Below is a transcript of the report, to view a copy of the original click here.


Convention Report

November 24, 2012

From Friday, August 30, 2012 to Sunday, September 2, 2012, Itsekiris from the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Nigeria and other countries gathered at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center, Denver, Colorado, to attend Ugbajo Itsekiri USA, Inc.’s 15th Annual National Convention. Hosted by Oma-Itsekiri Association Colorado, the event opened on Friday evening with a welcome reception, Children, and young adults program, and a forum where candidates for elective offices shared their vision for the organization. On resumption on Saturday morning, participants deliberated on Micro-finance as a means of economically empowering inhabitants of rural communities in the Itsekiri homeland, and to facilitate its habitation; Strategies to insure government involvement in infrastructure development to improve living conditions in these communities; and the importance of the role of education in human capital development. Later that afternoon, a new team of executive members were elected into office. Delegates, attendees and guests were treated to an array of Itsekiri cultural dances and performances during the fundraising/dinner gala on Saturday evening. A sightseeing tour of Denver metropolis and geographical landmarks, followed by a luncheon reception, at the host regional association President’s home on Sunday, September 2, 2012 ended the eventful convention at the mile-high city. 
 
Friday, August 31, 2012
 
The Publicity Secretary of Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc., Mr. Frederick Edegbele, began the proceedings with a welcome address, following an opening prayer by Mrs. Alice Blagoggee. A quiz competition, moderated by Mrs. Ete Ekwejunor-Etchie for children between the ages of 5 and 13 years followed. These kids raised far away from Itsekiri homeland were tested on their knowledge of aspects of Itsekiri language and culture. As part of the children’s program, the names of the essayists who participated in the writing contest to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the coronation of His Majesty Ogiame Atuwase II, CON, The Olu of Warri, were announced. They were:
 
 
  • Lucy Orode Bankole, Queens, NY
  • Yone Edegbele, Omaha, NE
  • Fredrick Edo-Okuonghae, Houston, TX
  • Oritsetimeyin Inweh, Newark, NJ
  • Mary Modokpeayetoritsetsegbemi Nanna, Newark, NJ
  • Itse Oliomereyon Omasan, Bronx, NY
  • Ayeoritse Orighoye Omasan, Bronx, NY
Misses Nanna and Edegbele were adjudged winners of the Elementary/Middle School and High School categories, respectively, and received the top prizes and citations. Other participants were also awarded prizes. Yone Edegbele delighted the audience by reading her work titled “One Language, One Heritage, One People.”
 
In continuation of efforts to attract the involvement of youths in Ugbajo’s forum, Mr. Olamide Fadairo spoke on Ugbajo Youth Connect (UYC) as a platform for interaction and a medium for tangible change in Itsekiri youths. During a visit to Nigeria, UYC members, Ofe and Utieyin Ekwejunor-Etchie, organized a summer, reading and activities program for children ages 7 – 11 years old at the Ubeji Baptist Church, Ubeji, Delta State. Ofe and Utieyin gave a presentation on their trip during which they provided some school supplies to the kids, and assisted them with reading, writing, and mathematics tutorials. They expressed humility at the experience and exposure to the reality of life in a typical Itsekiri rural community. They indicated they were enriched by the opportunity to interact with, and learn from the kids they met in the course of their visit. The young adult session concluded with an interactive discussion on the question: “Why isn’t Itsekiri language spoken at home?” Led by Bawo Ayomike Jr., the question provoked reactions from young adult Itsekiris raised abroad as to the negligible or total absence of Itsekiri language and culture in their formative years. In conclusion, the youths expressed interest in Itsekiri language and culture with commitment from parents to correct the past, and connect our youths to the language and culture. 
 
The successful evening wrapped up with statements by the following candidates for elective positions and some questions from the audience. 
 
