By John Oghojafor
Founded on the 16th day of May, 1930, Okpe Union Worldwide, the umbrella organization of the Okpe people in Delta State is indeed the oldest of such socio-cultural association of its class. Although, it was not time for an elaborate celebration, the leadership of the Union worldwide has chosen to mark its existence as it reels out its memorable achievements that span over the past eight decades and its remarkable feat for the past two years since the relocation of its headquarters to Orerokpe, the ancestral home of the Okpe people.
Addressing newsmen shortly after a brief ceremony marking the event in the Union’s headquarters in Orerokpe on Wednesday, the President-General, Chief Robert Onome, recalled that the Okpe Union was founded 88 years ago and it has been operating from Lagos until November 2016 when the Okpe people relocated the seat of the Union to Orerokpe.
He noted that the Okpe people are full of joy that the Union has not only survived but contributed immensely to the socio-economic and cultural development of the Okpe kingdom.
Said he: “It is our joy to inform you that the Okpe Union founded on the 16th of May, 1930 is 88 years old today (16/05/2018). Indeed, the Okpe Union and its branches all over the world are today marking the day May 16 being the 88th year of the Union.
“Today is a great day for the Okpe people because the Okpe Union has been at the forefront of all the socio-cultural development that have been taking place in the Okpe kingdom.”
Onome recalled the significant role which the Okpe Union played in resuscitating the revered throne of the Orodje of Okpe and by the ascension to the throne in 1945 of Ezezi II and of course the Sapele land case of 1942.
“What made the Okpe Union thick? it was the major player in the resuscitation of the revered throne of the Orodje of Okpe and by the ascension to the throne in 1945 of Ezezi II. Okpe Union also played a major role in the last Sapele land case of 1942. Okpe Union resurrected the agitation of the Okpe people in 1993 that the Orodje palace be built. Today, that edifice is there”, Chief Onome recalled, adding that the Union which, hitherto, had its headquarters in Lagos was relocated to Orerokpe in November 2016 to enable the Union understand and engage the government in all development issue in Okpe kingdom.
The President-General, in reeling out more achievements of the Union, recalled that within the short time the headquarters was relocated to Orerokpe, the Union has been able to engage the government on the issue of the infrastructural deficit in Okpe kingdom which is made of up of Okpe and Sapele Local Government Areas, adding that the Union presented a demand list of projects needed by the Okpe people in the two LGAs during two Town hall meetings organized by the Delta State government in Sapele and Orerokpe in 2017.
Chief Onome disclosed that the state government has been giving attention to the demands presented by the Union, adding that the Okpe Secondary School is now being fenced while contractor has moved to site for the construction of the old Okpe road from Jeddo to Ohore.
He also noted that the Union has been engaging the government concerning the old Oha bridge project which, according to him, is being considered. He recalled the pressure the Union put on NDDC which has culminated into the construction of some roads in Orerokpe.
The President-General also informed that Union has embarked on opening of branches across the country, pointing out that a branch of the Union has been opened in Ghana, the essence of which is to reach out to Okpe people wherever they are.
He also stated that the Union was in constant touch with well-to-do Okpe indigenes in other parts of the country and in the Diaspora to come home and open industries in the area to create employment and the develop the entire kingdom, assuring that the Union was also making plans to reach out to oil companies operating in the two Okpe LGAs to, as part of their corporate social responsibility, extend development to the area.
He noted that the two LGAs that make up the Okpe kingdom have a total of 60 productive crude oil well, adding that the Union would soon engage the management of the IOCs for their assistance in the development of the area.
Present at the ceremony were the executives of the Union headquarters in Orerokpe.