Ughelli is a haven for investors—Iwhewhe
Chief Kenneth Iwhewhe is the President General of Ughelli Descendant Union. He spoke to Jon Egie few days before the celebration of the 25th coronation of the Ovie of Ughelli. Enjoy the excerpts
Please introduce yourself to us
Iam Olorogun Kenneth Iwhewhe, an Engineer by training, a Christian, a married man, the PG of Ughelli kingdom in this dispensation.
By your status give us a testimony of the growth of Ughelli for the past 25 years.
25 years is a land mark and going by antecedents of current issues Ughelli has developed tremendously within this space of time and if you look at it, a lot of government input is seen, the East-West Road passes through Ughelli and apart from that the Ughelli Township Road running from Otovwodo to Ekiugbo is another mark of development and to all intent and purposes, Ughelli is a fast developing metropolis and has neighbouring clans around ; Agbarha is our next door neighbor and is easily accessed, Agbon, Ughelli South are all easily accessed so Ughelli is occupying a very unique nucleus of sensibility and development and that is why you find the banking industry is so much here, Ughelli is growing in leaps and bounds.
Growing in leaps and bounds, is the economy of the town also in congruence with the growth?
Economically Ughelli is also blessed, within the Ughelli area you have the Transcorp, a major GENCO for Nigeria, you have Betta Glass, Nigerian Gas, Ughelli is within the area of OML 30 and the operators are still here with us so there is a lot of impact. But again, technologically you cannot grow without power, we have a GENCO besides us and we are not feeling the impact because everything from the GENCO is fed into the national grid and BEDC that is supposed to be supplying us power is Benin based and to all intent and purposes, we in Ughelli are suffering from the lack of power supply. We generate but we don’t see it to use, that is a negative impact on the growth that is why you see that most industries here depend on private power supply.
As a developing metropolis is Ughelli a comfortable place for investment in terms of the challenges of crime and criminality?
When you say an area is developing, development is often tied with all the facets, you cannot say an area is developing without development in itself. Development is not a microcosm of itself, it has its partnership and crime is part and parcel of development and that is why you find that when an area is developing criminality also goes. But to God be the glory, Ughelli developed the Bakasi group as a role model which the government of today in Delta State has copied and if you look at all the communities and clans, they have their own local vigilante. It started in Ughelli and we are partnering seriously with the police to ensure that criminality is at the lowest ebb. For now there is development and there is criminality but the criminality is not worrisome, don’t forget the world is a small village now, whatever you do be it in London, New York, South Africa at the snap of the finger everybody knows about it. So relatively in terms of crime, Ughelli is a very safe haven, if Ughelli is not safe you wouldn’t see the plethora of banks all over the place, I cannot even count the number of banks in Ughelli now. The presence of the banks indicate that there is strong economic base in Ughelli, banks cannot go to where there is no money, the prevailing preponderance of banks in Ughelli is a testimony of the fact that yes, Ughelli is a developing economy.
Do you see the increase in number of churches as also contributing to the economic growth of the town?
Everybody wants the influence of God over him and the population of Ughelli is what it is today because we have gone beyond the era of juju service, there is a lot of evangelization; it is not enough for the Catholic and the Anglican and the Baptist, that is the orthodox group, to lay claim the Pentecostal group are very much prevalent and with the population exploding the churches are also there to take care of the people, the people want God’s presence in their lives and that is why the churches are there and with the churches coming in it is helping to boost the economy and bring the people of Ughelii nearer to God.
Can you give us a graphic painting of what Ughelli was 25 years ago so that those who were not in the town at that time could get a clear picture of what the town was and appreciate the level of development?
25 years ago is a small time in space but developmentally it is more that 100 years back and it is because of the effect of development that you are seeing passing through Ughelli and we give God the glory for maiking Ughelli what she is, she is the focus, nucleus within the axis which she is situated. Almost everybody within Ughelli come from neighbouring communities; Agbarha, Isoko, everybody is in Ughelli because of the enabling environment the king has been able to create for everybody that is in Ughelli. Everybody now claims that he is an Ughelli man because we do not discriminate and our not discriminating attribute that is making Ughelli to grow and don’t forget, Ughelli is monarchial and because of our monarchial status there is a strong hegemony between the king and the people so there is no acrimony, there is smooth transition and the king has an over-all sway over everybody and that is where the hierarchy of the kingdom gets its power from. So to all intent and purposes, Ughelli has been bless and we do hope that the blessing of God will continue to come more and more unto us.
As President General what are the prospects and challenges of the kingdom?
As the PGof the kingdom it s quite challenging and we have to reach out to our brothers and sisters because I always say together we do it better. Ughelli politically is the hub of Delta Central senatorial district and because of that we tend to have our sons and daughters in different political parties and often advise them that after the battle is fought and won, the hurly-burly is done we should all come back home and not forget that after the political fight, we are all sons and daughters of the same father, so let us come home to synergize and strategize for a better tomorrow.
How about your vision of the kingdom?
Well if we can synergize and strategize it is El Dorado
Give a message to investors and non-indigenes living in Ughelli.
I will want to use this opportunity to call on other ethnic nationalities in Ughelli kingdom that you are in a safe environment, we are happy that you are staying and working in Ughelli, we will never discriminate against you, we will have you as our brother and you should take us as your next of kin so that whatever you want to do come to us, have an open mind, put your cards on the table, if you have any challenges say it to us and we will put our heads together and ensure that uour business and stay in Ughelli is successful.
Are there any available resources that investors can take advantage of here in Ughelli?
Thank you very much.