Dr. Fabian Oritsebemigho Iwere; Messrs. Ellis Toritseju Buwa, E. Weyinmi Eyeguokan, and Skelly Joe; Mr. Mogbeyiteren Mewe Pirah; Mr. Lucky Omire Mayor; Mrs. Rebecca Isa and Mr. Babatunde Johnson.
 
Saturday, September 1, 2012

The session began with a request for a moment of silence for departed members and a prayer by Mrs. Mere Edevbie. In his remarks, President of Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc., Mr. Bawo Ayomike, announced the transitions that had occurred since the last convention. The transitions included that of his most cherished wife, Betty Jean (Stoddard) Ayomike, Pa. Michael Jimoh Kubeyinje, a former civil commissioner in the former Bendel State, Nigeria, and Patron of Oma-Iwere Itsekiri Organization, NY-NJ and Mr. Clement Odumu, a former member of Itsekiri National Association of the Washington-Baltimore CMSA Inc., and also former Vice President of Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc. In his presentation, Mr. Ayomike highlighted the focus of the organization on providing infrastructure to ease living conditions in Itsekiri homeland over the last four years, drawing attention to the completion of water projects in Aja-Igba, Orugbo, Jakpa and the initiation of a fourth in Aja-Amita at a cost of nearly $100,000.00. He reported that an additional $100,000 had also been set aside to construct water projects in two more communities along the Benin River, as well as pilot an economic empowerment project in Ogheye, and called on other individuals and groups to emulate the efforts of the organization. In concluding, he pointed out that despite the enormity of the needs of our communities, Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc. must continue to strive to provide support and become strident advocates. He stated, “As we strive to become more proficient in raising funds for our efforts, we must push for equitable expenditure of development resources for our homeland.” Finally, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to lead and serve with other members of the executive committee and the cooperation his team received from other members of the Board of Directors. He requested the entire membership of the organization to extend similar support and cooperation to incoming executive committee members.
 
New members of the Warri Council of Chiefs whose presence were announced were Chiefs Otimeyin Adams, Willy Edema-Ofoni, and Thomas Ereyitomi. Also in attendance was Honorable Misan Kubeyinje, Delta State Commissioner for Agriculture.
 
Reporting the increasing popularity of the Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc., Academic Scholarship Program, which attracted almost 300 applicants, 160 examinees and 40 finalists, Mrs. Roseanne Amoruwa, Vice President of Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc., announced the following undergraduates, from stated disciplines and colleges, as recipients in 2012.
 
Arts, Humanities, and Law
 
 
  • Miss Okotie, Oritseghoeyigbemi A., Theater Art, University of Benin, Benin City, 300 Level
  • Mr. Saniyo, Jolomi Steve, English & Literature Studies, Delta State University, Abraka, 400 Level
  • Miss Egharejimi, Oritsetsolugbemi, Linguistic & Communication Studies Delta State University, Abraka, 200 Level
  • Mr. Uyebi, Gbubemi, Theatre Arts, Delta State University, Abraka, 200 Level

Biological, Life and Medical Sciences

  • Miss Okome, Toritseju Rosemary, Medicine & Surgery, Delta State University, Abraka, 500 Level
Engineering and Physical Sciences
 
 
  • Mr. Timeyin, Omatseye Divine, Chemical Engineering, Delta State University, Abraka, 300 Level
  • Mr. Okotie, Eyewu Diamond, Petroleum Engineering, University of Benin, Benin City, 500 Level
  • Mr. Akra, Wilson Blessing, Mathematics Education, University of Benin, Benin City, 100 Level
Social and Management Sciences
 
  • Mr. Metebanghanfor, Morrison, Political Science, Delta State University, Abraka, 100 Level
  • Mr. Efejuku, Omasanjuwa Victor, Mathematics & Economics, University of Benin, 200 Level

Next, Messrs Fred Edegbele and Toju Ekwejunor-Etchie presented an overview of the subject of micro-finance and its usefulness as a tool for economic empowerment, in leading the discussion of the key challenges to understand as the organization looked to pilot a program in the Itsekiri homeland. Potential problems that could prove inimical to such program were identified as:

