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How Technology is Pumping up Business in 2021: 3D Offices, 4G on the Moon, Gamification of Everything, and 6 More Hot Trends

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Gamification of Everything

Research firm Wunderman Thompson Intelligence has released its 2021 trends report.

The report contains 100 predictions about how technology will affect different areas of life and business: culture, commerce, sports (for example, how the best online sports betting apps will change), and others. We have selected the most interesting of them – let’s see how the world has changed and will change this year.

A Revolution in the Gaming Industry and the Rise of Cloud Gaming

The consumer gaming industry is growing rapidly – the market is expected to reach $198 billion by 2024, and that’s not including sales of augmented and virtual reality hardware. Digital games are beginning to be used at events and concerts as an element of audience engagement. Traditional gaming spaces are turning into places where people can gather and communicate remotely, including solving business issues.

For example, Unconventional launched in 2020 as a virtual event space with 3D participant avatars and game worlds, and it now has 50,000 users. It is widely used, from business meetings to birthday parties. Since offline events are inaccessible because of the pandemic, people have developed a demand for online events that involve unique user experiences they previously had in games.

Games could change the world over the next decade and become the dominant technology platforms as social media used to be.

Meanwhile, big companies are betting on cloud gaming. For example, Facebook has added cloud games to its gaming platform, and China’s Tencent (the developer of the messenger WeChat) has teamed up with telecommunications company Huawei to develop its own cloud gaming platform.

Tech companies are investing in cloud-based streaming games because they are the future: It is more convenient for users to access the game on-demand and from any device. Companies save on deploying their own infrastructure to host gaming applications.

Virtual Sports and Gamified Fitness

In 2020, due to the pandemic, many sports competitions were cancelled and live sports events disappeared, which led to the convergence of real and virtual sports with cybersports.

For example, racers were already using simulators to train, now brands are entering the market with solutions for virtual races in which amateurs can participate. Aston Martin released a $76,300 AMR-C01 racing simulator in September.

Zwift, an online cycling and running training platform, held the first Tour de France international cycling race in virtual mode. Professional and amateur athletes participated. Athletes competed for prizes, while amateurs were able to compare their strengths with the professionals by competing with them on the same courses.

And Adidas released a smart sneaker insole that records physical data while playing real soccer: the number and strength of kicks, running speed, and so on. These stats can be uploaded to the EA Sports FIFA Mobile game and compare your results with other players.

In 2021, this trend will continue and traditional sports will continue to merge with virtual sports.

Fitness, too, is moving from the real world to the virtual. In April 2020, Oculus and Within released a new VR fitness app, Supernatural. It provides users with personalized virtual workouts surrounded by stunning scenery.

The Future of Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality (MR) is the union of virtual and real worlds. Virtual objects are added to the world around you that look like the real world. For example, a virtual painting on a real wall in a room is a mixed reality.

Adaptability and ease of use have made mixed reality a new trend in the gaming industry. Virtual reality (VR) equipment is expensive and cumbersome, and augmented reality (AR) is dependent on mobile devices. According to Mordor Intelligence, the mixed reality market was valued at $382.6 million in 2019 and will grow further.

In October 2020, Nintendo released a new game called Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. Participants in the game compete on remote-controlled cars inside their homes, interacting with elements of the virtual and real worlds.

Indian telecommunications giant Reliance Jio announced Jio Glass mixed reality glasses, and Facebook and Google have already invested in the company. Judging by the patents filed, a similar device will soon be released by Apple.

Mixed reality is an attractive solution for enhancing the user experience. It may soon be used in most entertainment spaces and events.

Contactless Air Travel

Airlines and airports are adopting contactless ways to interact with passengers wherever possible. They’re aiming for passengers to use mobile apps instead of publicly available touchpads and contact airport staff. This avoids queues and crowds.

For example, more companies have begun sending advance notice of flight delays or cancellations, introduced contactless check-in and luggage tag printing, and implemented meal pre-ordering and online payment. And some airports are introducing a system that allows boarding passes to be scanned at a distance of more than 1.5 meters.

Companies are also thinking about places on the plane where you can’t do completely without touching, such as restrooms and in-flight entertainment systems. There aren’t any innovations yet, but designers are trying to rethink these approaches and keep the number of touches to a minimum.

