ESAN PROVERBS & INTERPRETATIONS

Published by: Izobofolo’s Blog –

1. Akugbe-Ahu – Unity is strength
2. Ahua re bhenbhen – It takes strength to indulge in lunatic acts.
3. Hianbhegbe okpa sonomhen – Pride, arrogance irritate me.
4. Okpea non miobor ole gbo okhuo – Its only a jobless man that beats up a woman!
5. Eji Aah nyẹlẹn ọhle Aah khọ- People resemble where they live.
6. Udo ni Aah daghe ọ’ vade ii degbi ọrhia bhi ẹlo- A missile that one sees coming does not blind one.
7. Eji ọboh da gui otọ ọhle ọda horiẹ.-A native doctor disappears only where he is used to.
8. Aah ii ri ebi Aah nanọ bui awa re.- You don’t tempt a dog with something to lick, since dog is an avid licker.
9. Aah gheghe yọ ni olimhin kha mhẹn bhi ẹlo, ọhle Aah da ri ukpọn bhọ- Clothing a corpse is simply to beautify it.
10. Aah ii fi eni bhi otọ kha khin oha-ọtan.- Do not go hunting for squirrel while you have an elephant as a catch.
11. Aah ii di isira ọnọ khin eni khin ẹkpẹn. Or, Aah ii khin ẹkpẹn man ọnọ khin eni.- You don’t change to a tiger in the presence of one who can change to an elephant.
12. Amẹn ni ọrhia la muọn ii gbera ọle a. – The water one would drink can never flow past one
13. Aah ii yi ọbhẹnbhẹn khui ọkhọh. Do not ask a mad man to chase fowls away, since he would do it madly.
14. Ene wue bhi uwa kha yọ ele min okpodu, bi ene wuẹ bhi ole ki da ta yẹ.-What would they say who slept outside if those who slept inside complained of harassment?
15. U’u ii ji Aah gui na.- Death is impervious to appeal.
16. Ewa’ẹn Aah rẹ gbi efẹn nọ ribhi ẹkẹ akhe.- Killing a rat that is holed up inside an earthen pot requires wisdom.
17. Ufẹmhẹn si obhokhan kha na, Aah ki yọ owualẹn kani ọhle ni ọle.- When the arrow from a child’s bow travels far, an adult is suspected to be responsible.
18. Ọnọ gbi ọnọdeọde ọhle ọnọdeọde viẹ bhi itolimhin.- In a funeral each mourner mourns the fate that befalls him, not the deceased’s.
19. Ọmọn nọ yyu ọle mhọn ose nẹ.- It is the deceased child that is always the prettiest.
20. Ohu bha lẹn ebialẹn si ọhle.- Fury does not know its owner’s strength otherwise a weakling’s rage would be tempered with restraint.
21. Agbọn khi ese.- It is human beings that do disguise as supernatural forces.
22. Ọnọ ii ribhi eni, ọle Aah ri enyan si ọle tọn bhi egbi era’ẹn.- It is the absent one whose yam would always be kept beside the fire.
23. Eto kha rẹ re, Aah yẹ lẹn eji ukẹhae nae. -No matter how hairy the head becomes, the forehead remains distinct.
24. Aah kha yọ ni Aah sikoko, Aah bha yyọ ni Aah simama- A call to gather together is not an invitation to muddle together.
25. Aah kha khin ẹkpẹn fo, ebi Aah khiẹn ki fo – After changing to a tiger, you simply have no other thing to change to.
26. Aah kuẹ ri ikhilẹn khin ẹgua’e ọba, ọba kuẹ nyẹn uge- The king need not tiptoe in order to peep at a dance coming to be staged at his palace.
27. Ọni Aah bbhobholo ii bhobhi ọrhia- The one who is carried on one’s back cannot back someone else.
28. Oẹ ọkpọkpa Aah zẹ bhi okọ-ẹdin – In a palm oil dish, you take one step at a time.