  • Remoteness and environmental challenges of coastal communities
  • Trust and Integrity – loans/credit facilities often seen as a hand out with no expectation of repayment
  • Lack of work ethic and appetite for immediate gratification
  • Lack of business plan, proper management of selection process as well monitoring implementation
  • Poor credit collateral/security control
  • Corruption, and Insider abuse
  • Inadequate funding and paucity of funds
The following propositions were made to obviate and/or mitigate these problems:
 
  • Conduct proper evaluation and feasibility study to establish model business plan of action that outlines target groups/occupations to be served
  • Establish relationship with intermediary financial institution to secure transaction with proper collaterals
  • Monitor disbursement of credit to ensure goals of program are achievable
  • Target inexpensive practical projects with immediate impact on the lives of beneficiaries
  • Organize fund-raising in Nigeria as a source of funds to implement program
  • Encourage resourceful individual(s) to engage in micro-finance activities
A session, moderated by Messrs Goddey Ejuwa and Dare Mabiaku, was devoted to identifying useful communication strategies to successfully engage governments to enhance infrastructure development.
 
Contributing to the session, Chief Otimeyin Adams, the Director of Special Projects, Delta State, itemized on-going road projects in Itsekiri areas as follows: 
 
  1. Koko – Ogheye – a federal project to link Ologbo community
  2. Trans Warri - Ode-Itsekiri to link up ten Itsekiri communities including Ubeji, Ugbodede, Orugbo, Inorin
  3. Internal road network in Ode-Itsekiri initially projected for five but now increased to seven kilometers with completion date for April, 2013
  4. Sapele - Abi-Ugborodo Road
While appreciative of government’s good intentions in locating projects in Itsekiri communities, concerns were expressed as to the quality and durability of completed road projects. It was recommended that contracts for award of road projects should be made to contractors with proven records of accomplishment.
 
The following solutions were proposed:
 
  • Appeal to Itsekiris in government to intimate Governor Uduaghan of the urgent need to leave behind a lasting legacy in terms of the impact of his administration on Itsekiri homeland
  • Urge government to embark on infrastructures and economic empowerment programs that can address rural-urban migration but also help to re-populate abandoned Itsekiri communities
  • Redress continuing injustice to Itsekiris by reinstating Ogidigben as headquarter of Warri-South West Local Government as lawfully created. This is a vital step towards bringing development to Ugborodo communities
  • Address the inequitable relationship between oil companies operating in Ugborodo and their host, particularly in the area of employment policies that favor outside groups to the detriment of Itsekiri communities
  • Canvas establishment of legal defense fund devoted exclusively to addressing the relationship of Chevron and other oil companies, as well as the debilitating effect of oil exploitation on Itsekiri communities and their means of sustenance
 
The session on Education, moderated by Toju Ekwejunor-Etchie brought to the fore, the unsavory state of education in Itsekiri homeland. Where it exists, it was reported that there were no pupils to fill classrooms in schools in Itsekiri rural communities. The situation is blame on the aftermath of the Warri crisis, the desolation of these communities, and the deplorable state of classroom and facilities. As solutions to the issues raised, the following suggestions were made:
 
  • Target projects to facilitate resettlement in abandoned Itsekiris communities
  • Offer free lunch in select schools as inducement to encourage school attendance
  • Focus on rural schools to identify students with real need of financial assistance
  • Encourage regional association of Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc. to adopt schools, classrooms, science laboratory, teachers’ quarters, etc., as projects
 
At the end of the deliberative sessions, Mr. Ayomike announced that the term of the executive committee had ended and called on Messrs Hector Ayu and Eyisan Omagbemi, acting as electoral officers, to conduct elections to the vacated positions. Nominations were duly made and seconded and the following were elected and sworn into office:
 
