Deputy President of the Senate Ovie Omo-Agege has charged Urhobo people to remain steadfast with the All Progressives Congress as the ‘best avenue to realize their collective aspirations’.
Addressing the 2019 annual convention of the Urhobo Progress Union America (UPUA), in Philadelphia, U.S.A., he said that the Urhobo people who make up over 2 million of Nigeria’s population must also embrace education.
Senator Omo-Agege emphasized the significance of its theme: “Accelerating the Socio-Economic Development of Urhoboland through Investments in Education,” stressing that now is the time for all Urhobos to consolidate and move forward while a progressive party is in power.
The Deputy Senate President, who was represented by the member representing Ughelli North/South and Udu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. (Rev.) Francis Ejiroghene Waive, recalled that Urhobos’ alliance with national ruling parties.
He recalled the alliance with the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and now, the APC, has significantly advanced their collective interests and brought political influence as well as national projects to Urhobo land.
“Guided by the urgent need to change the course of the ship of the Urhobo nation and raise the political profile of Urhobo, we knew we had to build new relationships so, we went to work, caucusing with the APC in the Senate and building new alliances and eventually joining the party from the Labour Party.
“Since then, we made tremendous progress and today your brother, my very self, is now the fifth highest political office holder in Nigeria; as Deputy President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the power of Urhobo voice in national politics will be louder, clearer and stronger and so too will be Urhobo influence.
“Whilst I am humbled by my June 11, 2019 historic election to this high office of State, I am very proud and fulfilled that we were able to forge great alliances with which we successfully engineered this great victory at the apex of our complex national politics to put the Urhobo nation in its place of preeminence, pride and duty in national affairs.
“Many thanks to President Muhammadu Buhari who has shown fairness to us; without his support it would have been impossible for me to win the leadership contest.
“Mr. President has also appointed Olorogun Festus Keyamo, SAN, the Minister of State, Niger Delta Ministry and Olorogun Bernard Okumagba, the new Managing Director of the Niger-Delta Development Corporation (NDDC) while many more Urhobo sons and daughters are expected to be appointed in due course.”
Reeling out statistics of the benefits of the political alliance to the Urhobo nation and the South-South as a geo-political zone, Omo-Agege said: “Aladja is now linked to the national rail network after 34 years that the project was abandoned; retirees of Delta Steel Company are now being paid their entitlements after several years of neglect.
“It is my hope that with more strategic thinking, focus and actions, the Urhobo nation will never make the costly mistake of shying away from its rightful place in our nation again but having attained this new level in national politics, how are we going to consolidate on what we have achieved for the good of our people?
“History shows that when we stand together, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome in our determined effort to improve the lives of the people so, at this time, Urhobo must unite and show resolve, if we are to consolidate on the progress we have made.”
Commending the UPUA for remaining an exemplary force for the promotion of Urhobo unity and interests, he emphasized a continuation of their usual deliberations on how to accelerate socio-economic development.
“We have the resources – oil, gas, fertile land, hardworking and talented people to make Urhobo a land of opportunities and center of political power in our state; estimated to be more than two million people, we constitute more than 50% and about 3% of Delta State and our national population respectively and we contribute more than 10% of our country’s oil wealth,” he noted.
Emphasizing that “education in every sense is one of the fundamental factors of development,” the Deputy President of the Senate noted that in spite of being the first petroleum university in Africa and the sixth of its kind in the world, the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Effurun in Delta state is not being properly funded, adding that he would personally ensure a change.
“FUPRE must not die: I will take up this challenge and ensure full implementation of the FUPRE law as soon as possible.
“The law mandates the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Nigerian Content Developmental and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to be part of the funding of the University by remitting 2% of their annual budget to the University but these three funding agencies are yet to agree or make any commitment to fulfill the law,” he stated.
Recalling that the first set of students to ever matriculate at Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan included an Urhobo, Victor Erereko Ovie-Whiskey, Senator Omo-Agege noted that the Urhobo Progressive Union’s pre-independence era educational attainments that included scholarship awards, founding of reputable schools, adding that the current generation of Urhobos should invest in education.
“Education in every sense is one of the fundamental factors of development; no country can achieve sustainable economic development without substantial investment in human capital.
“Education enriches people’s understanding of themselves and world, it improves the quality of their lives and leads to broad social benefits to individuals and society.
“Education raises people’s productivity and creativity and promotes entrepreneurship and technological advancement: in addition, it plays a very crucial role in securing economic and social progress and improving income distribution.
“I must remark here that the giant strides we achieved in education and human capital development was the result of the desire of the UPU to pull Urhobo people from obscurity,” he stated adding that private educational initiatives must comply with the policies and standards of both the Delta State and Federal governments”.