The Urhobos are people of Southern Nigeria and the major ethnic group in Delta State. The people are united and not limited to territorial boundaries. They can be found clustered in different parts of the state such as:Agbarha-Ame (Warri), Agbarha-Otor, Agbarho, Agbon, Aravwarien, Effurun-otor,Evwreni, Ewu, Idjerhe (Jesse), Mosogar, Oghara, Ogor, Okparabe, Okere-Urhobo, Okpe,Olomu, Orogun, Oruarivie-Abraka, Udu, Ughelli (Oghele), Ughievwen, Umiaghwa-Abraka, Uvwie and Uwheru. They predominantly inhabit the following Local Government Areas of Delta State such as:
- Ethiope East
- Ethiope West
- Warri South
- Sagbama (in Bayelsa State)
- Ikpoba Okha (in Edo State)
Despite abundant blessings of human and natural resources, the Urhobo Nation is experiencing dire economic, political and social challenges. There is a considerable level of anxiety among the Urhobos due to their feeling of being relatively sidelined and marginalized in the scheme of things in Nigeria. Recent economic indices indicate that the Urhobo Nation, which was hitherto renowned for having resourceful businessmen and women, is currently wobbling at the bottom step of economic ladder. Poverty and underdevelopment have become widespread and collective impoverishment is fast becoming the defining attribute of the Urhobo Nation.
Poverty level among the Urhobos is on a geometric rise, yet their traditional livelihoods and occupations are being dislocated and disoriented mainly by the environmental and social impacts of the oil and gas sector.
In the past successive years, many Urhobo youths most of who are graduate of tertiary institutions have continued to struggle without gainful employments. Worse still is the unjustifiable closure of State industries and the relocation of private business concerns from the State over exaggerated reasons of insecurity, continue to shrink the prospects of these youths to gain employment and career development opportunities.
Besides these educated youths, is a teeming ‘army’ of youths consisting of school drop-outs and illiterates. Some of these readily become delinquents and indulge in varied forms of crimes, including extortion, kidnapping, prostitution, fraud, armed robbery, pipe line vandalism, political thuggery, etc. Who would have foreseen a time when Urhobo youths would openly beg for money with flattering chants of “Ose!” (father). This behavioral reversal implicit in public begging by able bodied Urhobos, represents a powerful battering on the self-pride of the Urhobos.
Located in the oil and gas belt of Delta State, the Urhobo Nation has a variety of resources and facilities which confers on it significant comparative economic advantage. These resources if well harnessed and utilized can be of tremendous value in developing its economic potentials and improving the quality of life of its people and communities.
Over the past fifty years, there have been significant changes in Urhobo Nation leading to a gradual but alarming deterioration in both the environment and the economy of the people. Most of the industries in Urhobo Nation especially the Delta Steel Company located at Ovwian-Aladja (currently Premium Steel and Mines Limited), African Timber& Plywood Industries (AT&P), Sapele; Sparkling Brewery Ltd, Ughelli; Superbru, Ughelli; Flogret Ltd, Ovwian; Prudent Energy Services Ltd; and several Petrochemical companies etc are moribund and several others are facing challenges. Despite the presence of a seaport in Sapele, jetties in Oghara and Mosogar the area is yet to optimize the full potentials of its God-given natural resources to the benefit of the people.
In this era where the private sector is the engine of growth and development, it is the duty of this generation to re-tool the foundation for the sustainable development of Urhobo Nation.