By Omafume Amurun
Several years ago, during an interactive media session with a former Delta State governor, apparently in frustration he described the Uvwie as a cursed people due to the perennial communal crises, particularly in Ekpan, and his failed attempts to ensure sustainable peace in the area.
Unfortunately for the Governor, I was at the media briefing and was full of rage due to his contemptuous remark against the Uvwie people, and there was an exchange of words with the governor.
I told him that it was wrong for him to describe the very good people of Uvwie as cursed simply because a few miscreants who are also known to be the governor’s supporters/thugs, and who enjoy a lot of patronage from him by way of appointments and contracts are fomenting communal unrest. I pointed out to him that his government inadvertently, for political expediency, had made those same people role models, therefore, the government was reaping what they had sown. A friend of mine in the DSS once told me that often the government ignores security reports about some of their political supporters when making appointments.
The former government claimed that there were no educated people and no individuals of character in Uvwie, so they had to make do with what was presented to them. I told him that he was being economical with the truth and that the same people that he despised, he also used to do his dirty political biddings. He did not like the way the discussion was going, particularly in the presence of other journalists, so he cleverly apologized by saying that I was misinterpreting his statement and that they are also good people in Uvwie. He thereby mentioned Dr. Ejifoma whom he described as his good friend and appealed for men of character to take over leadership positions in Uvwie.
Recent events have also proven how state actors promote communal unrest in Delta State and in Ekpan in particular, but for the timely intervention of the governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa who believes that there must be less political intervention in communal issues and that the traditional institutions must be supported to ensure peace, prosperity and progress in their communities.
Until recently, what political/communal actors did when there was any communal issue that could easily be handled by the established traditional institutions, was to rush to their friends in government, undermining the established traditional institutions that could easily handle such issues. Sometimes millions of naira are paid to these agents that often claim to have the governor’s ears, and does their biddings.
This state of affairs calls for another look at the 1999 constitution which seems to diminish the position of traditional rulers, and at the same time expect them to perform magic by ensuring sustainable peace and progress in their domains.
A new dawn is awakening in Uvwie, particularly in Ekpan. HRM Emmanuel E. Sideso, Abe 1, JP. OON, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, a disciplinarian and a monarch of the highest integrity has consistently pointed out the way to those who are prepared for the new era. The shameful past of “AK47 politics” and “might is right” is over and there is now a government who believes in due process, as well as peace and prosperity for all, in line with his Smart Agenda policy
Some skeptics have dismissed the recent development in the community by claiming that the governor has also promoted people of questionable character as role models by giving them political appointments. The recent appointment of Community Liaison Officers(CLOs)/Community Relations Committee(CRC) members have also thrown up some challenges with accusations against some of the Inuevworo of promoting family agenda as was typical in the past. They forget the admonition of our Lord Jesus Christ: “He who has no sin, let him cast the first stone.”
We must not forget that changes are often gradual, and the vision and recent maneuvers by HRM Emmanuel E. Sideso JP. OON, Abe 1, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, is capable of changing a lot of calculations in future and ensuring sustainable peace and stability. From now onward, no one will be allowed to hold community offices indefinitely, or promote and impose their family and friends narrow agendas while the interest of the community is held in contempt and relegated to the background. It is ludicrous that some of these political actors want to dictate to elders who are old enough to be their grandfathers, by politicizing communal issues and bringing people who are known to have their own family and community issues to interfere in Uvwie which is considered in some government quarters as their “oil well”
The era when some low level individuals consider community activism as a do or die affair is fast coming to an end. It is disrespectful and contemptuous of young men to have the mindset that they can’t prosper except they are youth leaders or thugs, and must be violent to be “the Lords” in communal and political affairs.
What is happening now in Ekpan and Uvwie in general should be seen as work in progress. People who have refused to reform and still assume that it is business as usual will be left behind. In the same vein those who think that the CLO/CRC positions are their family heritage because they cannot think outside the box will also be left behind.
The move by HRM Emmanuel E. Sideso with the support of the state government to fix the tenure of CLOs/CRCs for not more than three years will no doubt provide a fair playground for all families, and will soon change the dynamics in the community. The era of “warlords” is over. Families that fail to key into the massive education scholarship policy initiated by the Uvwie monarch and instead concentrate on causing mayhem for community positions would be left behind. Indeed, as things stand, no condition is permanent any longer.
Also the new thinking in the community is that people who live in far away communities but consider Ekpan as their gold mine and “warfront” will not be allowed to hold youth or CLO positions in future is a good one. The new era will not allow them to make money from Ekpan Community and invest or build their homes in distance communities, because as “trouble agents” they hide their families in neighboring communities while instigate mayhem in Uvwie.
HRM Emmanuel Sideso, with the support of Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa has now declared a state of emergency in the education sector in Uvwie. Massive Scholarship awards are being given to indigent Uvwie pupils who are prepared to further their education to any level. The long time plan is to reduce miscreants in Uvwie, so there will be no reason for the youths to consider thuggery as a noble profession.
Also, In future there will be stipulated minimum qualifications to assume leadership positions, and integrity of aspirants will be topmost consideration. Luckily, all the current Inuevworo in Ekpan are University graduates. This will promote healthy competition and up the level of discourse and interaction in the community.
Community leaders who have refused to follow the tide being driven by HRM. Emmanuel Sideso by presenting themselves as disciplined, well-behaved role models are being sanctioned. The era of Chiefs supporting thugs and engaging in street fights and other misdemeanors that have made some people to consider the institution as contemptuous is over, as the Monarch has promised that severe sanctions await such people, and has set a very high standard which should be emulated by other monarchs in Urhoboland when awarding chieftaincy titles.
His actions so far have shown that he considers integrity before financial gains. Even if his ascension may not be to the liking of some, he has by actions shown that he was divinely appointed, a disciplinarian, humble and a man of highest integrity who has distinguished himself as a public servant, therefore cannot be intimidated with filthy lucre.
Even the skeptics will agree that it will be difficult in future to surpass HRM Emmanuel Sideso’s current and future achievements which several people will definitely write books about so that those who want to succeed him must work to surpass these achievements.
Many of those close to HRM Emmanuel Sideso have recognized the fact that he is a far seeing and comprehensive personality. His carrot and stick approach in handling issues is worth emulating. He is no doubt fulfilling the mandate of our Lord Jesus Christ to leaders at this “end times” to be wise as serpent and humble as doves.
The Esiriarha of Uvwie Kingdom, Chief George Amurun, JP, an octogenarian and oldest Chief in both Uvwie and Okere-Urhobo Kingdoms, who has known the Uvwie Monarch for long time has often at any given opportunity stressed how fortunate Uvwie is to have him as their traditional ruler. He candidly projects the Monarch as highly disciplined, humble, a man of high integrity and character that you could never hear any unbecoming behavior associated him, unlike some monarchs that have by their shortcomings occasioned a low public esteem for the traditional institution.
Meanwhile, it will no longer be business as usual for anybody who wants to occupy leadership positions in Uvwie. It is no longer the old era of “kill and divide” which has been inimical to peace and progress, but a new era of improvisation and hard work gear towards engendering peace and prosperity to the community. The new generation of youths will not condone anything less. Technology is changing the dynamics of how things will be done in future, as the warrior instincts of Uvwie youths is bound to be directed towards intellectual activism. There will be no hiding place for trouble makers and their collaborators. You can ask Enawore Erumura David or Harry Odafe Esheti! They will soon “explode”
Last-line: On the occasion of the 75th birthday anniversary Nene R’Uvwie (wife of the Uvwie Monarch), I on behalf of Ovwaro-Eruowho, Iyaye Ruling Houses and the Agbaisi family, wish to send our heartfelt congratulations to HRM Emmanuel E. Sideso, Abe 1, JP. OON and the entire Royal Family.
Chief Omafume Amurun, is the Uvwie Lafire of Uvwie Kingdom.