Press Statement - October 31, 2006

UGBAJO ITSEKIRI USA INCORPORATED HOLDS
9TH ANNUAL NATIONAL CONVENTION

Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated, the umbrella organization of all regional Itsekiri associations, in the United States, successfully organized its 9th Annual National Convention, from Friday, September 1, 2006 to Sunday, September 3, 2006 at the New Radisson Hotel, 1601 Biscayne Boulevard - Miami, Florida 33132.

Themed "Rebuilding Iwereland," the convention addressed the need for Rehabilitation of Itsekiri displaced as a result of the 1997 to 2003, Warri Crisis. The deliberations focused on ways to enhance a successful rehabilitation process.

While formally declaring the convention open, Mr. Hector Ayu, National President Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated, told the attendees that despite the success of the association, that there is much more work to be done. He stated that there is a need for Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated to be more proactive in helping to support Itsekiri interests and urged the leadership of regional associations to raise the level of participation of its members in the affairs of their associations, as well as embrace those Itsekiri in the United States who are not associated with the efforts of the associations.

Addressing the theme "Rebuilding Iwereland," Mr. Ayu noted that although the Warri Crisis has abated, members of Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated should not forget that several Itsekiri who were forced out of their homes in the riverine areas and creeks have not been able to return to their homes. He referred to their status as that of refugees and challenged the convention attendees and participants, to consider, strategies to help enhance their rehabilitation. Finally he addressed the need for a closer working relationship with Nigerian-based Itsekiri leadership, and the need for the Itsekiri people to insure that governments play their role in the rehabilitation of displaced Itsekiri people.

In his address the Secretary to the Delta State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan was openly applauded as he revealed his intentions to run for the office of Governor in Delta State, in the upcoming elections.

He emphasized the need for Itsekiri to be more organized in their approach towards the development of the Itsekiri communities and people. In addition Dr. Uduaghan told the convention that the government is not anti Itsekiri.

Barrister Bolatsi Omatseye Dudu, Honorable Commissioner for Special Duties in the Governor's Office, Orientation and Strategy, encouraged the Itsekiri living in the United States, to get involved in the Nigerian affairs, by becoming involved in the Nigerian business community. He said Nigerians in the diaspora, should not be carried away by the belief that Nigeria is shutting down and that things are gloomy.

Also addressing the convention, Dr. Ogbemi Omatete, reported his findings from the South-South People's Assembly North America meeting, held in Dallas Texas. Dr. Omatete, encouraged members of the Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated to continue to get involved in deliberations and issues that affect the state (Delta State). He noted that only through such participations would the voice of the Itsekiri people continue to be heard.

In attendance at the convention were several politicians from Nigeria, among them were, the Secretary to the Delta State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, Dr. Joseph Otumara, Hon. Commissioner for Housing, Government of Delta State, Barrister Bolatsi Omatseye Dudu, Hon. Otimeyin Adams, Hon. Daniel Mayuku, Hon. Misan Ukubeyinje, Hon. Solomon Areyinka and Mr. Val Areyinka,.

Other attendees from Nigeria included Mrs. Victoria Ayu, (mother of Mr. Hector Ayu, National President Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated), Mrs. Alero Aderibigbe, Dr. Andrew Ayu of NNPC, Engineer Omatsuli Tuoyo, Mr. Amaju Pinnick. Attendees and participants from the United Kingdom included Mr. Tayo Adeola, Ms. Elizabeth Ereku, and Mr. and Mrs. Victor Okoro.

Also in attendance were patrons of Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated, Deaconess Comfort Boyo-Pessu and Dr. and Mrs. Oritsegbemi Omatete, Messer's Eyisan Omagbemi and Macaulay E-Nunu. The attendees also included regional associations matrons, Mrs. Roseline Johnson, Matron Oma Itsekiri Colorado and Mrs. Mere Edevbie, matron Oma Iwere Association of Florida.

The convention format included a cocktail and mixer, held on Friday evening and a town-hall meeting, on Saturday, September 2, 2006.

Following the town hall meeting, the convention resolved:

  • That Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated will continue to support and work with Itsekiri leaders and groups in Nigeria, for the development of Itsekiri communities
  • That Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated will work with Itsekiri in Nigeria to rehabilitate the displaced Itsekiri
  • That Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated, will commence the groundwork for the proposed Library project
  • That Ugbajo Itsekiri will hold its tenth Annual national Convention, in Houston Texas, from Friday, August 31, 2007 to Sunday, September 2, 2007.

For additional information, please visit www.itsekiri.org.

Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc.