By Jon Egie

 

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Taiga making his acceptance speech

Taiga making his acceptance speech

“I agree to serve the Urhobo nation. I express my appreciation to the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the UPU, body of Presidents General, the Eghweya (woman folk) Ighele (youths),  Ivie (traditional rulers), all men and women of Urhobo. I thank those who offered to serve but did not win in this election and I incorporate all into my executive. I declare the 2017 as the year of unity for Urhobo nation.

“I pledge to build bridges across our neighbouring ethnic nations and therefore call on all Urhobo who went astray to reconsider and come back to the fold. On behalf of my executive I pledge commitment to serve and be loyal to the Urhobo nation”.

These were the words of Olorogun Moses Taiga while delivering his acceptance speech shortly after he was sworn in as President General of the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, Monday (Jan. 2)night at theUPU secretariat, Uvwiamuge- Agbarho.

 

Taiga led exco being sworn into office by Justice Dugbo

Taiga led exco being sworn into office by Justice Dugbo

Olorogun Moses Taiga emerged as PG of UPU unchallenged during an election mandated by an emergency Congress of the UPU convened by the Board of Trustees of the union on Jan. 2 at the UPU secretariat in Uvwiamuge-Agbarho.

Delegates from all kingdoms in Urhobo land as well as representatives of the union in Lagos who stood for those in the diaspora were in attendance just as 13 monarchs including the Ovie of Oghara witnessed the occasion.

The entire premise of the secretariat was orderly as security personnel from the police, army and secret service were on hand to contain any malfeasance and disorderly behavior.

Accreditation of the delegates started around 10 am and ran through 1pm when the Secretary of the BOT, Chief Victor Otomiewo presented his welcome address.

BOT Communication

 

Taiga stating his manifesto

Taiga stating his manifesto

“It is my pleasure to welcome all traditional rulers, elders, government representatives and all delegates to this emergency/special national congress of the Urhobo Progress Union convened by the Board of Trustees of the UPU” he stated.

“The convening of this emergency national congress became expedient as a result of the crisis that has engulfed our great Union since the passing away of Maj. Gen. Patrick Aziza.

“Based on the express provisions of theConstitution of the UPU, an emergency congress is supposed to be convened in times of crises by the Board of Trustees of the Union. It is crystal clear to all that the UPU is in great crisis, unrest and chaos that has been foisted upon the Union as a result of the in-fighting, allegations and counter allegations of fraud, abuse of office, gross misconduct as well as flagrant and total disregard of the express provisions of the Constitution of the UPU and other laid down laws perpetuated by members of the immediate past National Executive led by Chief Joe Omene whose tenure expired on 2nd December 2016.

 

Theo Owhorode of Olomu praying for success of the business of the day

Theo Owhorode of Olomu praying for success of the business of the day

“The crisis rocking the UPU got to a head on 2nd December 2016, when Chief Joe Omene in spite of two pending suits wherein he and his executives were sued, went ahead to commit a scriledge that has never been heard of in the over 85 years of existence of the UPU. He conducted a purported National Election to fill the vacant executive positions of the UPU in his private residence. He thereafter proclaimed himself as the President-General and also presented himself a purported certificate of return. The so-called congress convoked by Chief Joe Omene excluded all traditional rulers, a substantial percentage of elders/President-General of Urhobo land, the women folk also known as Egwheyare.

 

Members of the BOT

Members of the BOT

“Prior to the acts of impudence referred to above, Chief Joe Omene led executives had earlier taken the entire Urhobo nation represented by notable traditional rulers to court in an attempt to ridicule and desecrate the traditional institution he swore to protect and preserve. On several occasions, Chief Joe Omene had taken to the social media, newspaper publications to ridicule well respected traditional rulers as well as the Urhobo culture in his attempt to impose himself on the Urhobo nation.

“It Is important to stress that since the assumption of office of the Chief Joe Omene led executive, the Annual National Congress of the UPU has been put in abeyance and same has not been held for almost five years. Chief Joe Omene also failed to carry out essential functions of his office as demanded by the Constitution but instead turned the Union into a partisan, social and beggarly Union.

