Okuama: Urhobo group raises hope, donates relief materials

The Urhobo Historical Society (UHS), United States of America (USA), has donated relief materials to distressed returnees of the destroyed Okuama community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

UHS is a body of Urhobo elites and intellectuals said to be committed to preserving the history and culture of the Urhobo people worldwide.

Recall that the community fell into the hands of rampaging soldiers of the Nigerian Army on reprisal after losing 17 of their officers and soldiers to some gun-totting marauders on March 14, 2024, during a purported peace mission.

Following the forceful occupation and ransacking of the community by the soldiers for 51 days and their subsequent withdrawal last week, displaced aborigines began to return to their wasteland for reconstruction and resettlement.

Relief items donated to the returnees to start life anew on Wednesday included basic food items, cooking utensils, cutlery, toiletries, and clothing, among others.

The donor body urged other individuals and organisations to join the Okuama restoration task, averring that it was too enormous to be left for government and community indigenes alone.

President of the UHS, Dr Aruegodore Oyiborhoro, presented the items at the Iwhre-Okpe Waterside through an interface, Egufe Yafugborhi, enroute boat conveyance to Okuama.

He noted that the choice of items delivered was based on the feedback from the people, who are apparently in acute need.

“The story of Okuama is known to the world. No need to retell it here.

“With their homes completely wiped out, the community made a wasteland. The feedback we got meant the UHS had to buy items as basic as cutlery, toothbrushes, pastes, cooking pots, plates, clothing, toiletries, rice, beans, garri, salt, and sundry other basic food items.

“The case of the Okuama people is the clear definition of starting from scratch with not even a piece to pick up from in the task of rehabilitation and resettlement.

“That is why this little effort by the UHS is not to prove any point but to tell the whole world that Okuama needs a great deal of help.

“We call on individuals and organisations to join the Okuama people and government to assist in rebuilding their lives.

“Okuama cannot go into extinction. From our assessment of their plight, the people also need security as they are so vulnerable at the moment, bearing in mind the experience on their first day of returning home.

“Hopefully, they will gradually find their feet again,” Dr. Oyiborhoro, who addressed journalists during the delivery, asserted.

Receiving the items on behalf of the community, Mr. Jacob Akemor, an Okuama from the diaspora, expressed gratitude to the donors.

He said, “We can’t thank the UHS enough. Earlier, while the many displaced folks were rudderless and suffering in creek hideouts, a prominent member among the predominantly US-based leaders of the society, Michael Egi, had sent relief.

“As we return home following the military withdrawal from our land, UHS becomes the first donor to send relief materials.

“We are grateful, as the goodwill gives us much hope to pull through these challenging times.

“Right now, save for the Anglican Church, the only structure left standing in which every returnee is cramped, we have no shelter, no water to drink, no food, no clothes. Nothing.

“Our spirit is lifted with the UHS gesture, and we want others to emulate their effort to help us out.”



Tribune Online