Technology Conquers Space

The leading technology brands are beginning to explore space. NASA and Nokia are planning to deploy a 4G network on the Moon. This will improve data transmission and help astronauts control moonwalkers, navigate in space, and broadcast video in real-time.

Cloud technology is also moving beyond our planet. Analysts predict that by the end of the decade, total revenue from space-related cloud services could be about $15 billion. New cloud computing services can be deployed using low-orbit spacecraft and traditional satellites.

Virtual Offices Instead of Real Offices

Remote working is becoming the norm. Many companies are rethinking this work format, offering new and unusual solutions.

For example, Dropbox announced that it is now becoming virtual-first, meaning that it is primarily focused on virtual workspaces and is abandoning its real offices. This is unusual because the company signed the largest lease in San Francisco history in 2017, and will now rent out the space itself.

Other companies are creating virtual offices where employees can walk around familiar spaces, attend meetings and just gather for coffee and conversation.

In April 2020, Sine Wave Entertainment launched Breakroom, a virtual world product for remote workplaces that provides 3D offices for companies such as Virgin Group and Torque Esports. Italian energy company Enel gathers employees as avatars in virtual meeting rooms using a combination of augmented and virtual reality technology.

Experts believe that the time of large offline offices is a thing of the past, the time of distributed work is coming.

The Virtualization of Stores Continues

Digital fashion and virtual closets are one of the trends gaining popularity. For example, digital virtualization allows fashion houses to showcase their collections, and brands can create virtual spaces with unique designs.

Virtual fashion house The Fabricant creates unique designs that exist only digitally. Using 3D modelling, they design outfits for customer avatars that can only be worn in digital environments such as games or social media.

Also, the pandemic has led to fewer visitors at car dealerships, so innovative companies are changing the car-buying process by making it easier to choose online.

Buyers of Volkswagen Australia can visit a virtual showroom where they can see how a car would look in different conditions, open and close doors, interact with the interior and, of course, make a purchase. Ford has launched a similar AR service, which allows you to explore the new F-150 car in augmented reality: see it inside and outside, assess how it would look in a parking lot near your home.

Retail continues the transition to online, offering a personalized experience for shoppers who prefer digital technology. Live Commerce is an online sales model where influencers showcase items for sale in real-time. The format has been popular in Asian markets for several years and is now experiencing a global boom. This format now sells everything from doorbells to makeup products.

In June 2020, Canadian e-commerce platform Livescale announced a partnership with Shopify, a popular e-commerce platform in North America. According to Livescale, the number of business inquiries has increased fivefold since March 2020.

The Emergence of Stores Without Shoppers

Retailers are shifting to a store format without shoppers. Such outlets are being served by online retailers. In September 2020, Whole Foods Market opened a store in New York City that is closed to the public. It is for delivery and pickup only. Walmart is repurposing four of its U.S. stores for e-commerce. Other chains are adopting similar solutions.

Those retailers who are still serving customers are challenged by people’s desire to limit contact when they buy. That’s why contactless technology will be developed to simplify the choice of goods.

For example, cosmetics stores already offer customers virtual makeup: mirrors allow them to “try on” lipstick, and artificial intelligence will help pick out shadows that best match the shade of the buyer’s skin.

Developments in Delivery Technology and Electric Transportation

Thanks to the growth of e-commerce in 2020, the delivery industry has also seen rapid growth. According to a study by the World Economic Forum, the growth in e-commerce demand will lead to a 36% increase in delivery vehicles in the world’s 100 largest cities by 2030.

The Consumer Electronics Show was held in January 2021, where companies showcased their new developments in delivery:

  • Skyward and UPS Flight Forward organized drone delivery.
  • Cenntro Automotive Group unveiled the CityPorter electric vehicle, which is designed to drive around town and deliver goods to customers.
  • General Motors has launched a new business line for delivery, BrightDrop. It is an entire ecosystem of electric vehicles, through which companies can reduce costs and be more environmentally friendly. The first customer is FedEx Delivery Service, which will get BrightDrop EV600 electric vans in late 2021.
  • FedEx Express CEO Richard Smith said the pandemic has greatly accelerated e-commerce and door-to-door delivery. He believes the sector will continue to grow and by 2023, 100 million parcels a day will be delivered to U.S. residences. Before the pandemic, that growth was projected only by 2026.

