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At 94th Anniversary, Okpe Union Urges Fair Representation For Nigerian Minorities 

The Okpe Union is planning innovative strategies to drive long-term progress, especially in political offices, for its members.

The Okpe Union’s 94th-anniversary celebration, which was held Saturday, May 18 in Lagos, had over 50 delegates representing both local and international Okpe Union branches.

The event was honoured by the presence of the Ayangburen of Ikorodu Kingdom, Oba Kabiru Adewale Shotobi and his wife, Olori Kudirat Abosede Shotobi, who is the granddaughter of the late Pa Thomas Ometie Ake, the founding president of the Okpe Union.

The event started with the President General of Okpe Union, Prof. O. Igho Natufe  welcoming the founding  member of the  Union, on behalf of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Okpe Union, and of all members in Nigeria and the Diaspora.

Natufe also acknowledged the founders, particularly Pa Ake, for their remarkable foresight. He credited their vision of establishing the Okpe Union with its current distinction as the longest-standing registered ethnic organization in Nigeria.

The organisation has blossomed into a sprawling network with chapters scattered across Nigeria and even internationally.

He added that the Okpe people are known for their peaceful and welcoming nature, fostering strong relationships with other ethnic groups in Delta State. They avoid conflict and strive for harmony within the state’s diverse community.

“We are neither loud nor overbearing to other ethnic nationalities in Delta State,” he said.

Highlighting the Okpe people’s status as one of over 400 ethnicities in Nigeria, the Okpe Union President emphasized their role as a building block of the nation. He stressed that, like other ethnicities, Okpe has a say in Nigeria’s future and as the leading Okpe organisation, the Union collaborates with other ethnic groups and national movements like the MNR and TheRebirthGroup to advocate for a renewed focus on federalism and good governance in Nigeria.

The President argued for a fresh approach to Nigerian governance, emphasising the importance of self-determination for ethnic groups within the national framework. 

He acknowledged the complexity of achieving this goal, citing the need for internal dialogue within the Okpe Nation and potential disagreements with others. 

Despite potential challenges, the President expressed confidence in the Okpe people’s ability to forge a path towards a brighter future.

“To avoid implying a separation from Nigeria, I rephrased ‘retrieval of our independence’ as ‘self-determination for ethnic groups’ within the national framework.To emphasise a more peaceful approach, I replaced ‘battle of ideas’ with ‘internal dialogue’ to encourage open discussion within the Okpe Nation.

“For neutrality, I softened ‘retrieval agenda’ to simply ‘goal.’ and also to focus on a positive outcome, I changed ‘redemption of the Okpe Nation’ to ‘brighter future’ for the Okpe people. President said.

The Okpe Union president  added that Okpe people have no secessionist intentions, insisting ‘Okpe is Okpe’ and not a clan of any other ethnic nationality in Nigeria or anywhere in the world.  

He said, “When a people do not know who they are, or equivocate about their identity and seek coverage under the identity of a different ethnic group or a nation, then they are as good as lost in the wilderness.

“We, Okpe are not lost. We have forever extinguished the sarcastic saying that ‘Okpe a mẹ rhen’, (‘Okpe are asleep,’ a sarcasm which has hurt the consciousness of the Okpe in so many ways. 

“We proudly declare that ‘Okpe i rhọ-mọn nẹ’ (Okpe have awakened). It was on the basis of this historical fact that we sought the recognition of Okpe as a distinct ethnic nationality.”

The president emphasised the importance of Okpe unity in tackling national challenges and ensuring strong representation for the Okpe people within Nigeria and on the global stage. 

He stressed the urgency of embracing their Okpe identity, highlighting that it’s an inherent part of a person’s heritage, with rare exceptions for those who choose otherwise.

“I am yet to see one though. We must therefore defend who we are and pass a better nation to our successors.  The Okpe Union and the Okpe People’s Forum must collaborate to lead the way,” saod Natufe.


He continued that the Okpe Union advocated for the equal treatment of all ethnicities in Nigeria, regardless of their size or territory. They believe that the oppression of any ethnic group weakens the entire nation’s sovereignty.

He said the traditional  union emphasises its commitment to building a strong Nigerian democracy and believes this requires a system that respects the self-determination of ethnic groups within the legal framework, fosters cooperation among indigenous ethnic nationalities and the Rule of Law in the polity, and jointly shared by all ethnic nationalities that constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Natufe said the Okpe Union is firmly committed to strengthening Nigerian democracy snd believe a strong democracy requires a system that respects the cultural identity and aspirations of each ethnic group.

“This doesn’t mean complete independence, but rather a framework where ethnicities can contribute their unique voice within the legal system,” he clarified. 

“However, Okpe Union shall continue its advocacy of investments in Okpe Nation, including reaching out to the Delta State Government on this important subject. 

“We shall intensify our lobbying of both the Federal and State governments to ensure the revival of Sapele seaport and the attraction of industries to Okpe Nation. 

“We shall utilise the extensive experience of Okpe nationals, especially those in the Diaspora, to identify prospective investors to invest in Okpe Nation, under the framework of a public-private partnership (PPP). 

“To help this process, the state government must improve the infrastructural deficits in Delta State, especially in Okpe Nation, to make the environment attractive to foreign and domestic investors,” the Union President said .

“We are committed to working with other ethnic nationalities in restructuring the Nigerian edifice to guarantee the safety of all indigenous ethnic nationalities, on the basis of justice, fairness and equity, where our rights are recognized and protected under a renewed federal constitution,” he concluded.

Enome Boluwatife

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