A COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE MAIDEN EDITION OF THE URHOBO ECONOMIC AND INVESTMENT SUMMIT (UEIS) HELD AT WELLINGTON HOTEL, EFFURUN, OCTOBER 18, 2018.
As part of efforts to improve on the socio-economic condition of the Urhobo people, a group of young Urhobo professionals, led by Comr. Kingsley Ubiebi, hosted an economic ad investment summit themed: ‘Galvanizing Investment to Meet Opportunities in the Urhobo Nation’. The summit was aimed at spurring initiatives for the acquisition of professional and entrepreneurship skills that would impact positively on the economic status and living condition of the Urhobo people, the major ethnic group in Delta State.
The event, which was chaired by Professor Sam Oyovbaire, had Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as its Special Guest of Honour, represented by Mr. David Edevbie, Honourable Commissioner for Finance; and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as Guest of Honour, represented by Mr Chuks Erhire. The summit was well attended by prominent Urhobo sons and daughters, from all spheres of human endeavours, including Academics, Technocrats, Traditional rulers, Politicians, Professionals, Industrialists, Market women, Tourist, Religious leaders, Bankers, Agricultural Researchers, Pensioners and Student-leaders. Some of the dignitaries at the event are, Professor G. G. Darah, Consultant UNESCO Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage; Hon. Evelyn Oboro, Delta Central PDP Senatorial candidate; Hon Ben Rollands Igbakpa, House of Representative PDP candidate, Ethiope Federal Constituency; Chief (Mrs) Faith Majemite, Chairman, Ethiope East Local Government; Professors Temi Akporhonor, Sunny Awhefeada and S.W.E Ibodje; HRM Lucky Ochuko Ararile (rtd), Avwaeke 1, Ovie of Umiaghwa-Abraka Kingdom; HRM Emmanuel Sideso (JP) OON, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, represented by Chief Abovi Erute led delegates; His Royal Majesty Noble Eshemitan, Uku Oghara N’ame, Orefe III, the Ovie of Oghara Kingdom, represented by Chief Frank Emiko led delegates; His Royal Majesty Okiemute Onajite Igere 1, the Ovie of Ogor Kingdom; Prince George Ugen, MD JFM Radio; Comr. Nicholas Omoko, National President, Urhobo Progress Union (Youth Wing); Forum of Presidents General of the 24 kingdoms of Urhoboland; Dr. Stephen Kekeghe of College of Education Warri; Peter Omoko of the Delta State College of Education, Mosogar amongst others.
The event was heralded by a remarkable speech by the Chairman, Professor Sam Oyovbaire, who lauded the commitment and thoughtfulness of the organizers of the UEIS. The thrust of the summit, however, was the keynote delivered by Professor B. E. A. Oghojafor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services) University of Lagos, who x-rayed the various investment opportunities and the discouraging factors that are commonly encountered in Urhobo land. He began by highlighting the ancestral geographic spread of the Urhobo, which transcends the domain of Delta, Bayelsa and Edo State. He acknowledged the resourcefulness of Urhobo as a great people and ethnic nationality, highlighting the presence of productive human and natural resources in Urhobo land.
The keynote was followed by a panel discussion which was moderated by Professor Sunny Awhefeada, Director of Open and Distance Learning, Delta State University, Abraka. Mrs. Shimitte Bello, Executive Secretary, Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, anchored her discussion on Micro Service Scheme, noting that Government is ever ready to encourage investors with financial assistance, but lack of integrity and low business IQ of many investors negatively affect Government’s willingness to give out loans. She also pointed out that those venturing into businesses of any form, must be friendly and possess the right kind of attitude to attract customers and clients.
The second discussant, Mr Godfrey Efeurhobo, MD Smile Communications, provoked thought on the need to develop human capacity through the exposure of Urhobo sons and daughters to professional technological skills like ICT, which according to him, is imperative in the economic and industrial advancement of any society.
Henry Orhojoma, MD, AQME Technologies, Port-Harcourt, spoke on investment opportunities in oil and gas, noting that the invisibility of the Urhobo people in the petroleum industry attests to the inadequate exposure of Urhobo sons and daughters to professional skills and programmes in oil and gas as well as the brazen manifestation of self-centeredness by highly-placed Urhobo people, who do not encourage their kinsmen to find a grip in the oil sector.
Dr. Charles Apoki, a medical doctor and an established farmer and entrepreneur, highlighted the countless opportunities which the different domains of farming could offer to the Urhobo people. In his discussion, he spurred on practical engagement in agro businesses to foster food and financial security among the Urhobo.
The following are the highlights of the event:
• The Urhobo people must continue to maintain unity and cohesion, which will impact positively on their economic advancement and sociopolitical visibility.
• Education of Urhobo sons and daughters should be encouraged through scholarship aids by Urhobo people, who are prominent in business and governance.
• There should be consistent workshops and trainings on Urhobo youths, to expose them to the relevance of education and the acquisition of professional skills that will make them self-reliant.
• The seaports in Sapele and Warri should be revamped and another, opened at Okwagbe, to attract business opportunities to the people.
• There should be a regular forum like UEIS to spur initiatives on investment, financial and food security in Urhobo land.
• Urhobo sons and daughters should be encouraged to embark on a productive investments in the different aspects of Agriculture like fish farming, animal farming (including pig, goat and cattle rearing) and crop production (including cultivation of maize, potatoes, cassava, sugarcane, palm tree, rubber etc.) which are of robust economic significance.
• Urhobo people should embark on a long-term investment in Agro businesses.
• Urhobo youths should create conducive atmosphere devoid of violence and xenophobic sentiments for businesses to thrive.
• Urhobo politicians should invest more in Agriculture than elections.
• Urhobo youths should develop professional skills that will fit them into the oil and gas industry.
• Modular refineries should be established in Urhobo land to create jobs in the petroleum industry
• Urhobo politicians, irrespective of their political differences, must as a matter of urgency, unite to encourage the revamping of all moribund industries in Urhobo land, to create jobs for her teeming population.
The programme came to an end with expression of appreciation from the convener, Comr. Kingsley Ubiebi.
Dr. Stephen Kekeghe
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