By Amos Igbebe
Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Monday Igbuya, has accused the Urhobo people of Delta Central over the prison custody being served by the former Governor of the state, Chief James Onanefe Ibori.
Igbuya, who received the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) executive in his office on Thursday, fired shots at his kinsmen, insisting that the incarceration of Chief James Ibori was the handiwork of the Urhobo people who have continuously preached hatred and animosity among themselves.
He expressed sadness over the long stay of Ibori in London prison, saying the Urhobo people have thrown away dignity and unity and are killing each other and their children publicly.
“Who kept Ibori in prison? They are Urhobo people. Persecutors of Ibori are not strangers. They are not from Delta North, Delta South and South West. They are our kith and kin. The pillar of the Urhobo political class is incarcerated. How can Urhobo move forward politically? We do not know beyond Asaba and even the Asaba we know, we do not know the doors or machines to open.
“The man who knows what doors or instrument to touch, we used our hands to cage him. We are crying and shouting that Urhobo should move forward politically. It is very unfortunate that this cannot be achieved because the pillar of Urhobo is in prison,” he said.
The Speaker, who condemned the plot to stop a governor of Anioma extraction in 2015, told his kinsmen that the next governorship candidate for 2019 was the sitting Governor, warning the Urhobos not to endorse any candidate other than Senator Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP.
He told the people that the crusade for Okowa’s second term had begun, even though the Governor has not completed one year in office as a serving Governor of Delta State.
Though his position runs counter to the views of the UPU, the apex socio-cultural group of the Urhobos of Delta central, who through its President General, Chief Gabriel Ofotokun, has insisted that Okowa must negotiate with the Urhobos and meet their terms before crusading for second term.
“We have come thus far. We have endorsed Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa for 2019. We need your prayers to achieve that agenda”, Igbuya told the UPU executives.
The Speaker, who blamed the past executive of the UPU for the dismal performance of the Urhobo nation in the 2015 governorship polls, said “Some gullible fellows turned the Urhobo nation into a trading port. They commercialized the leadership of our ethnic group, thereby destroying the foundation and unity of the Urhobo nation. That is what we are suffering today. That is why the fifth largest group in Nigeria is not recognized anywhere in the country”.
Igbuya explained that “Itsekiri is a minority group in the state. In Warri South, Warri South West and Warri North, the Urhobos are there. There are Ijaw people in these local government areas but they produced a governor in the person of Emmanuel Uduaghan. Why on earth would anyone say that Delta North with nine local government areas and highest number of wards in the state cannot produce a governor?
“There is no Urhobo local government that has more than eleven wards. There are local government areas in Delta North that have twelve and fourteen wards each. Politics is a game of number. Some of us insisted on equity. If an Itsekiri man can become the governor of Delta State, what should stop somebody from Delta North becoming governor?
Clearly, we knew we were not going to make it. However, some commercial UPU leaders were banning, cursing, swearing and doing all sort of trading. The UPU became factionalized after collecting millions from Abuja. A faction endorsed the APC candidate, while another faction endorsed the Labour Party candidate. That was why we fell because we were divided”.