Okpe is most short-changed ethnic group in Delta State – Okpe Leaders
· Restate support for distinct ethnic nationality in Nigeria
Notable Okpe leaders in Delta state on Sunday continued the campaign of Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality in Nigeria.
The leaders noted: ‘’The Okpe Union strongly affirms that Okpe is not a sub-group or a clan of any other ethnic nationality.
“The letter of Udogun Okpe is an example of a person cutting his nose to spite his face. The Udogun Okpe letter has brought the Okpe Kingdom to global ridicule’’.
According to them, a publication authored by the Udogun-Okpe last week made several spurious statements discrediting the letter of the Okpe Union addressed to the governor of Delta state, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa on the 22nd of June 2021 requesting for the recognition of Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality.
But the prominent leaders in Okpe Kingdom on Sunday reaffirmed Okpe Union’s commitment to the agitation for the reinstatement and recognition of Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality.
The leaders further said: ‘’The NEC received the Udogun Okpe open letter to the governor with a shock, disbelief and regret as such a poorly worded piece, which contained several expressions intended to pitch some Okpe nationals against others, is claimed to have emanated from the highest traditional authority of Okpe’’.
In a communiqué of the Okpe Union from the emergency meeting of the national executive council, held on July 15 and 17, 2021, the union vowed to intensify its sensitization activities in Okpe nation regarding the fact that Okpe is a distinct ethnic nationality in Delta state.
The communiqué said: ‘’NEC shall continue its liaison with the government of His Excellency, Senator Dr. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa and the Delta State House of Assembly for the restatement and recognition of Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality,’’ the leaders stated.
Signed by the Okpe Union President General, Professor Igho Natufe, and General Secretary, Barrister Akpederin Kingsley, the union urged the Okpe traditional ruler to reconcile his present position with the position he brilliantly espoused in defence of Okpe identity in his keynote address at the 3rd AGM of the Okpe Union of North America on September 1, 2007.
The Okpe monarch was quoted as saying that Okpe Kingdom was a unique ethnic nationality in Delta state.
‘’Located in the central senatorial district of Delta state in Nigeria, Okpe is a unique ethnic nationality. It has distinctive roots in ancient history, tradition, culture, custom and language.
“The historical tract of the Okpe people is conclusive. The Okpe people are the most populous monolithic ethnic nationality in Delta state. Our people are rooted in migration from the Bini Kingdom.
“This historical experience is similar to most other ethnic nationalities of the Western Niger Delta. Of all these nationalities however, Okpe history, language, tradition, and culture are closer to those of Bini which form part of the Edo group of languages.”
The Okpe leaders noted that the authors of the Udogun Okpe rejoinder clearly have no understanding of the benefits of recognizing Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality
‘’The Okpe people will immediately occupy their pride of place in the comity of ethnic nationalities in Delta State and Nigeria as the misconception that Okpe is under another ethnicity would be buried forever.
“As an ethnic nationality that exclusively owns at least two local government areas in Delta state, the Okpe nation shall immediately be recognized in DESOPADEC and therefore be entitled to an exclusive commissioner and an Executive Director like our neighbour oil producing ethnicities of Delta State.
“The advantages of this include direct budget for the area, specific slots for different empowerment programmes and policies such as bursary awards for Okpe students which they now share with Urhobo students under crass discrimination and many other direct allocations’’.
The Union went further to say ‘’the development and teaching of Okpe language in all schools in Okpe land and beyond can generate immediate employment for Okpe language teachers which other fully recognized ethnicities currently benefit ’’
The Union insisted that the ‘’Okpe language will occupy its place in public broadcast be it radio and television as well as interpretation in churches and other public places.’
‘’Okpe music, traditional masters of ceremonies and orators shall flourish thereby generating more local employment.
“The development of the Okpe language will promote the survival of the language and also enhance literary advantages in the academics of Okpe children as African languages have proven to have an appreciable impact in the arts generally.
“The self-esteem for Okpe nationals that the recognition of Okpe ethnicity will bring about is unquantifiable.
“A robust self-esteem is a sine qua non for success in businesses, politics, and several other vocations