Olorogun Jaro Omovudu Egbo is no doubt a popular figure in Delta State political terrain. He is the National Youth Leader of Urhobo Political Congress, Deputy President of Urhobo Youth Council and also Secretary of Ibori Political Associates. In an interview withOGHENEKEVWE LABA at Ughelli, Egbo bares his mind on President Goodluck Jonathan marginalization of Urhobo people, the travails of Ibori and the way forward for Urhobo nation in 2015
Despite the criticism trailing Ex-Governor of Delta State Chief James ibori, you and your associates insist on defending him. Why?
Our support and protest for Ibori came from the shabby manner he was handled in this country. I am not saying that Ibori is a saint, I am not saying that Ibori did not commit some of the things he is being accused of. Today we are talking of South-South, resource control and South – South presidency among others. It was somebody that laid the foundation for this. It was somebody who funded the Musa Yar’Adua/ Goodluck Jonathan presidential election. It was because of the foundation laid by Ibori that was why Jonathan was considered for the position of Vice Presidential slot. The beneficiary of the election is President Goodluck Jonathan. The pay back from Jonathan is to hunt and pursue Ibori into foreign land.
Go round the whole Delta State and see what Ibori achieved during his tenure. Alamaseigha, Jonathan and Silver all their period put together as governor of Bayelsa State did not equal Ibori’s achievements in Delta State. This is a man who built world class teaching hospital in Oghara, this is a man during the Warri crisis he took Chief Ek Clark from Warri to Ughelli. Built a road to his home town Kiagbodo, renovated his house and put him there for safety. This was the man the first in time to link the Ijaw nation to national grid through Patani. This is a man who built the longest bridge in Ijaw land.
Urhobo incurred loses during the Warri crisis because of their support for the Ijaw nation. Immediately they got power they put Urhobo nation aside. Ministerial slot reserved for Urhobo was given to an Ijaw indigene. We are not in Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), DESOPADEC we are not there as chairman, while NIMASA has an Ijaw man. The Ijaws are too greedy. They have taking everything. The people of Bayelsa have less than 500,000 votes during the presidential election as against Delta state Urhobo votes of 880,000 votes. Today we are not minister, not special adviser, assistant or even ambassador. We are saying that if Ibori were to be in Nigeria Urhobo would not have be suffering this high level of marginalization.
Chief, are you saying that the Urhobos are marginalize in President Goodluck Jonathan government?
We are fully marginalized. Since 1968, this is the first time we are totally left out of the reign of governance. In pipeline surveillance he took out the Urhobos. He awarded contract for coastal lease and the Urhobos are schemed out. He is trying to strangulate the Urhobos. The East-West road you will not construct and you have collected billions everywhere. If not for personal vendetta how many governors have been prosecuted of corruption and other offences.
If your insinuation of urhobos marginalization is true, what is the reason behind such action?
It is vendetta.
Can you explain?
The vendetta there is that the Ijaw man believes that the Urhobos will swallow them. All are support for them is being put to question. This is a man we gave 855,000 votes during the presidential election. The whole of Bayelsa could not muster 500,000 votes. If we support you and you are paying us back this way because you said Ibori did not want you to become president. But the same man who did not want you to become president funded your campaign. I was a witness to it. Ibori did all that he did so that we in the South-South can have a place. Ibori started the fight for resource control and today they are enjoying it. Our protest is base on the fact that the man they are trying to demonize is even better than them. Let them mention what they did in Bayelsa during their tenures. As I am speaking with you four governors of Bayelsa could not complete Tombia bridge which is like a culvert.
Are you indirectly saying Ibori was oppressed?
Ibori is being oppressed of course. Ibori is a Nigerian so if a Nigerian court cleared him why pursuing him. That same court that cleared Ibori also cleared some of them and their wives. When the court cleared them they are not corrupt, but when the same court cleared Ibori, Ibori must be taking abroad for trial. Can any of them stand the text of time if they are facing London court? E.K. Clark was an ex-convict. It took Ibori magnanimity to release his property for him. Just name one of the Ijaw men who has not been convicted or accused and maneuver his way out. So why is Ibori’s case different? We will continue to fight and protest before the President until we are recognized.
It is like the Urhobos and non Urhobos have lost confident on the person of Ibori. What will you tell the people in order to restore their confidence on him?
I do not think people have lost confidence him. When we came out with the idea of celebrating Ibori’s birthday there were mass response from everywhere. But for some reason beyond our control which has to do with Ibori losing his brother, we have to call off the celebration. Everybody wants to be at Oghara. We have now seen that without Ibori on the scene, the Urhobo man is nowhere. We must have someone on top who will say where is our own? We do not have that any more. With the absent of Ibori, there is no one in Urhobo nation you can run to as a central figure. Right now we do not have a pillar. We need to be with Ibori. We know that he has our support. Whatever happened to him he will come back home by the grace of God and take the mantle of leadership.
Beside the excuse of the death of Ibori’s brother, there is this unfounded rumour that there are other reasons for the abortion of the celebration of Ibori’s birthday. Can you throw more light on it?
I do not want to look at other reasons. If not for the lost of Ibori’s immediate elder brother Mr Andrew Ibori, I do not know any Jupiter they would have stopped us from celebrating Ibori’s birthday. We are not going there to carry arms or protest. We are only gathering at his private residence to celebrate our ‘oga’day. Mark you, arrangements are in top gear to declare every August 4thin Oghara land as public holiday for Ibori. This is to tell you that the people want him. The birthday arrangement was not just Urhobo affairs. People intend to come from Yenogoa, Port Harcourt, Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom States. It would have looked like a carnival. We wanted to pray for the President that day because we know that he was being misled.
How can Urhobos regain their political glory?
The problem we have in Urhobo nation is that this our republican nature works against us. Everybody is a lord. In the last election Urhobos with one voice voted for DPP Governorship candidate Chief Great Ogboru. It was unfortunate that it did not work that way. It is not because we did not like Ogboru, it is because we know that the political gladiators were against him. Well we lost out in the election. 2015 is another election. I am advising that if Urhobo is not made governor in 2015, we should decide who becomes the governor. He may not be an Urhobo indigene but Urhobo must play a larger role in the election so that we will gain in term of strategic appointments.
Finally sir, what is your advise for moving Urhobo nation forward?
They must be very vigilant and must not use their votes anyhow. Democracy is a game of number. We have fifty percent of the votes. If politics is a game of number we should make sure that our votes count and our votes decide who become the governor of Delta State come 2015.
Interview conducted by a Lagos based journalist Oghenekevwe Laba