29. Irẹlobhegbe zẹ ni ọkhọ bha da lli afiamhẹn – But for forbearance, the chicken would have taken into eating birds.
30. Ose ba ni emiamhẹn – Beauty is more painful than infirmity.
31. Ọnabhughe ọ’ min olimhin ni Aah ri izagan mun – It is the truant that comes in contact with a corpse wrapped in basket.
32. Aah ii ri ẹbhe ni oruen ọrhia rẹmhọn – To ensure a lasting relationship, do not offer a goat to your in-law for safe-keeping.
33. Aah kha gbi ugan bhi evele, Aah ki ri ukpọn bhọ re – If it is being debated, a man should undress to counter claims that he is suffering from penile bloat.
34. Ebi Aah bha mmin Eboh, Aah bha rruẹn ebeh-ọghẹdẹ – Prior to the arrival of Europeans, no one wore banana leaves, but clothes.
35. Ẹnyẹn ni otuan ọkpa miẹn ọhle khi ubhiọ – It is the serpent seen by a single person that is called a lizard.
36. Uhọmhọn na ji ikọ ọ’ ii gbi ikọ – An envoy isn’t punished for the message he conveys.
37. Ọkhin ẹkpẹn ii khin eni – He does not change to a tiger one who changes to an elephant. Or, Everyone has an area where he is talented.
38. Aah kha rui ẹlo, Aah ki kha ri ẹwua’ẹn khian – Blindness demands caution. Or, When one is blind, one learns to walk with care.
39. Afiabhẹn ni Aah ri igẹnh si ọhle lui emhin, ẹjẹje Aah min ọhle ele – The bird whose feathers are treasured must walk circumspectly.
40. Ebe bha ji ọrhia rẹ lẹn egbe, ọhle ọrhia da tẹ- Disgrace is sure to come from that over which one cannot exercise self-control.
41. Ebe yi okhuo zẹ bhi ileghe re, akun ọ’ ye.- That which compels a woman to reduce her waist beads lies in her waist.
42. Ọ’ ii yi ọta ni ekhẹn ta yi ẹki, ọ’ ii yi ọhle ele ta vae – Traders’ subject of discussion to the market differs from their homeward discussion.
43. Ọ’ ii yi ẹdẹ ni Aah muin ure ọ’ ii yi ẹdẹni Aah ri ọhle zọ ese – It is not the same day a snail is found that it is offered as sacrifice to an idol.
44. Eji Aah tan sẹ, ọhle Aah da ji uhọmhọn – A person’s head must grow where his height stops.
45. Ure kha lo bhi ẹbọ, ọ’ ki khin ẹbọ – When a snail inhabits a shrine, it becomes an idol.
@ Ọsakọn Aah lẹlẹ, Aah ii lẹli ọmeto – It is the dentist that can be tricked, not the hairdresser.
46. Odin ii talọ, ọta ri ọle bhi unu – Although speechless, the deaf has something to say.
47. Ojie ii gbo yọ ni Aah ri ojie tọ bhi itikun – A king never asks a king to be buried in a refuse site.
48. Okhuẹlẹn nẹko kpe – A grass-cutter’s plumpness is achieved in hiding.
49. Ẹmhọn ri ọdan ba bhi egbe, ọhle rri ikpea do bhi omin. (LIT)
Ọbo ii bọ bhi ebi ọle lẹ’ẹn – A native doctor doesn’t consult his oracle concerning that which he knows
50 ‘Nine’ bha jji Ebo llu – Despite his ingenuity, the white man could not create the number nine.nearly LIT
Elamhẹn n’ọ ii mhọn akọn, ọhle ki odalo bhi ishi oyi – It is the toothless beast that is always the first arrival at the orchard.
51. Usẹn bi usẹn ko yi egbe ‘halo’ – It is age mates that greet each other with ‘hello’.
52. Ẹdebe ọhle Aah rẹ ye ọkha’e re – A hero is often remembered on a bad day.
53. Ọ’ ii yi ọnọ ka kha khọmhọn ka yu – The first person to fall sick is not always the one to die first.
