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Creation of Uneme Uzanu clan will accelerate development- Clement Agba, the Ofevwosi of Uneme

By Gabriel Omonhinmin
09 December 2018   |   4:21 am
Chief Clement Agba holds the title of “Ofevwosi,” the liberator of the people of Southeast Uneme Uzanu clan. The title is suggestive of the pivotal...

Chief Clement Agba holds the title of “Ofevwosi,” the liberator of the people of Southeast Uneme Uzanu clan. The title is suggestive of the pivotal role he played in the creation of the clan, during his tenure as Commissioner of Environment during administration of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.

The protracted struggle for creation of Uzanu clan out of Anegbete clan, which had been the only traditional home of Uneme people, will be officially stamped on Friday, December 28, 2018, when Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, will present Staff of Office to the Oliolia of Uzanu of Southeast Uneme clan, His Royal Majesty Benjamin Ikani, in a groundbreaking event at Uzanu in Etsako East Local Council of Edo state.

Towards this end, a high-powered committee has been working to ensure that the ceremony, expected to attract dignitaries from across the country, lived up to its billings.

Palace Watch spoke with Chief Clement Agba, who has been playing a leading role in all these arrangements.

What would you say motivated creation of this new clan?
I feel very good and elated that the South East Uneme, Uzanu is now a clan. I am also very grateful to God, because for a very long time, there had been this misconception that the South East Uneme people from Uzanu are Weppa Uwanu. Sadly, people from
These areas have always regarded us as strangers in our land. With this creation, that impression has been corrected.

A long time ago, when the late Okumagbe Ugbodaga was the clan head of Weppa Uwanu, he was also our clan head then. With Uzanu being the first child of Uneme and Anegbete, it was so strange that Weppa and Uwanu people claimed we were part of them, and that we were even their junior, strangers and slaves.

Is it true that the late presentation of staff of office was due to the court case filed by the current Okumagbe of Uwanu against Uneme people?
That is not exactly true. We, the people of South East Uneme Uzanu wanted a more convenient time for the presentation of staff of office to be done. For instance, I was working on my country home. There was a fire incident that set me back. And I knew if there were going to be such an occasion, I would be hosting some people during. The Okumagbe taking us to court was not what delayed the presentation. We were taken to court for a totally different thing that had to do with land and boundaries issues. But these have long been settled at the Supreme Court.

So there is now peace between South East Uneme Uzanu and the Weppa, especially the Uwanu people…
I must say we have always had autonomy as a people. The creation of South East Uneme Uzanu clan has, however, helped to put things in true perspective, because Uzanu was and had always been under South Uneme clan, under the rulership of the Oliola of Anegbete. There was never a time we were part of Weppa or Uwanu. We are only neighbours and share boundaries. But because our then clan head was in faraway Anegbete, and with Etsako being split into three local government areas, a lot of people misunderstood this and said Uzanu, Ukpeko, Ogwoya and all Uneme communities in those areas were part of Weppa Uwanu. And this is what the creation of this clan has settled.

Now in the present day Etsako East Council, Uneme people are on their own and no longer belong to anyone. We, however, still respect and adore the Oliola of Anegbete. He is still the head of all Uneme traditional rulers, being the first son of Uneme, our father. Uzanu was the first child of Uneme as it were, but she was a woman, which was partly why before now, Uzanu was never made the clan head. 

Regarding relationship with Weppa and Uwanu people, as far as I know, we don’t have any issues with them. We only had issue with an individual, who was the then head of Weppa and Uwanu clan. He claimed we were settlers and his servants. This was at the heart of the disagreement. Long before him, there were other Okumagbes, and we never had issues with them. In fact, the first Okumagbe was my father’s cousin.

Because we inter marry, we have the Agbas from Igiode. My uncle, who is the head of Agba’s family, today, is from Weppa Uwanu.

What are you doing to ensure people from Uzanu join in the efforts to develop Uneme Uzanu?
There are some people from my place that are very keen on developing South East Uneme Uzanu, and we have started meeting to strategise on how to bring about development to our place. We often meet and have a think tank in place. I am the only person that has been in government. I only complement these people’s efforts at ensuring Uneme Uzanu is better than we met it.

For every period in a man’s life, there is usually an arrowhead. If that is the role I am presently playing in the case of South East Uneme Uzanu, I give thanks and glory to God. That is the way God has designed it. When we meet to plan, some of the thoughts and ideas might not necessarily be mine, but as we brainstorm, other people throw up things. All I do is to help ensure that those ideas are brought to fruition.

The secondary school in my place was built a long time ago, but it was closed for about 30 years. However, we must thank former Governor Adams Oshiomole for reopening it, and the school is functioning. We look forward to government playing its part in terms of putting necessary infrastructure in the school. 

But as a community, we are pooling resources together to ensure that necessary facilities are there. We are presently building a Corpers’ Lodge in the place. The Edo State Government, under Oshiomole did quite a lot in ensuring that we have accessible roads.

On a personal note, my wife and I for instance, have provided some boreholes in the place. But again, this is where communities need to help themselves. Sadly, my people allowed these facilities to run down. The generator that was provided there was never maintained. Their expectation is that we should continue to maintain and fuel it. One man can’t run a community; others need to make their inputs for advancement.

To that extent, I think maybe as a community, we have failed. But compared to other communities around us, we have reasonably tried in terms of infrastructure. In the area of electricity, I led some of my other brothers and friends in ensuring that our community has streetlights, which were commissioned sometimes in 2004.

My only worry is that, when things go bad, they expect the people, who provided them to come and fix them. That is not good enough. This is where communal efforts should come in. Every village in Uneme Uzanu has streetlights.

What are you doing to ensure that your rich culture is projected to the outside world?
Just three days ago, a section of the think- tank met on this aspect of our plans, and this was one area we deliberate upon a lot— how to resuscitate our culture and values. There is, therefore, something in the works in this regard.