2019: Urhobo Monarchs under Fire for Endorsing Okowa


Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

The President-General of the youth wing of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), Mr Blessing Ovwata, has denounced the action of Urhobo traditional rulers for giving their collective blessing to the Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, in his bid to return as governor in 2019.

Ovwata said that he took strong exception to the decision of the Urhobo royal fathers to pass a vote of confidence on Governor Okowa, another way of saying they were throwing their weight behind Okowa’s re-election bid.

The UPU youth wing president described the action of the Urhobo monarchs last Thursday as divisive and never a true reflection of the diverse political interest of Urhobo sons and daughters, who the royal fathers by their very position ought to represent.

He wondered how the monarchs who should be non-partisan, being traditional fathers of all Urhobo people, should take such a purely political action.

He said that the action of the monarchs was, therefore, “misleading, unsolicited, political and morally unjustifiable”, stressing that even the ancestors of Urhobo ethnic nations were also displeased by their action.

The visibly angry Ovwata said: “It is highly unbelievable that monarchs who are known to be non-political could deviate from their revered role as custodians of the traditional and cultural values of their people to pass a vote of confidence on a governor because of their own parochial and selfish interests.

“With this action, our kings have turned to politicians otherwise they have no reason passing a vote of confidence on the state Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa. Posterity will definitely judge them.

“As royal fathers, their role is to bless all the aspirants and not to mortgage the political interests of their subjects. Urhobo is blessed with high-profile politicians with various political ideologies and affiliations.

“It is therefore an aberration for our revered monarchs to pass a vote of confidence on Dr Ifeanyi Okowa without considering the political aspirations of their subjects.”

However, the executive assistant to Governor Okowa on communications, Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, who is also Urhobo, maintains that the action of the royal fathers last week would definitely point the way to vote for the generality of Urhobo people in 2019, saying their position was supported by all the local government areas comprising Delta Central Senatorial District.

When the Urhobo royal fathers met last week with Dr Okowa at the palace of the Orodje of Okpe, Orhue I, Felix Mujakperuo (retired General) in Okpe Local Government Area of the state, the Ovie of Agbon Kingdom, Mike Omeru Ogurimerime Ukori I, moved the motion for vote of confidence.

“For the first time in the history of Delta State, we have a governor who relates well with the traditional rulers to brief them about what his administration is doing. We raised some issues which he addressed to our satisfaction,” he said, adding: “We are with you (Governor Okowa), come rain, come shine, and I, Mike Omeru Ogurimerime Ukori I, move that we pass a vote of implicit confidence on the administration of Governor Okowa.”

The motion was seconded by the Okobaro of Ughievwen, Matthew Ediri Egbi, Owahwa II, and was endorsed by the more than 18 traditional rulers in Urhobo land who attended the meeting.

The Orodje of Okpe in a brief speech, described Governor Okowa as a performer, noting that the deliberation at the meeting was good.

In his response, Governor Okowa expressed satisfaction that the traditional rulers appreciated what his administration was doing to transform Delta State.

“I came to brief the traditional rulers about what we have been doing as a government and to thank them for keeping their kingdoms peaceful,” he said.

Responding, Okowa, who was accompanied by the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, thanked them for their consistent support.

“There is no event that we have had without the presence of the traditional rulers. They have encouraged my administration in so many ways. Through their efforts, Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes did not escalate and the peaceful environment has provided the opportunity for us to work in the state,” he said.