There is other evidence that the electric transportation market will grow. For example, in January 2020, the British company Arrival received an order for 10,000 electric vehicles from UPS, and also hopes to receive an $85 million investment from Hyundai to develop production. And in December 2020, U.S.-based Canoo published plans for an “all-electric multi-purpose delivery vehicle,” expected to be released in 2023.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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International Youth Day 2022 and Nigerian Youth Ordeals

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International Youth Day

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

Friday, August 12, 2022, is a very important date in the global calendar. It is a day that the global community sets aside to celebrate this year’s International Youth Day. The important purpose of this annual celebration, going to information from the United Nations (UN), is to among other things raise voices against any injustice or discrimination happening in the world against the youth. Again, going by available records, International Youth Day was recognized by the United Nations when they passed a resolution towards creating it in 1999 at the United Nations General Assembly. This day came into existence with the recommendation of the World Conference of Ministers and they are responsible for 12th August being declared as International Youth Day.

Essentially, there was a need for this day because a very large amount of youth in the world are struggling with issues related to physical or mental health, education and employment and thus all these issues need to be addressed. When the government or society does not focus on the proper development of the youth, they tend to become rebellious and many times they can opt for the choices which are neither good for their development nor for their country.

Certainly, the global community uses workshops, concerts, conferences, cultural events, seminars and meetings involving national and local government officials and youth organizations to celebrate the day while recognizing the contributions of young people and volunteers who are working towards the betterment of the society and are raising important issues that need more attention of the society, there are, however, painful signs that the situation back here in the country says instead of celebrating, the average Nigerian youth is currently in a state of frustration.

From commentaries, the frustration of these young victims of our nation’s socioeconomic challenge was not only fuelled by the gap between the extravagant promises made in the past by the government without fulfilment but predicated on the ills that flow from bad leadership which daily manifests in the tradition of leading without recourse to transparency and accountability. And as a consequence, ‘stifles development, siphons all scarce resources that could improve infrastructure, bolster education systems and strengthen public health and stack the deck against the poor masses.

To explain this position, a recent report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), reveals that in the second-quarter Q2:2020 unemployment rate among young people (15-34 years old) was 34.9%, up from 29.7%, while the rate of underemployment for the same age group rose to 28.2% from 25.7% in Q3, 2018. These rates were the highest when compared to other age groupings. Nigeria’s youth population eligible to work is about 40 million out of which only 14.7 million are fully employed and another 11.2 million are unemployed.

For a better understanding of where this piece is headed, youth in every society, says a study report, has the potential to stimulate economic growth, social progress and our all-national development. The strategic role of youths in the development of different societies of the world such as Cuba, Libya, China, Russia and Israel is obvious.

Youth unemployment is potentially dangerous as it sends a signal to all segments of Nigerian society. Here in Nigeria, the rate of youth unemployment is high, even during the period of economic normalcy i.e. the oil boom of the 1970s (6.2%); 1980s (9.8%) and 1990s (11.5%). Youth unemployment, therefore, is not a recent phenomenon. But if what happened in the 1980s/90s was a challenge of sorts, what is happening presently, going by the latest report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), is a challenge. This and many other concerns have expectedly caused divided opinion and a proliferation of solutions.

From the above, it is obvious that ‘we are in a dire state of strait because unemployment has diverse implications. Security-wise, the large unemployed youth population is a threat to the security of the few that are employed. Any transformation agenda that does not have job creation at the centre of its programme will take us nowhere.’

From unemployment challenges to the poor education sector, it is accurately documented that many Nigerian children are out of school not because they are not willing to be educated but because the cost of education is beyond the reach of their parents. The public schools are short of teachers with dilapidated buildings. Private schools on the other hand where the environment is conducive to learning are cost-intensive and out of reach of so many students and their parents.

In like manner, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike since February 14, 2022. The group embarked on such industrial action to protest the government’s inability to implement their demands on salaries and allowances of lecturers, and improved funding for universities.

The implication is that for the past six months and counting, these youths have been idling away at home and the Federal Government has not considered the damage such failures impose on this future strength of the nation that their generation will provide the next leaders.

Now, looking at the above painful account, and considering the fact that the nation Nigeria races to the 2023 general election, the question(s) may be asked; how far can the youth go in a nation where tribal loyalty is stronger than our common sense of nationhood?  Can the youth effectively guard their courage? How far can the youths go as change agents in a country where excruciating poverty and starvation continue to drive more people into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders them insensible to all feelings of decency and self-respect? Or in a society where the majority of the youths can easily be induced to work across purpose and in a political space where a high density of the youth’s population resides in various villages with no access to information or livelihood? Can they truly create any impact? Or remain united for a very long time.

