Urhobo, the fifth largest ethnic group in the country, is set to demand one trillion naira as reparation from the Federal Government and International Oil Companies (IOCs) for years of ‘resource plunder and environmental degradation’.
President-General of Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), Olorogun Moses Taiga, made the disclosure while speaking on activities slated to mark the 90th anniversary of the creation of the union, established on November 3, 1931.
He lamented that Urhobo nation had contributed to the development of Nigeria, through oil production over the years but lacked anything to show in terms of infrastructure, accomodations in Nigeria project.
“Having contributed so much to the making of Nigeria, the Urhobo people have been subjected to years of exploitation, oppression, environmental degradation, poverty, insecurity, marginalisation, and other negative manifestations of injustice that are not only reprehensible but provocative.
“An Urhobo agenda must of necessity focus on our endangered environment which has been laid waste by years of crude oil exploitation and exploration. To begin with, the Urhobo people will be demanding reparation of one trillion naira from the Federal Government of Nigeria and the oil multinationals for the many years of resource plunder and environmental degradation,” he said.
The UPU leader noted that despite very tangible and laudable contributions to the making of Nigeria, the Urhobo have not received a fair deal, from past and present Nigerian governments inspite of the ethnic group being among the geese that lay the golden eggs.
Olorogun Taiga demanded an environmental remediation programme for communities that were negatively impacted by oil exploitation listing Erhoike, Erhobaro-Orogun, Imodje-Orogun, Afiesere, Evwreni, Erhuemukohwarien and many others.
Describing UPU as Nigeria’s oldest socio-cultural organisation having being established on November 3, 1931, he recalled that the union was left intact in 1966 when the Federal Government proscribed all political and cultural organisations in recognition of it’s unsoiled non-partisan character.
Olorogun Taiga, while highlighting achievements of UPU so far, also recalled the role played by the ethnic group in ensuring the unity and stability of the nation adding “Urhobo fought gallantly in the civil war of 1967-1970.
“Thereafter, the Urhobo played stabilizing roles in post civil war Nigeria. From the June 12 crisis to the creek wars of militancy in the Niger Delta, the National Political Reforms Conference of 2005, the National Conference of 2014, the Urhobo have always been counted in support of one Nigeria, a nation that is strong, united, prosperous, and abiding by the creed of fairness and justice to all,” he said.
Despite the support, the UPU leader lamented that Urhobo nation has been neglected by past and present governments and demanded for equal attention, just like being given to other major ethnic groups, for the Urhobo.
Olorogun Taiga called on all Urhobo people, home and in disapora, to be part of the 90th anniversary of the UPU slated for November 29th to December 5th, this year.
“We have also sent invitations to other ethnic nationalities as well as other people of goodwill from far and wide to join us as we celebrate 90 years of UPU’s existence,” he added.