Pan Niger Delta socio-political organisation under the aegis of Urhobo Progress Union on Thursday, outlined a seven-point ‘Charter of Electoral Key Issues’ that would form the basis of the presidential candidate and state governors they would vote during the 2023 general election.
The President-General of UPU, Chief Joe Omene, said these in a statement titled, “The presidential candidate Urhobos will vote for in 2023.”
The organisation said they would support a candidate that is committed to true democracy; accountability and transparency; respect for diversity and multiculturalism; record and capacity to create dignified employment for youth; security with community participation; demonstrate capacity to preserve the commonwealth for general benefits and capacity to restore hope and revive the unity of Nigerians.
According to the UPU, “Urhobos throughout Nigeria will troop out enmasse in the forthcoming 2023 elections to make a demographic political statement with our numbers of who should be the President of Nigeria on the basis of the key issues that matter to the Urhobo people.”
“Let us be very clear, the Urhobo people in electing democratic leaders in 2023, will be careful and meticulous in our choices of leaders and a president who will commit to and abide by the principles of federalism, acknowledgement and respect of our diversities, a track record of commitment to democratic tenets such as free and fair election, good governance with respect to fiscal and social accountability and other such desirable values,” the organisation emphasised.
While insisting that the 2023 elections mattered so much for the Urhobo people, other nationalities of the South-South and all oppressed ethnic groups across Nigeria, the UPU said its expectation was that its sons and daughters could be secure and free to live anywhere in Nigeria as part of the benefits of federating, without ethnic or religious profiling. He said such expectations had gradually become hopeless expectations turned into regrettable tragedies, such that the opinion of many Nigerians had turned towards secession from the federal union.
The statement reads, “Even when the Urhobo people that have not called for succession but have together with some nationalities have been generous enough to concede the middle ground of demands for reconsideration and restructuring of the terms of federating, some persons elected to temporary leadership positions have assumed the imperial perception of omniscience, falsely believing they have superior or asymmetrical control of coercive forces, despite the reality that the technology of modern warfare may defy such false arrogance of blind belief.
“It is against the background of the above painful reality of what the Urhobo people have suffered in this country that the Urhobo Progress Union is putting forward the Urhobos charter of electoral key issues, that will determine the direction we shall cast our votes and which of the presidential candidates Urhobo people shall vote for in the 2023 election.
“Accordingly, Urhobos will vote for a presidential candidate that will commit publicly to the following issues that matter to Nigerians
“A leader that is committed to true democracy: UPU is calling on all sons and daughters of Urhobo nation to vote in 2023, governorship and presidential candidates that commit publicly to further reform of the electoral system and enthrone a culture of credible election where votes count. Urhobo people do not want a president who gets to power with their votes to be begged and cajoled to sign future bills from parliament to improve the quality of elections in our country but will only sign when he or she is not on the ballot. Politicians who have proven records of frustrating free and fair elections at local government, state or federal elections, who have affiliations with election riggers, distortion of results at collation centres, bribing of judges and sponsorship of ballot box snatchers or thugs would be avoided and shall not get the votes of the Urhobo people in the 2023 election.
“Accountability and transparency: Urhobo voters are urged to examine and scrutinise the history of all persons aspiring for public offices to ensure that they have no public record of association with treasury looting, carting away of public funds were they are sorely needed for collective development, to hoard in developed western nations for their personal and family use only. They are to avoid such candidates like the plague they are and the harbingers of social plagues that they can be.
“Respect for diversity and multiculturalism: Urhobo voters are urged to scrutinise the actions and historical records of candidates to see if they abide by agreements and practices which foster respect for federal character and multiculturalism as enshrined in the federal character clause of the Nigerian constitution and the normative understandings in the national conferences that have been entered into by Nigerian nationalities, but deliberately frustrated by such persons and forces within their political leverage.
“Record and capacity to create dignified employment for youth: All over the country, Urhobo hard working youths, many of whom have obtained very decent education are now political aides to politicians and others, ‘okada’ and ‘keke napep’ riders. Many others have been denied opportunities for employment they are qualified for at the Federal Government because of where they come from as minorities. There is no enabling environment to create employment for themselves and others. For our hard working youths, the political firmament of the country has become a brood that consumes its eggs, this leadership trend must not be allowed to continue. That is why Urhobos and indeed Nigerian voters in 2023, will only vote for candidates with capacity and track record of creating an environment that will usher in abundant job opportunities.
“Security with community participation: At no time in the history of this country have the Urhobo people felt so unsecured and abandoned, particularly with respect to their security. The federal system has become one in which state governments have become chief security officers only in nomenclature and at best logistics providers to a security arrangement controlled from Abuja.
“Quite a number of Urhobo people have been killed by herdsmen armed with AK47 rifle in Abraka, Uwheru in Ughelli North and several other communities in Urhobo land where our women were raped. Our farmers and fishermen have become sitting ducks for foreign invaders and yet the security system renders everyone helpless. Urhobo votes shall be for a presidential candidate that will commit publicly to and willingly tweak the security architecture, reform of the security sector and governance to include levels of policing in the different layers and tiers of governance namely federal, state and community.
“Demonstrate capacity to preserve the commonwealth for general benefits: Urhobo people shall reserve their votes only for a presidential candidate with proven records of competence, capacity, credibility and commitment. Urhobos will vote such a candidate that is willing and have traceable public records of capacity to commit to zero tolerance for corruption; ready and prepared to courageously block leakages and cut the cost of governance, and not be a source of leakages to the public fiscus by himself and through associates. A candidate that will not arrogate privileges and benefits to his family and ethnic group, who will not create touts who levy and obstruct public enterprise. Urhobos will vote for that presidential candidate who will be at the forefront of re-establishing the independence of the Central Bank of Nigeria, rescuing it from the brazen grip of unprecedented partisanship and fawning patronage that has deprived that very institution of its professionalism; but an apex bank that will provide a framework that commits to a credible and transparent plan to normalise the exchange rate which has become a source of national shame and thus bring down inflation that distorts the productivity of our hard working Urhobo people back to single digits.
“Capacity to restore hope and revive the unity of Nigerians: Urhobo people will keenly scrutinise all those who offer themselves for leadership particularly the presidential candidates and will only vote a candidate that prioritises uniting and securing Nigerians, initiates and fosters reforms that will engender productivity, expansion of physical infrastructure as well as generating opportunities for all in a harmonious environment.
Given the terrible and bleak state of the nation and where the country currently is today, the Urhobo people will keep a date with history in 2023 by casting their votes for candidates particularly a presidential candidate that publicly and personally commit to the enumerated key issues above. That will be the candidate that Urhobo people will vote for in 2023.”