While the answer(s) to these questions is being awaited, the truth must be told to the effect that to make this year’s world youth day rewarding as well as change this trend, and achieve the objective of engaging youth in formal political mechanisms, increase the fairness of political processes by reducing democratic deficits, contributes to better and more sustainable policies which have symbolic importance that can further contribute to restoring trust in public institutions, especially among youth, there are inescapable actions that the youths must take, there are steps/action plans that Nigerian youths must execute.

Separate from constructively and sustainably engaging the Federal Government, It will not in any way be described as out of place if the youths harness their population advantage and their demographic dividends to form a formidable opposition that holds the government accountable or better still seek political offices come 2023 general election.

Supporting this position is Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution adopted from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948) which gives everyone the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The youth must also access the power of the press as Section 22 stipulates that “the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall, at all times, be free to upload the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter [Chapter IV: Fundamental Rights] and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people”, which has been emboldened by the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

It is important that Nigerian youths continue to speak up against violations of human rights, suppression of free speech and freedom of the press. Unlike their elders, youths must not initiate, encourage or spread false, mischievous or divisive information capable, or with outright intent, of misleading the populace and disrupting societal harmony and peace. Within the ambience of the law, they must speak up with facts against any wrongdoing or oppression by the government or fellow citizens capable of endangering sustainable democracy and the effective delivery of good governance.

They (youths) should view as evil the argument by political deconstructionists that Nigerian youths must face difficulties as there is no nation where each has his/her own job and house, and where all children receive as much education as their minds can absorb. This claim is not only ‘rationally inexplicable but morally unjustifiable. It is a fact that government lacks the capacity to fix socioeconomic challenges alone. But any government with goodwill and sincerity to save and serve the people must develop creative and innovative channels to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development, environmental protection and job creation.

Also, Nigerians are in agreement that the law is the supreme instrument of the state which must be respected and no one is above the law. This particular fact, if well understood, will assist the youths to comprehend that as citizens, they are constitutionally eligible to vote and be voted for.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). He can be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374

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Design Mistakes That Make Your House Look Cluttered

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SweepSouth design mistakes

We’d all love our homes to have an inviting, well-put-together look, but there are a few common design mistakes that make a room feel messy and cluttered. Clearing clutter away seems an obvious first step towards a more polished look, but there are other simple decorating tricks that will bring order to your space, making it more open, organised and tidy.

Not having a dedicated drop zone

We all have that spot in our homes where we put our keys, and our bags, take off our shoes or just drop random things. It’s usually close to the front door or wherever you enter your house from. It’s where you unburden yourself of everything that’s in your hands when you get home. This space can, however, end up being a mess and it makes your house look untidy.

To combat this, allocate the most convenient space to be a drop zone, and put out storage baskets for items such as shoes. Add a table if there’s space and place pretty little containers on top of the table to hold keys, wallets and even letters.

No cable management 

Everyone is guilty of having little to no cable management in certain parts of their home, especially in the living room where there are lots of electronics. Cable management isn’t the most fun thing to do in the world, but if they’re left open and exposed, they can be a massive eyesore.

Cables can be hidden in a number of ways, such as running them along the wall at floor level or through the ceiling or cupboards to keep them out of sight, but it requires expert knowledge to do so and can require extending cables and drilling holes.

Using oversized furniture 

Nothing cramps up a space more than furniture that’s too big. You might want that great coffee table, but the truth is that it’s too big. And if you insist on it, it’s just going to make your home look overcrowded and uncomfortable.

If you already have the furniture, consider selling it online and using the money from that to purchase items that fit the room you need it for. Take measurements before you shop so that you don’t end up buying the incorrect size. Crowding a room with too many bits of furniture can also make it feel disorganised. Cut down on the amount needed by using multi-functional furniture, such as sturdy pouffes that can be used both for seating and as side tables, coffee tables with storage for cables and TV remotes, and mirrors with shelving attached to them.

Keep it fresh

“Unmade beds, dull floors, and a generally dirty space all contribute to making a house look disorganised. Get into a habit of tidying up your space. If you have family living with you, teaching them to clean up after themselves helps. Even better, save yourself time and stress by hiring a vetted, reliable, excellent and affordable cleaner to thoroughly clean your home on a weekly basis,” advises Awazi Angbalaga, Country Manager for a home-cleaning tech company, SweepSouth.

