Okpe leaders task President Buhari on Sapele Seaport, true federalism, others

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PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA
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· Urge Okowa to revisit Sapele Polytechnic issue

· Sad over inadequate number of public Secondary Schools

· Condemn purported imposition of illegal Interim leadership

· Pledge support to Orodje

Okpe leaders at the weekend urged President Muhammadu Buhari to open up different areas in the Southern parts of the country which have good seaports to decongest Lagos and ease the gridlock in the Nation’s commercial capital.

‘’On the economy, now is the time to look at opening up different areas in the Southern parts of the Country which have good seaports to decongest Lagos and ease the gridlock in the Nation’s commercial capital. One Seaport that will help achieve this is the Sapele Natural Harbour which from Colonial times is renowned for its advantages of being one of the few fresh water ports in Africa. The reopening of the Sapele Seaport as well as others in the South South Region will be a definite solution to the ports crisis in the Country’’.

They also called on Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, to revisit the suspension of the establishment of the only higher Institution in Okpeland which is the proposed Sapele Polytechnic, at Elume.

The polytechnic construction began during the Administration of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan administration but was suspended by the current Administration.

At a meeting in Lagos, the leaders called on the Government of Delta State to look into the issue of inadequate number of public Secondary Schools in Sapele and Okpe Local Government Areas.

‘’The large town of Orerokpe with its population has only one Government Secondary School. The entire stretch of communities from Okurighwre, Amuokpe, Igbeku (Old Sapele/Warri Road) up to Ibadan Elume in Sapele Local Government Area has only Okpe Grammar School with the only other Secondary School near this area, Eziafa Grammar School being far into Eku/Abraka Road. Parents who are unable to afford private Schools for their Wards therefore find it difficult to afford the huge transport costs. We therefore call for the immediate establishment of more Government Secondary Schools in Okpe kingdom’’.

In a State of the Okpe Union address by Mr. Patrick Akpotor, Outgoing President General, Okpe Union, the leaders enjoined the chairmen of Sapele and Okpe Local Government Areas to work with communities to enhance the effectiveness of the Vigilante neighbourhood security arrangements in order to improve the security of Okpeland.

The leaders recalled how Okpe Union started in Lagos.

‘’Assembling here by the Okpe people began under a mango tree for Okpe dance practices at the early times of British governance of Nigeria until the Okpe people organised themselves into a formal Union of the Okpe people. They were able to acquire the land of the epic mango tree by purchase decades later and on the land the founding fathers of the Okpe Union planned the future progress of the Okpe Nation including the resuscitation of the Okpe Monarchy of the Orodje throne we are assembled here today’’.

They urged members and branches to be steadfast.

‘’On the 14th of November, 2020, in very unprecedented circumstances, the General Assembly of the Union met here and took some important decisions. The Assembly on that date gave specific mandate to the Executives (now outgoing National Leadership) to ensure that the independence of the Okpe Union is protected from influences outside the provision of the Constitution which has been the case for ninety one (91) years of its existence as a Union and voice for the Okpe Union. We report to you that we have done exactly that even in the face of daunting challenging circumstances. The Okpe Union having been a registered democratic Organization with its own inviolable Constitution since the 13th of December, 1934 on which date the Union was incorporated with Registration Number 69, has never allowed Institutions or individuals who are not empowered its Constitution to dictate to it or interfere in its governance. We remind all Okpe people and the World that Okpe Union is a member’ ONLY Organization. To participate in the Union, an Okpe person will have to register in a Branch and pay all the prescribed fee. Therefore, the purported imposition of an illegal Interim Leadership which parades itself on the pages of newspapers and about and on an extortion of unsuspecting Members of the public must be condemned by all patriotic Okpe persons and lovers of democracy and good governance. To permit that in our time will amount to the betrayal of the legacy handed over to us by the founding fathers of the Okpe Union’’.

The leaders called for unity, solidarity and love amongst members and branches all over the Country and the World.

‘’Members must close ranks and join hands to defend the Independence of the Union from forces of destabilization whose sole objective is to reap political benefits. That is not the purpose for which our founding fathers established the Union’’.

Specifically, they called on Okpe elite especially those who have the interest of the development of the Okpe Nation at heart to work closely with His Royal Majesty, Orhue I, the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom as the Okpe Union has done for ages to continually offer their expert advice so that the quality of human resources available to him will be enhanced.

‘’This will promote unity and inclusiveness in the decision making of the Udogun Okpe Traditional Council. To achieve this, honest and dedicated Ekakuro have to be regular at the Udogun Okpe meetings’’.

They urged Okpe people to avoid artificial divisions and Fifth Columnists.