54. Ọbo kha wuo ni ọbo, ọ’ ki ri ọbo khuọn ẹkpa. (LIT)
Ogun bi ogun kha min egbe, ughamhan ele rẹ tui egbe – When blacksmiths meet, both salute each other with iron.
55. Aah kha kha viẹ, Aah yẹ daghe. Even in tears, it is not impossible to see.
56. Ẹghe ni Aah bha rẹ llẹn ẹlo ikpakpa, ọhle ikpakpa ki rẹ gbi ọrhia – Men only died of toxin beans when they lacked knowledge of the food.
57. Okhuo ii yi okhuo biẹre khi ọmọn fui ọlle bhọ – A woman doesn’t ask a fellow woman to put to bed that she herself is childless.
58. Ẹruẹ ii yi ẹruẹ ọyabhihue – English version: ‘A kettle does not call a kettle black.’
59. Ebi Aah miẹn ofẹn ii muin uki, bi ọhle ii da bha ọsi adamhẹn – If not for fear, why doesn’t the moon shine in the daytime?
60. Ẹlo ọriọbhe bhia’e, ọle ii rẹ daghe – Although he has good eyesight, a stranger doesn’t see with his eyes.
61. Ọnọ rẹre, ọle Aah da ọle obọ – It is the generous person that would always be approached for assistance.
62. Ọriọbhe giẹrẹn lumhin eman, ọle bha lẹn eji Aah ri ubhokọ gọ- Although a stranger pounds pounded yam well, he lacks knowledge of where to keep the pestle.
63. Aah ii ri emhin ni ọkhian re mhọ’ẹn – You don’t give something to a traveller to keep.
64. Ẹdẹ ni okhuo rẹ nyin eman ebe, ẹdẹni ọlle rẹ le nẹ – It is on the day a woman cooks a bad meal that she eats best.
65. Elamhẹn ọbhebhe ii ni isọn emẹdin ebeiyi uriẹi – Except porcupine, no other animal has palm waste in its excreta.
66. U’u bha gbi iban, ọhle di khin ẹdin – The flower of a palm tree will eventually become palm nuts if death spares it.
67. Oghian ọrhia zẹ ni u’u da ba bhi egbe – It is one’s enemy that makes death hurtful.
68. Obhokhan kha ni isọn ebe, Aah ki ri ebe ugbolimhosaka gbo ọle uwedin a. – If a child defecates repulsive excreta, the leaf of a spiky plant will be used to wipe his buttocks.
69. Aah kha kha gbi ugba, ọtẹtẹh rie – At the repeated shaking of the calabash, insects find their way out.
70. Aah bha min ebi Aah khin ọkhọmhọn yẹ, Aah ki zaghi ọle era’ẹn a.- If because of his illness you can’t hurt a sick person, you can at least extinguish the fire that keeps him warm.
71. Aah bha min ebi Aah khin ojie yẹ, Aah ki si ọle bhi ẹbho re – If because of his power you can’t challenge a king, you should quit his kingdom. Or, cf. ‘If you live in Rome, do not strive with the Pope.’)
72. Ẹghe ni Aah rẹ llui ẹmhọn, Aah rria ọhle a.- The time spent on lawsuit is time wasted.
73. Aah kha ri egbe yi isi ojie, ọshọ folo – When people take themselves to the king’s palace to settle dispute, they cease to be friends.
74. Ji uzo ki ri aho ọ ni ọhle da rẹ bi iweva – From where has antelope got the strength to give birth to twins?
75. Ukpokpo ni Aah rẹ ggbi ẹwobi, Aah bha refia, Aah ki rẹ gbi ọbhata – The whip that was used on a stupid person, if it is not disposed of, will be used on an innocent.
76. Aah ii min ebe khi ọkhọ ebeiyi akhokholẹ – Nothing resembles a chicken as does a bush fowl.
77. Ese kha la zi emhin, ẹkẹn-ọkhọ ki va udo a – When supernatural forces are at work, it is not impossible for a hen’s egg to crack a stone.
