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Urhobo Foundation demands return to true federalism

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The Urhobo Foundation has called for a united Nigeria that allows for the expressions of diversity of the constituent ethnic and social groups. The group also wants a return to the immediate post-independence constitution that guaranteed fiscal federalism. These are some of the main resolutions in the communiqué of the 2017 Annual Lecture of Urhobo Foundation, the think-tank of Urhobo intellectuals and professionals, that held recently at the Radisson-Blu Anchorage, Victoria Island, Lagos. In a press release from the Urhobo Foundation signed by Olorogun Ese Okobiah and Mr Benson Uwheru, it said the Lecture was chosen to address “the debates on restructuring of the Nigerian federation as they affect the Urhobo nation.”

The lecture had Professor Gordini G. Darah, Professor of Folklore and Oral Literature at Delta State University Abraka, as Guest Speaker, and as discussants: Professor Ben Oghojafor, DVC (Administration) University of Lagos; Professor (Mrs) Otete Okobiah, VC, Western Delta University Oghara; Professor Joe Abugu of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos; Chief Ede Dafinone of D.O. Dafinone & Co and Mr Ese Onosode, Chairman, Delta State Economic Summit Group. It attracted Urhobos from a diverse range of interest and persuasions and federalists from across the country. Mr Emmanuel Okotete, Executive vice Chairman, Hybrid Oil & Gas Limited moderated the session, which held on July 27th 2017.

In a communiqué after the lecture, the Urhobo Foundation noted that the Urhobo Nation is “a very proud and enterprising people” and frowned at “the way some ethnic nationalities continue to covet the wealth of Urhobo land by their inclusion of the Urhobo Nation in their ‘republics’ through deliberate misstatement of facts and their redrawn map of Nigeria.”

It observed that: “the current campaign for the restructuring of Nigeria’s political and economic systems is an opportunity for patriotic and freedom-loving people to rally together in defence of equity, justice, and federalism. The Urhobo Nation supports this call because the current Federal government mechanisms are not adequate for running our multi-ethnic, culturally diverse and economically backward country.

We remain committed to a great and United Nigeria subject to a renegotiation of our terms of engagement and resolution of the National Question.”

The Urhobo Foundation added that, “to engender a fair territorial redistribution, Nigeria must revert to true federalism of the old federal system as enshrined in the 1960 Constitution where the federating units owned and controlled their resources to drive their developments under their respective constitution. The Niger Delta in general, and Urhobo land specifically are victims of injustice in Nigeria. We abhor the 13% Derivation formula in its entirety as it portends an 87% Deprivation sharing formula.”

It noted that the “exodus of critical oil company and allied operations away from the Niger Delta is the genesis of diversion of resources away from the region and a significant factor in the deterioration of the economy of Urhobo land,” and demanded that the “Operating headquarters of oil and allied companies operating in the area must relocate back to the region and all pipeline security and sundry oil services contracts must be awarded within the communities where the pipeline are located and operations carried out.”

The Foundation said it is midwifing a “25-Year Master Development Plan for the industrialisation of the Urhobo Nation.” The Foundation says the masterplan, which will involve all key stakeholders will focus on Education, Agriculture, Power and Energy, Industry and the preservation of the Language and Traditions the Urhobo people.



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