‘’Nigeria is facing precarious times. This is a time that the Okpe ethnic nationality must close ranks and plan on how to achieve greater cohesion for the survival of our people. We must avoid artificial divisions and Fifth Columnists, whose Main Agenda is to break our ranks and set Okpe Nation backward.

The leaders called on all levels of government to provide for and support well-coordinated community or neighbourhood vigilante.

‘’The Nigerian State is undergoing serious security and economic challenges. The Nation cannot afford to slide into chaos. The Okpe Union therefore calls on all levels of government to provide for and support well-coordinated Community or neighbourhood vigilante. Alternatively, put in place localised security structures. By so doing, the incidences of kidnapping, robbery and ritual killings pervading different parts of the Country will be minimized’’.

The leaders renewed their calls for true federalism in Nigeria to reduce the responsibilities of the Federal Government for the States to be viable for the overall social and economic development of the Country.

They paid tribute to the fallen Hero from Jos.

‘’Let us pause for a minute, and pay tribute to one of us, the Chairman of Jos Branch of the Okpe Union, who transited to join our fallen heroes. Mr. Johnson Usieta the Chairman of Jos Branch, danced into eternity in April, 2021’’

‘’Let us remain steadfast to the dreams of the founding fathers of Union for a Representative, vibrant and independent Okpe Union’’.

Okpe Union Elects New National Executive Members

Professor Igho Natufe, a Nigerian-born Sovietologist and a specialist in International Relations and Soviet/ Russian Foreign Policy, has been elected President General of Okpe Union.

The alumnus of the People’s Friendship University, former university professor of Political Science (University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana, 1978-1980, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria, 1980-1989 and senior advisor to the Government of Canada (1970-1978, 1989-2011) who ran unopposed, emerged as the President General Saturday evening in Lagos.

The election which took place at Okpe Union Headquarters, Obalende saw the emergence of Engineer Francis Redemi as 1st Deputy President General, Mr. Omamurhomu Ayaruja as 2nd Deputy President General, Dr. Lucky Akpere as 3rd Deputy President General and Mr. Bernard Adibor as 4th Deputy President General.

The members elected Akpederin Kingsley as

General Secretary, Madam Patience Ikokoyo as Asst. General Secretary, Mr. Freeborn Adibor (National Organizing Secretary) Comrade Faith Ukpevweru (Asst. Nat. Organising Officer) Mrs. Mercy Ovwile (National Treasurer) Arch. Patrick Redemi (National Financial Secretary)

Other officers elected at the General Assembly were Mrs. Atarhe Abuh (National Publicity Secretary) Erakpotobor Emmanuel (National Legal Adviser) Madam Dinna Erhiurhoro (Nat. Women Coordinator) Comrade Mary Pender (National Youths Coordinator) Mrs. Mary Arejomo Ogunnde (National Director of Welfare) Mr. Roland Ogbatemuru (National Provost) and Mr. Pius Unuayefe (National Traditional Orator)

INTERNAL COHESION AND DEVELOPMENT IN OKPE NATION

AN INAUGURAL ADDRESS

BY

PROF. O. IGHO NATUFE

PRESIDENT GENERAL, OKPE UNION, AT THE

OKPE UNION HOUSE, MOSHALASHI STREET, OBALENDE, LAGOS.

MAY 16, 2021

INTRODUCTION

Good afternoon, Compatriots and Guests.

Yesterday a new National Executive Council (NEC) was elected to guide the affairs of the Okpe Union for the next four years. I congratulate ALL the contestants, Elders, delegates and observers that contributed to the success of the Annual General Assembly (AGA) and National Elections. I commend and congratulate the Immediate Past President, Mr. Patrick Akpotor and members of the previous NEC for their stellar leadership in conducting the affairs of Okpe Union during their tenure. I also congratulate Mr. Igho Akeragha, Chair of the Electoral Committee and his committee members for their invaluable services to the Okpe Union. Be assured that everyone of you shall have a role to play in Okpe Union as we move forward.

Your unanimous vote for me to assume the portfolio as the President General of our great Union is an honour and privilege which I humbly accept. With the calibre we elected yesterday as members of NEC, I can assure you that a new dawn has arrived that is anchored on the provision of selfless leadership for the growth and development of our beloved Okpe Nation and Okpe Kingdom. The gender balance in the NEC demonstrates Okpe Union’s adherence to the concept of equity which we are going to champion in Okpeland.

Our immediate and foremost priority is to focus on Okpe reconciliation, unity and progress as we grapple with the challenges of youth and women empowerment in Okpeland. My dear Compatriots, I state very clearly and categorically that there is no division in our 91-year-old Union as, in fulfilment of our Mandate, we have reviewed our Constitution to meet the needs and aspirations for the Okpe Nation and Okpe Kingdom in the 21st Century. We in NEC shall count on all Okpe nationals at home and in the Diaspora to contribute their advice and knowledge to this historic imperative vis-à-vis the delivery of our 4-Year Agenda.