78. Ebe ka llui ọkhọ di yẹ lui ẹbhe – A goat will by no means escape the fate of a chicken as long as feasts last.
79. Ọkpọkpa Aah gbe ni okhọ’ẹn da lọ – A war is sustained till the end by gradual killing rather than by outright annihilation. Or, cf. English version: ‘Rome was not built in a day’ or ‘One thing at a time.’
Aah ii dunu bhi igbanaka. (LIT)*
80. Ji ehọ ni Aah la rẹ họn, ọhle Aah nẹ emhin na – The very fact that certain things are offensive to the ear is the reason they are considered taboos.
81. Ojie kha la le, ọ’ ki zi ọgbọn re – A king’s ascension to the throne is initially followed with fundamental changes.
82. Bi Aah la le ẹlẹna, ?bi Aah la le akha, ọhle ukhumhun rẹ fo – The question of today’s meal and tomorrow’s provision is how a famine abates.
83. Aah ii ri afe nani umhẹn – You don’t start licking salt simply because you are wealthy.
84. Aah ii nọ ọnọ mhọn igho bi ọle la de – You don’t ask the moneyed man what he will buy with his money.
85. Ẹsọn ka ggbi enefe – The rich once suffered hardship.
86. Ẹbọ kha kha to, ọhle mhọn ohẹn si ọhle – No matter how austere an idol is, it has its priest who pacifies it.)
87. Ọkaleteh ii kpọ – Heroes are hard to find.
88. Ughe ughulu da ho ukhuọ ọhle ni Aah kha yọ ghe khi ẹkẹ ọhle mun ni ọhle – That hawk makes love to its wife in the open sky is to debunk rumours that it impregnated her out of wedlock.
89. Aah ii ri ugbele si Akogho loli ugbele. (LIT)
Uhẹn-ẹlẹ zẹ ni Aah ii da nẹ bhi ẹki.- Don’t defecate in a marketplace because it will be there for you to see on the next market day. Or, cf. English version: ‘The evil that men do lives after them.’
90. Ẹwa’ẹn Aah rẹ gbi udia nọ timan bhi ikpẹkẹn – Killing a tsetse fly that perches on one’s scrotum demands wisdom.
91. Uhọmhọn ni Aah bha ji obhokhan ele, ọhle kha gbi ache bi uwawa bhọ, ọhle ki ha osa – A child must pay for the destruction of items that results from carrying out a task that was never assigned to him.
92. Uzehia kha zẹ bhi eji obọ ii sẹ, Aah ki yi ọhle lala a – If one has boil in a part of the skin beyond reach, the boil is advised to rot.
93. Aah ii gẹn ọmọn bhi isira ọle – Don’t sing praise of a child in his presence.
94. Emhinh erebhe ne ribhi omhọn ti egbele itata – Every ingredient in soup likes to be seen as meat.
95. Ọ’ ii yi ẹlo ni Aah rẹ le eman, ọ’ ii yi ọhle Aah rẹ kha elamhẹn – The attitude with which food is eaten differs from that with which meat is shared amongst the eaters.
96. Ese kha la zi emhin, omhọn ni inodẹ ki oto obọ a – It becomes possible today for yesterday’s soup to burn one’s hand once supernatural forces are at work.
97. Ọ’ ii yi ẹlo ivin ivin rẹ ni udẹn – A palm kernel would never produce palm ointment unless under the searing heat of the pot.
98. Aah ii ni ọnọ wuẹle gbi ugan si ebhohiẹ – You don’t argue about a dream with its dreamer.
99. Ọbhẹbhẹn yyọ ghe khi ena ọle rri era’ẹn fiọ, ghe ọnọ to khian ni ọle bha lẹn ẹlo bhọ – A mad man only knows of the spot where he dropped fire but cannot account for the offshoot ravaging the forest.
