communities of the Utorogu Gas Plant, the largest in Black Africa. Therefore, it was resolved that:

a. Urgent and necessary measures be taken to make the Government of Nigeria and the management of the Utorogu Gas Plant to implement all policies relating to local content by way of employment, contracts, surveillance services and social responsibility obligations.

b. Completion of the Gas Revolution Industrial Park (GRIP) at Ogidigben and its Deep Sea Port at Okerenkoko in Warri Southwest LGA.

c. Establishment of Utorogu Institute of Technology (UIT) and Amai Institute of Technology (AIT) to develop global cities and infrastructure like those of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Silicon Valley in California State, USA.

3. As a fitting tribute to their sacrifice and patriotic spirit, the Government of Delta State and the appropriate Local Government Councils should name public places and centres after Chief Oshue Ogbiyerin and the other revolutionary leaders of the 1927 Anti-Taxation Movement to immortalise their legacy and inspire new generations of brave and selfless leaders.

4. The Stakeholders were gratified to note that the 1927 Anti-Taxation revolt was the first major anti-colonial uprising by minority ethnic groups in Southern Nigeria after the 1914 Amalgamation Policy by Captain Frederick Lugard. While saluting the bravery and sagacity of Oshue and his comrades, the meeting enjoined contemporary generations to celebrate other heroes and heroines of our people, including Ovie Oghwe, the Agbarha-Otor King arrested and exiled with Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi of Benin by the British in 1897, General Ogidigbo of Ughievwen Kingdom, HRM Ovedje Sadjere of Ovwor, Urhobo first-millionaire monarch; Chief Mukoro Mowoe, Messrs McNeil Gabriel Ejaife and Ezekiel Igho (the first Urhobo university graduates), Chief T.E.A. Salubi (first Urhobo Government Minister), Dr. Frederick Esiri (first medical doctor) and Chief Samuel Jereton Mariere, first Governor of Midwestern Region (1964-1966). 

Other Urhobo cultural icons are Chief Yamu Numa of Ekuigbo, author of the book, Urhobo: Pride of a Nation (1948), Mrs Alice Obahor, eminent woman politician and merchant, Chief Michael Ibru, Africa’s pre-eminent business tycoon, Chief A.T. Rerri, pioneer investor in electronics education, Professor Frank Ukoli (first Urhobo Professor), General David Ejoor, (pioneer Military Governor of Midwestern Region), Dr. Mark Otedoh, expert-inventor of raffia palm industries, Professors Omafume Onoge, Onigu Otite and Peter Ekeh for global scholarship, Comrade Frank Ovie-Kokori, leader of Oil Workers’ Strike of 1994 against Gen. Sani Abacha’s terrorist regime, Ms Blessing Okagbare, Africa’s queen of Athletics and Olympic medalist. 

5. The meeting lamented the problem of youth alienation and disorientation arising from the failure of parents and elders to inculcate cherished Urhobo values of hard work, industry, honesty and equity. A call was made to the leaders of Urhobo Kingdoms to rise up from their stupor and craze for material wealth to work with various government agencies to incorporate into the education curricula the traditional principles of incorruptible and accountable leadership, trado-medical knowledge, enterprise, and self-reliance.

Mothers, the prime managers of families are to re-educate themselves by being the cradle counsellors of children to insulate them from negative, foreign influences of riches-without-labour, moral laxity, sexual indiscipline, and tendency to criminal conduct. These are the best ways to engender the spirit of nationalism and revolutionary leadership epitomised by Oshue Ogbiyerin and his compatriots of Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko and Ukwuani.

6. On insecurity and influx of undesirable strangers into the Western Niger Delta, the Stakeholders gathering urged the apex socio-cultural organisations of the Urhobo, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko, Ukwuani, Ika and Igbo nations to take immediate steps to free their lands of such elements (armed herdsmen, kidnappers, criminals, nomadic miscreants, etc) that threaten the peace, stability and socio-economic environment of the region.

7. The meeting expressed disappointment about the shameful conduct of Niger Delta executives at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and other interventionist agencies. The recent probe on corruption and graft by the National Assembly exposed unpatriotic and greedy Niger Delta personnel who have converted the NDDC into a source of illegal wealth acquisitions, responsible for the low performance of the Commission over the years.

The meeting endorsed severe penalties for these enemies of the region; they should be investigated and prosecuted for underdeveloping the region and for giving the false impression that the people of the region are not accountable and reliable in public office. All those found guilty in the probe must be compelled to refund all stolen resources and face appropriate jail terms. The meeting also observed that these scandalous cases of graft and corruption are common primarily because the Federal Government deliberately appoints political sycophants to head the agencies. The Government should abide by the Provision of the NDDC Act, dismantle the illegal Interim Management Committee, inaugurate the Board already confirmed by the National assembly, and pay the over One Trillion Naira arrears of Federal Government subvention to the NDDC to enable it function effectively. 

8. Stakeholders underscored the point that the five nations of the former Warri Province are bona fide indigenes of their lands and waterways richly endowed by God and Nature with oil, natural gas, solid minerals, forests and precious biodiversity resources. It was further affirmed that revenues from our oil and gas resources account for 90% of Nigeria’s export earnings and are the mainstay of the national economy and political survival. Regrettably, the benefits of these abundant resources have been denied our people due to deliberate government neglect and punitive laws and policies for many decades. Consequently, the Niger Delta has been reduced to the poorest and the most wretched oil-rich region of the world. To redeem the region from perpetual political and economic slavery, the five nations of Urhobo, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko and Ukwuani are implored to pursue the struggle for equity, justice and federalist autonomy through the peaceful platform of Restructuring endorsed by the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and its allies in the other geo-political zones, with particular focus on the implementation of the progressive recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. In conclusion, there is the urgent need to underscore the point that Oshue’s Revolt was the first post amalgamation revolt in the southern region among the so-called minority groups. Prof Sunny Awhefeada noted how the revolt inspired a similar one in Owerri Province in 1929. He said the revolt also encouraged the formation of the UPU in 1931; which dovetailed into what he termed the “Internal Colonialism and the Enemy Within”, Awhefeada lamented that at present the Whitemen are gone but our own brothers now Oppress us and underdevelop our region. He cited the shameful and embarrassing revelations at the ongoing NDDC probe which shows how our own Niger Delta politicians steal our Commonwealth. 

Overall speaker after speaker hinted on the need for economic revival of Urhobo land through indigenous production as well as our youths making themselves available to be mentored by the elderly .

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