 

Electoral committee led by Maj Gen Obada

Electoral committee led by Maj Gen Obada

“By the Constitution of UPU and all other laws and guidelines governing the affairs of our revered union, there is vacancy in all the positions provided for in Article 7, Rule 1 of the Constitution of the UPU. As it is today, the UPU has no structure at the national level apart from the Board of Trustees. The BOT which hitherto had nine members now has just three members left hence the need to call this National Congress to take a firm, legal and valid decision (1) filling the vacant positions in the National Executive Council (2) filling of the vacancy in the Board of Trustees and (3) any other business urgent and imperative for the smooth running of the Urhobo Progress Union.”

Reaction

Responding to the address,  Olorogun Austin Uduwhere, PG of Uvwie kingdom moved a motion to declare the business of the UPU that held on Dec.2 2016 null and void and of no effect. Chief Mrs Onavuaye Owhojeheri  on behalf of the Urhobo women folk said the Egwheya noticed the Dec.2 2016 election purported conducted by Chief Joe Omene on Facebook and hence seconded the motion for the nullification of the said business of the UPU held on Dec. 2, 2016.

 

Cross section on traditional rulers and delegates

Cross section on traditional rulers and delegates

Chief Simeon Owhofa who is the President of Urhobo Social Club, Lagos and representative of the UPU in diaspora approved of the content of the BOT address and moved a motion that for the interest of the Urhobo nation to move forward, the convened National Congress should proceed to conduct an election to fill the vacant offices of the UPU at the national level. Chief Kenneth Iwhewhe (PG of Ughelli kingdom), Chief Emmanuel Okumagba 9Otota of Okere-Urhobo kingdom), Chief Mrs Owhojeheri on behalf of Egwheya, Prince Edesiri Aziza of Adgrassa on behalf of the youth (Ighele)  and Chief Godwin Ogbetuo on behalf of elders among others roundly seconded and supported the motion.

Consequently an electoral committee led by Maj Gen John Obada (rtd) was constituted and mandated to conducted election to fill the national offices of the UPU.

Election

 

Cross section of delegates

Cross section of delegates

Olorogun Moses Taiga who was the only candidate for the office of the PG of the UPU was called to present his manifesto and on the floor of the UPU secretariat which was filled to capacity by delegates, the media and security personnel he stated that if given the mandate to serve, he would (1)make effort to revive the waning respect for traditional rulers of Urhobo land (2)rehabilitate and complete the construction of the Urhobo Cultural Centre and upgrade it to a resort centre (3) upgrade the Urhobo College in Effurun (4) establish an Urhobo national university to be known as Mukoro Mowoe University and to be sited at Evwreni (5) revive the technical schools in Urhobo land and (6) open micro finance bank for Urhobo women to boost their economic activities.

 

Another cross section of delegates

Another cross section of delegates

Candidates for other offices also made their manifesto known to the delegates following which voting commenced and at the end of the poll, Maj Gen John Obada who also functioned as the Returning Officer announced Olorogun Moses Taiga as President General elected of the UPU.

Others elected members of the executive were: Abel Oshevire (PRO), Osiobe Okotie (1ST Dep. PG), Tony Onoharigho (2nd Dep. PG), Peter Obodo (Auditor), William Abigboroghe (Fin Sec), Dickson Oyovwi (Asst Sec), Abel Opuidi (Treasurer), Ese Dam (National Secretary) and Isaac Itebu (Legal Adviser).

They were immediately sworn into office by retired Justice D.K Dugbo

Earlier, the congress observed a minute silence in honour of illustrious sons of Urhoboland: Olorogun Michael Ibru, Olorogun Felix Ibru and Justice Omo Agege who passed on in 2016.

The congress was also attended by Dr PC Obakponovwe, Chief Eghele, Chief Ogbavwedia, Prof Eke, Brig Gen Unuode, Prof SWE Ibodje, Hon Faith Majemite, Chief Johnson Barovwe among others.