100. Aah kha rẹkhan ẹkpẹn khian, Aah ki li elamhẹn; Aah kha rẹkhan ẹbhe khian, Aah ki li ebeh – A companion of tiger will feed on meat but a companion of goat will eat leaves.
101. Ebale kha sike ebgi unu gbe, ọ’ ii ji Aah le – Food that is too close to the mouth is difficult to eat.
102. Ọba ii de Esan, Ọzọloa ii ri Ẹdo – No Benin monarch visits Esan land, just as Ọba Ọzọloa who was slain in Esan will never return to Benin.
103. Ọgbihiagha bhi uhọmhọn nain ọka yyọ ghe ọhle lẹn otu si ọhle.- The dreadlocked maize insists it knows its age mates.
104. Evẹkpẹn kha vi ẹkpẹn fo, Ibhioba ki bi ebeh – The people of Ibhioba clear the leaves after the butchers of tiger are done.) nearly LIT
105. Eni ediọn kha le, enai ẹlimhin ki khọn – When the elders eat, the spirits are full.)
106. Ọnọ ii mhọn ọmọn ii mhọn oruan – The one who has no child cannot have an in-law.
107. Ọnọ ri ebeh bin uwa kha dia khẹ efi – He who builds a house with leaves should expect the storm.
108. Aah gbudu yi ọba ‘họ’ọ’! – Even the king can be reprimanded.
109. Ebi Aah gbe bha yu, Aah ii mun bhi ẹkpa – Until the animal you are killing is dead you don’t put it in a sack.
110. Ebi Aah ko ta, ọhle khi ẹmhọn ni inẹdeso – What was discussed earlier is what can be cited as a previous discussion.
110. Aah ii tti egbe emhin, ọhle enele da tto uwa a – That the house was gutted by palm waste was due to disregard for something.
111. Ẹdẹ ii tughu ọ’ bha sẹn- A river must become crystal-clear after being upset.
112. Ijan ọkpa ọmọle feọ n’ọ da hu – If a man’s urine must foam, he must urinate on one spot. Or, cf. English version: ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss.’
113. Aah bha min ebe re n’ọ ii fo – There’s nothing without an end. Or, Whatever is in vogue ultimately expires.
114. Ukpọn ni ahoho sabọ, ọhle ọ’ re bhi ifi – The wind only picks the dress that it can take off the rope.
115. Ebe ii yi emhin ọhle ho alo – It is the insignificant thing that struggles over the forefront.
116. Ọnọ mhọn ivie bhi uru bha lẹn si ọ’ ghanmhin – He who has a gold necklace round his neck does not know its worth.
117. Etin kha di oya, Aah ki ri abọ eveva fi ọhle -When a blow becomes a challenge, the two hands will be used to apply the blow.
118. Osẹ ko eran ni ọnọ ii mhọn uze – It is God who provides firewood for the one who has no axe.
119. Ebe ba bhi egbe ii ni ara’ẹn re – A painful experience does not necessarily bring out blood.
120. Ohuẹ ii tie bi ọle miẹn bhi ikhẹeran – A hunter never discloses the happenings in his hunting expedition.
121. Omhọn n’ọ mhẹn bhi unu ii si eman – Delicious soup is often inadequate for a meal.
122. Ẹbho ni Aah ii da min ahiẹlẹkpẹnh ọhle ọkhọh da lui mama – It is in the land where there are no hawks that chickens have leverage.
123. Aah ii tọni egbe bi eji egbe rẹ tọnọ – Do not scratch your skin just the way it itches you.)
124. Unẹ bha sẹ khin unẹ ọhle okhuo da ri obọ muin inyẹ’ẹnh mhọ’ẹn. (A woman holds tight to her breasts only when a race has not assumed seriousness.)
125. Aah ii walan si u’u bhọ. (Man is senseless before death.)
126. Ese ii muin ẹdẹ. (No amount of trouble can prevent daybreak.)