Today, Okpe in Nigeria and worldwide celebrate the 91st Anniversary of the founding of the Okpe Union, the oldest ethnic organization in Delta State. We salute the founders for their foresight in establishing the Okpe Union as an umbrella organization of Okpe nationals in Nigeria and in the Diaspora. Founded in Lagos on May 16, 1930, the Okpe Union was technically a “near Diaspora” organization. By “near Diaspora” I am referring to Okpe residents in non Okpeland in Nigeria. It was well established in several Nigerian cities, including (in alphabetical order) Abeokuta, Abuja, Ibadan, Ilesha, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, etc. and in the “far Diaspora”, the United Kingdom and North America decades before a branch was stablished at home in Okpe Kingdom, in Sapele Local Government Area.

We are here because they were there. As we proudly celebrate our Founder’s Day and marvel at the successes and achievements of the Okpe Union in yesteryears, we must redefine our strategic approach to enable us grapple with contemporary challenges that confront us in Delta State and in Nigeria. I hereby provide a sketch of our agenda for the next four years. The task begins from building blocks for unity and development in Okpeland.

BUILDING BLOCKS FOR UNITY AND DEVELOPMENT

We recognize the imperative of unity within a society for it to move forward meaningfully by providing a conducive environment for its citizens to progress and develop. Our immediate action is to strive to reconcile contending views on this front in the Okpe Nation. This will be revealed after due consultation with all stakeholders in Okpeland. Our focus shall be on the following, inter alia:

· Strive to align Okpe Union with the aspirations and consciousness of the Okpe man and woman, especially in the territory of the Okpe Kingdom.

· Liaise with Local Government Councils in Okpe Nation, District and community leaders on key issues affecting Okpe.

· Liaise with youth and women organizations in crafting developmental strategies for the Okpe Nation.

· Liaise with appropriate authorities to recognize Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality in DESOPADEC.

· Enhance an appreciation of Okpe Identity by agitating for the teaching of Okpe Language, Okpe History and Culture in all educational institutions in Okpeland.

· Liaise with all religious places of worship in Okpe land for the use of Okpe Language in their sermons.

· Revive the Institute for Okpe Studies that was established by the OKPE VOICE INTERNATONAL in 2008.

· Host an International Conference on Okpe Society in collaboration with the Institute for Okpe Studies in 2022.

· Liaise with appropriate authorities for the naming and recognition of the Airport at Osubi as OSUBI AIRPORT.

· Notwithstanding being the most populous ethnic nationality in Delta State, we lack behind several ethnic groups in educational attainment.

· In recognition of the value of education in the development of a society, we are launching a ONE BILLION NAIRA OKPE SCHOLARSHIP TRUST FUND for the education of Okpe nationals in post secondary institutions.

· We shall establish a data base of Okpe nationals (teachers and students) in all post-secondary educational institutions in Nigeria and in the Diaspora.

· Facilitate the establishment of a post-secondary educational institution in Okpe Nation.

· To facilitate growth and development in Okpeland, we shall construct strategic alliances with domestic stakeholders and foreign partners in attracting and retaining investments in Okpeland. This will be achieved via consultation and collaboration with the two Local Government Councils (Okpe and Sapele LGCs) and chambers of commerce and industry in Okpe Nation.

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

Nigeria is a federation of ethnic nationalities. Okpe is one of the more than 350 ethnic nationalities that constitute this federation. Like all the other components of the Nigerian federation, there are opportunities and challenges that we must grapple with to move Okpe forward and firmly establish Okpe Union as a powerful voice for the Okpe Nation in the various communities of ethnic nationalities in Delta State and in Nigeria, including the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination.

Okpe Union shall be an active participant in these organizations by promoting and defending Okpe interests as a distinct ethnic nationality. These interests shall be pursued at all fora, domestic and international, with inputs from all stakeholders in Okpeland and Okpe in the Diaspora. Towards this end, we shall establish and maintain strategic relationships with all ethnic organizations in Delta State and in Nigeria on the principles of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect of the rights of each ethnic nationality to define and determine its own socio-economic and political development.

Our contribution to Nigerian development shall be influenced by the tenets of federalism. As a component of the Nigerian federation of ethnic nationalities, we endorse the call for restructuring the Nigerian federal system in accordance with the notion of federalism. In due course, after consulting with stakeholders in Okpe Nation and Okpe in the Diaspora, we shall announce the Okpe positions on key elements of the debate on restructuring.

Thank you all for your attention.

God bless Okpe Kingdom.

God bless the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom.

God bless Okpe Union.

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