“A home that feels fresh and smells wonderful can instantly improve your mood and mental health, whereas a house with dirty carpets and unattended old furniture usually holds stale, musty odours that feel stifling. You might not even notice it because you’ve lived in the same space for so long but be aware of the way your home feels and smells the moment you step into it after having been outside in the fresh air,” she says. “your rooms can do with a good routine freshening up that includes dusting them from top to bottom, thoroughly cleaning the floors, opening up the windows and washing up dirty bedding. The good thing is that SweepSouth always has the right SweepStar to do the job on your behalf”

If you can’t throw out old furniture or carpets, try these clever tips from the SweepStars who clean Nigerian homes every week through SweepSouth’s service, to banish smells:

  • Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on carpets and couches, let it rest for an hour, then vacuum up every trace of powder

  • Put a ball of cotton wool that’s been dipped into a fresh-smelling essential oil, like lemon or eucalyptus, into the vacuum bag for a fresh smell every time you vacuum

  • Clean hardwood furniture with a polish made from two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice and use a soft cloth to rub it into the wood. You could also use almond oil with a few drops of lemon essential oil sprinkled in, dabbing a bit of the mixture onto a cloth, then rubbing gently into wooden surfaces

Overfilling open shelving 

Open shelving is all the rage, and it looks lovely – when done right. It’s a common mistake to fill open shelves with books, picture frames and all the other objects you can’t find a home for, but this type of storage actually works best when it’s not overcrowded.

Resist the temptation to fill every inch of shelving, and rather space things out. Edit down what you’d like to display and leave open space between some of the items. Put your favourite decor items out, but bear in mind that too many decorative pieces will make it look cluttered.

The same rule applies when you’re styling a coffee or dining room tabletop. Give careful thought to what is visible in the room, especially if it’s a small space. Display only what you love, and make sure not to overfill the table. Group small items together in a shallow bowl or on a tray so that the arrangement stays tidy and keeps small objects from looking lost by elevating them on a stack of two or three books.

Not using vertical space

If you’ve ever mounted your TV on the wall, you will know how much of a difference it makes to space to not have your TV sitting on the cabinet or table. Making use of wall space – vertical space – isn’t good just for small areas, it frees up every room in the house. Put up shelves or hang things from your ceiling to get them off your countertops and floors.

For example, use wall-mounted shelves to arrange books and get rid of the bookshelf taking up some much-needed floor space. Using vertical space makes a huge difference in almost any room.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re decorating your space and your home will feel like a clutter-free oasis.

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Redefining the Role of UPU for the Urhobo People

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Mike Owhoko May Nigeria Never 9th National Assembly

By Michael Owhoko, PhD

The Urhobo is among the first 10 major ethnic groups and the fifth largest in Nigeria, yet, its initial capacity to command considerable influence in the Nigerian polity was weakened by the lack of brotherliness, unity and trust among its people, unarguably, owing to the multiplicity of dialects, as depicted in the 24 kingdoms that make up the nationality.

In an attempt to eliminate this deficit, prevent disunity-induced regression, and raise sustained awareness for unity and trust across the divide, the founding Urhobo leaders came up with a philosophical slogan of Urhobo Ovuovo.

Specifically, the concept of Urhobo Ovuovo was informed by the need to foster unity as a strategy for driving the collective interests and aspirations of the Urhobo people, particularly within the Nigerian space. The concept, which simply means, Urhobo is one, became the major thrust of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), formerly Urhobo Brotherly Society at its formation, in 1931.

Its founding leaders recognized clearly from the outset that without unity among a people, unison and progress might be hampered, prompting them to identify and highlight the dangers of disunity to peace, growth and development in pursuit of the Urhobo vision.

On the strength of this, the leadership of UPU led by Chiefs Omorohwovo Okoro, Mukoro Mowoe and Thomas Erukeme made unity a catalyst and driver in their quest for progress in Urhobo land, as aptly captured in the union’s motto: Unity is Strength.

This was also reflected in the Aims and Objectives of the union’s Constitution, namely: “To foster the spirit of love, mutual understanding and brotherhood among Urhobo people.”  Since then, unity has remained one of the guiding principles in the decision-making process at UPU.