30 HISTORICAL FACTS ABOUT THE GREAT BENIN KINGDOM

By: The Institute For Benin Studies –

Do you know that the Oldest Surviving Kingdom in the World is Great Benin Kingdom and is 2054 years Old? This piece reveals 30 amazing facts you never knew about the Great Benin Kingdom

The Great Benin Kingdom is probably Nigeria’s greatest empire. The Ogiso dynasty lasted for about 854 years plus an interregnum of 285 years between the reign of Ogiso Orire and Ogiso Odia, there was an interregnum of 70 years between Ogiso Owodo and Oba Oranmiyan plus 845 years of Oba ruler-ship till date.

Below are 30 amazing facts about the Great Benin Kingdom:

1.The First Storey Building in Nigeria was built at Ughoton by the Dutch in the year 1718, and it was called “The Factory”. The said building was destroyed by the British during the war against the Benins in 1897. The site of the building is still intact.

2. The Oldest Church in West-Africa was established in Great Benin Empire by the Earliest Portuguese missionaries in the 16th Century which is today known as the Holy Aruosa (Benin National Church). Pope Pius XII visited Benin and handed the church to the Oba of Benin, Oba Oreoghene in 1692AD.

3. The first Known Embassy Established in Nigeria was in Benin during the reign of Oba Esigie in the 16th century.

4. The Oldest known letter written in Nigeria was by Duarte Pires instructed by Oba Esigie which was addressed to King John II, on the 20th October, 1516AD. The second oldest letter was written by Anthonio Domingo (Great-grand Son of Oba Olua) to the Pope to seek for missionary assistance in other to spread Christianity in Benin Empire in 1652AD.

5. Oba Orhogbua founded Lagos and planted a dukedom, the Obaship of Lagos (Eko).

6. Oldest ever recorded market in Africa is Ogiso (Agbado) Market dated 60BCE.

7. The first ever recorded bank (Owigho) in present day West-Africa was built in Benin kingdom by Oba Eresoyen, construction started in the year 1740AD and was completed in the year 1743AD.

8. Queen Idia (Oba Esigie mother) is the first Oba’s mother to be alive to see her son becoming an Oba. That’s because traditionally previous Crown prince mothers were killed before their Sons ascend the throne.

9. Ga tribe of present day Ghana migrated from Benin during Oba Udagbedo reign (1299-1334)

10. Oduduwa was the exiled crowned prince from Benin known as Ekaladerhan, which is being purported as the progenitor of the Yoruba race.

11. The monarch of Warri kingdom is an off shoot of the royal house of Benin kingdom founded by prince Iginuwa the Son of Oba Olua in the 15th century.

12. The Osemawe of Ondo was corrupted from Osemwughe, the Benin warrior who deserted Udo town, when there was war between Benin City and Udo town.

13. The word Ondo was corrupted from the town “Emwan N’Udo” (people of Udo town)

14. The world most famous mask Queen Idia mask was the face of FESTAC 77’ held in Lagos.

15. The word Benin was corrupted from Ubini by the Portuguese explorer meaning “a place of heavenly pageantry and prosperity.”

16. Oba Esigie is the first King in Africa to be baptized in the year 1504AD in Benin.

17. The King of Benin can in a single day make 20,000 men ready for war, and, if need be, 180, 000, and because of this he has great influence among all the surrounding peoples’ … His authority stretches over many cities, towns and villages. There is no King thereabouts who, in the possession of so many beautiful cities and towns, in his capital – Olfert Dapper, description of Africa, 1668.

18. According to the Guinness Book of Records (1974 edition) described the walls of Benin City and its surrounding kingdom as the world’s largest earthworks carried out prior to the mechanical era.

19. According to estimates by the New Scientists Fred pearce, Benin City’s walls were at one point “four times longer than the great wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops”

20. Benin City is surrounded by massive walls dug by Oba Oguola in 13th century and Oba Ewuare I in the 15th century.

21. Great Wall of Benin extended for some 16,000km in all, in a mosaic of more than 500 interconnected settlement boundaries. They covered 6, 500sq km and were all dug by the Edo people.

22. The Great wall of Benin took an estimated 150million hours of digging to construct, and are perhaps the largest single archaeological phenomenon on the planet.

23. Benin City is the first City to have a semblance of street lighting in the world.

24. The Portuguese were the people who called our land “Great City of Benin” because they were astonished with what they saw that the Edo people achieved centuries before any major cities in the world.

25. 1n 1691, the Portuguese ship captain Lourenco Pinto observed: “Great Benin, where the king resides, is larger than Lisbon; all the streets run straight and as far as the eyes can see.

26. The Binis are the best bronze casters (Igun – eronmwon) in the world.

27. Two kings were installed without a crown, Ogiso Igodo (40BC-16AD) and Oba Oranmiyan (Odolorre) 1170-1200AD.

28. Great Benin is known as the cradle of Black civilization and the centre of the world (Edorisiagbon).

29. The Benin were the first to use sophisticated weapons (guns) to fight war(Idah war) in the present day Nigeria in about 501 years ago (August, 1516), the war was led by Oba Esigie mother (Queen Idia).