President – Dr.Fabian Oritsebemigho Iwere 
Vice-President – E. Weyinmi Eyeguokan
Secretary – Mogbeyiteren Mewe Pirah 
Assistant Secretary – Toritseju Ellis Buwa 
Treasurer – Pius Utieyintsola Efejuku 
Financial Secretary – Lucky Omire Mayor
Publicity Secretary – Rebecca Isa 
 
A Banquet/Fundraising dinner anchored the convention on Saturday evening. The event featured cultural displays. In addition, in appreciation of their exemplary services, financial support, contributions, and positive impact on Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc.’s activities over the years, the following families and individuals were recognized and presented with plaques:
 
The Edegbele family represented by Oritsebemigho, Frederick, and Ukenyinde Edegbele; Mogbeyiteren Omatete; Dr. and Mrs. Cecilia Omatete; Pius Efejuku; Mr. and Mrs. Diare and Doris Mabiaku; and Dr. and Mrs. Omatsola and Dotu Etchie.
 
At a subsequent Board of Directors meeting, the convention was adjudged successful in terms of attendance, quality of participation and discussion, as well as the goals it accomplished. The Board expressed appreciation for the leadership and selfless service of the outgoing executive, and Oma-Itsekiri Association Colorado for their dedication and hard work which culminated in a successful convention.
 
The Board of Directors also announced that Uranran Iwere, Atlanta, GA, would host the 16th Annual National Convention, from Friday, August 30, 2013 to Monday, September 2, 2013.

Below is a transcript of the communiquè, to view a copy of the original click here.


Communiquè

November 24, 2012

Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated, Washington, DC, successfully hosted its 15th Annual National Convention at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center, Denver, Colorado, from Friday, August 31, 2012 to Monday, September 3, 2012.
 
In affirmation of its stance that the Itsekiri homeland is the most valuable resource to Itsekiri, the convention continued the trend of identifying initiatives to engender habitation and development of this resource.
 
While continuing its effort to provide basic infrastructure like portable water, Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc. will pilot a micro-financing program in the rural community as an economic empowerment tool. The organization appeals to public office holders and the goodwill of others in the private sector to inject necessary investment to reverse the desolation in our communities.
 
Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc. awarded scholarships to the following students for the current session:
 
  • Miss Okotie, Oritseghoeyigbemi A., Theater Art, University of Benin, Benin City, 300 Level
  • Mr. Saniyo, Jolomi Steve, English & Literature Studies, Delta State University, Abraka, 400 Level
  • Miss Egharejimi, Oritsetsolugbemi, Linguistic & Communication Studies Delta State University, Abraka, 200 Level
  • Mr. Uyebi, Gbubemi, Theatre Arts, Delta State University, Abraka, 200 Level
  • Miss Okome, Toritseju Rosemary, Medicine & Surgery, Delta State University, Abraka, 500 Level
  • Mr. Okotie, Eyewu Diamond, Petroleum Engineering, University of Benin, Benin City, 500 Level
  • Mr. Timeyin, Omatseye Divine, Chemical Engineering, Delta State University, Abraka, 300 Level
  • Mr. Akra, Wilson Blessing, Mathematics Education, University of Benin, Benin City, 100 Level
  • Mr. Metebanghanfor, Morrison, Political Science, Delta State University, Abraka, 100 Level
  • Mr. Efejuku, Omasanjuwa Victor, Mathematics & Economics, University of Benin, 200 Level

At the deliberative sessions on September 1, 2012, new executive committee members were elected, and sworn into office for the next two-year term as follows:

President – Dr. Fabian Ortisebemigho Iwere
Vice-President – E. Weyinmi Eyeguokan
Secretary – Mogbeyiteren Mewe Pirah
Assistant Secretary – Toritseju Ellis Buwa
Treasurer – Pius Utieyintsola Efejuku
Financial Secretary – Lucky Omire Mayor
Publicity Secretary – Rebecca Isa

Uranran Iwere, Atlanta, GA will host Ugbajo’s 16th Annual National Convention from Friday, August 30, 2013 to Monday, September 2, 2013.