30. All Oba’s in Lagos(Eko) were all buried in their ancestral home (Benin City) until late 19th century, to further lay credence to that Oba Osemwende in 1834 instructed Idewu Ojulari, the Oba of Lagos to zegbele (kill himself) the instruction was, expectedly, complied with. The Lagos Oba complied by taking poison.

IMPERATIVES OF A CAMPAIGN FOR RESTRUCTURING [PART 1]

By: Andy Akporugo Jr

On Thursday last week at the high-hatted Radisson Blu Hotel, I sat in the company of some of the finest Urhobo minds mainly resident in Lagos. We were guests of ‘‘The Urhobo Foundation’’, sobering over a lecture, one in a series, delivered by perhaps the foremost Urhobo ‘nationalism-intellectual’, the redoubtable Professor G. G Darah, under the theme ‘‘The Urhobo Nation and the Restructuring of Nigeria’’.

As discussants was a carefully selected assemblage of the very best of the varied expertise of the Urhobo tribe: Prof. Joe Abugu, professor of Commercial Law, University of Lagos; Mr. Ese Onosode, who amongst many descriptions, is the Chairman of a very ambitious Delta Economic Summit group [about which purpose I shall return to, somewhere in this offering] and son of the very venerated Dr Gamaliel Onosode, who as an individual perhaps had more corporate business experience than the whole of Delta State did; Mr Ede Dafinone, accomplished professional and scion of the very accomplished Senator D.O Dafinone’s family and Professor Mrs Okobia, Vice Chancellor of the Western Delta University, Oghara. I now struggle to recall the name of the last discussant.

At the end of the presentation of what was a very well received paper, I had been able to pen down a few pieces of education, some of which I now volunteer as follows:

i. The Urhobos are comprised in 24 kingdoms, 9 local government areas in Delta State and also settling in parts of Bayelsa State, are the 5th largest ethnic group in Nigeria; certainly large enough to own their own state, their land area measuring almost double the size of Lagos State’s 3,577 sq Kilometres

ii. Its area is rich with the finest crude oil [especially from Kokori], 400 oil wells, 8 huge rivers which directly access the Atlantic ocean, a Refinery, a steel plant, a power plant, vast agrarian land etc etc. It is said that if you savoured an orange and carelessly spat its seeds outside your house in the evening, you would require a cutlass to weed an orange plant the following morning instead of a broom to trash the seeds!

iii. Lagos which bridges we still count until today, was built majorly up till the 70s, almost exclusively from the revenue of a richly producing ‘Urhobo oil block’, OML 30, an unthankful provision which was similarly enjoyed by the whole of Nigeria in its successful prosecution of its civil war and the gluing of its disparate parts.

iv. The Urhobo people are true federalists, being already congregated for many years along its tenants within its 24 kingdoms and the first ethnicity to break-off from the Benin kingdom, in search of its own destiny.

v. The first hostility towards the Urhobo people by Nigeria was in 1968 when the Gowon government scapegoated them for Ojukwu’s intransigence, when it ordered oil companies to relocate out of Urhobo land to Lagos State for safety

vi. A further act of belligerence was soon to follow in 1969 via a directive that every revenue from oil and gas should be owned by the Federal Government, at a time when other tribes owned their own natural resources. The expropriation has since received consistent constitutional protection and now nestles in Section 44[3] of the 1999 Constitution.

vii. Currently, all the Urhobos are allowed is only a part of a measly 13% of the revenue from oil which they have 100% ownership of! The rhythmic representation of this travesty was expressed in choruses of ‘‘13% derivation being 87% deprivation’’!

viii. The Urhobo demand is that Nigeria must return to its constitution of 1963 by which the regions had considerable autonomy, the proposed revenue sharing formula for emphasis, being 50% to the regions, 20% to the Federal Government and 30% to a pool from which we shall again share.

I produce the above being my paternal Urhobo claims, mainly to buttress the Ijaw claims to which I associate [being myself grand-maternally of the purest Bekederemo stock] as well as those of tribes of the Niger Delta area, which insist on justice principally on the basis of a restructuring premised on the devolution of more powers to the states – truly only a pretentious phrase which in fact, starkly translates to more or total control of the oil revenue from the area.

While I recognize that the above arguments for restructuring/resource control may be premised differently elsewhere, especially in the Southeast where their natural resources lie more in their commercial venturing than in their earth, I do however believe that the relevant good governance issues I shall raise here do not diminish by the difference of premises.

Quickly, I propose to question the claims of state ownership of the resource. By the history of the Urhobo land and elsewhere, migration upon which most virgin lands became owned was an individual effort. The lands by the natural progression of ownership soon became communal. To that extent therefore, the most ambitious manner of ownership of Urhobo land was communal. That being the case, it would appear that the States cannot claim a better ownership of the land, and thus the resource buried in it, than can the federal government. They are both artificial, expropriatory interventions by strangers, whether in the form of Midwestern State or Bendel State or Delta State or the Federal Republic of Nigeria. if we push the logic of the restructure activists therefore, the true owner of oil caught flowing beneath my land ought to be me, my family or community sired by me! I shall return to complete this argument presently.

Beyond the issue of true ownership, it is my further argument that the heart of the current agitation for restructure does not beat in the chest of a demand for good governance! In truth, the agitation tends to raise more of ‘‘rights issues’’ whether human or economic, than good governance ones. In a sense, when I sat in the hall that day listening to the dominant rhetoric, it felt as if I was sitting at a pre-Nigerian independence sensitisation class. The argument being that we should be allowed to manage our resources or that we are a viable state are simply the same as for the quest of the independence of nations. Yet we know, don’t we, that independence in Africa has not necessarily given the people good governance. While the independence and control argument may overlap with the ‘social contract’, good governance one, it doesn’t necessarily make a compelling argument for it.

If you will forgive my French, the truth is that the problem that ‘‘squeezes our balls’’ in the NigerDelta is an ethical one more than it is structural! It is in fact the anxiousness to talk about the structural and leave the ethical and the insincerity that it represents, that deals a more ghastly blow to the agitation than all the guns of Abuja and elsewhere.

We currently are entitled to receive 13% of revenue from our oil. And we have received it for many years, along with revenue from elsewhere, all of which amount to billions of Naira in their hundreds in the last 18 years in the least, but what have the communities or the people of the NigerDelta states enjoyed on account of this revenue. Hasn’t almost all the revenue been looted? Can we honestly say that there is absolutely no state sponsored infrastructure in my community as indeed in most, simply because power has not properly devolved from Abuja on the states or because more funds have not been restructured into the hands of our governors who are in the main, primitive in their voracious greed?

My training advises me not to hope that a man who has criminally mismanaged little and literally eaten the rest, leaving us with a stinking belch from his overfeed, will suddenly call us to table when more is brought. This is the burden of our agitation and until we provide a response that provides guarantees to the contrary, our effort will only be seen as self-serving, almost criminal, especially because many of its champions are the same people who have perennially exploited the people off the little that have been provided. Let’s make no mistakes about this: the fact is that although ironic, it is yet a valid self-preservation prescription for the ordinary man to wish that the exploiter is kept far away in Abuja, than that the powers of a local tyrant are reinforced in such a way as to provide him with a real and urgent capacity to rob the ordinary man’s home of the function of providing some refuge for him, even if for the time being only pretentious and unenduring.

If we are not probing the criminal gluttony of our governors, we must interrogate their competence. Does power have to devolve to the states before they can be enriched from agriculture or commerce and industry or taxation for example? I trust that somebody is following the exchanges between Pat Utomi and former Governor Uduaghan from which we now understand in sum that for the apparent absence of the possibility of immediate personal aggrandizement, the government of Delta State refused to give a company intending to build a huge school and hand over to it for maintenance. A thief with some humanity will be patient enough to facilitate the building of the school and hope to loot from maintenance allocations, but No! Our brother thieves will steal seeds instead of harvests! Certainly, the issues raised in their bitter dialogue cannot be answered by arguments for restructure. Their answers will be found somewhere in the wickedness of man.

Surely, I vote for devolution of powers or restructure or resource control or what my dear friend Professor Edoba Omoregie would rename the ‘‘refederaton’’ project, but certainly, if the object of governance is the individual, they would be highfalutin words, until they are demanded, and we are assured that they will be operated, by those who by their ethical values we trust to have hearts that beat in their chests and not at their backs!

[to be continued]