All free-born of Urhobo, irrespective of place of birth and location, are automatic members of UPU. Branches of UPU exist in all corners of the globe, particularly in countries with a significant presence of Urhobos. From Europe to the United Kingdom, Australia, and from America to Asia and the Middle East, UPU is active. All positions held by UPU executives are held in trust for all Urhobos.

Thus, it came as a surprise to many sons and daughters of Urhobo ancestry about the alleged decision of the current national executive of UPU led by Chief Moses Taiga to endorse a particular candidate for the 2023 governorship election in Delta State. Regrettably, up till this moment, the executive is yet to deny the allegation. However, since silence means consent, it is assumed to be true, at least, for now.

By this position, the leadership of UPU is unwittingly laying a foundation for potential cracks in the body of the oldest socio-cultural organization in Nigeria. The endorsement negates and runs contrary to the vision of the founding fathers, as it is not only a recipe for disunity in Urhobo land but capable of encouraging the emergence of parallel bodies or equivalent associations.

The UPU could be likened to a father with members as children. Like children in a family, it is absurd for a father to overtly demonstrate preference or declare support or identify or show love for one over the others. This can permanently put a division in such a family.

Since all gubernatorial contenders in the 2023 general election in Delta State are of Urhobo descent, it was needless for the UPU to have expressed a preference for one candidate over the others, more so, when the outcome will ultimately produce an Urhobo son as a winner. Therefore, in line with the spirit of unity and progress for the Urhobo nation, UPU should have invited all candidates for a counselling meeting premised on peaceful electioneering conduct devoid of violence.

If it was a contest involving Urhobo sons and other ethnic groups, then UPU was obligatory to back its own, as demonstrated by the support given to Chief Daniel Okumagba when he contested as the governorship candidate of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1979. UPU also extended similar backing to Chief Felix Ibru when he ran for the same office under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1993.

It is, therefore, imperative for the national executives of the union to strive at all times not to deviate from the objective of UPU, but focus on issues that can deepen unity and progress in Urhobo land, particularly within the context of emerging challenges.

It must draw from the experience of the founding fathers, who at the time, were confronted with daunting challenges, but overcame them through sheer vision and action plans as they did with the establishment of Urhobo College in 1948 when UPU identified education as a major tool for boosting opportunities and aspirations. This also led to the sponsorship of Messrs Gabriel Ejaife and Ezekiel Igho to universities abroad during the intervening period.

Besides, Urhobo territories straddling other ethnic neighbours that were facing expropriation threats were all reclaimed and regrouped within Urhobo geographical boundaries. Some of these cases involved litigation and these were won and recovered with the support of UPU. There was no true son and daughter of Urhobo who was not proud of these accomplished milestones then.

Even the translation of the Holy Bible into the Urhobo language was part of efforts to advance and strengthen Urhobo unity, which became a source of pride, as it went a long way in defining the Urhobo personality.

The Urhobo nation cannot be insulated from current dynamics and challenges in Nigeria.  UPU must therefore be proactive and respond to these vulnerabilities, particularly those that can potentially hinder development in Urhobo land.

Insecurity is currently a threat.  Fulani herdsmen have become a menace in Urhobo forests and savannas, stalling farming business and creating fear across the land through criminal activities. This is also responsible for the reluctance of Urhobos to come home to invest.  While efforts by UPU in this regard must be acknowledged, it should take further steps through concrete action plans to nip this criminality in the bud.  Urhobo Security Network (USN) and other surveillance groups should be strengthened and equipped to provide intelligence and sundry activities.

Urhobo wealth is outside Urhobo land, partly because of deve (development fees).  UPU should discourage youth from harassing and collecting these levies from potential investors and developers. Monarchs collaborating with youth in this shameful act should be sanctioned. If five per cent of Urhobo wealth can be attracted home for investment, jobs will be available for youth.

Also, UPU should constitute Economic Advisory Council to hold Urhobo Economic Summit annually aimed at identifying opportunities that will promote empowerment and stimulate development in Urhobo land.

The future is science and technology.  While the proposed Mukoro Mowoe University is commendable, it should be STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  Currently, there is under-admission of Urhobo sons and daughters to Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) and Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE).  UPU should sensitize and encourage all secondary schools in Urhobo land to predominantly pattern their syllabus after science to enable them to take advantage of these opportunities.

Also, there is a dearth of qualified artisans in Urhobo land.  UPU should establish technical schools similar to the former Sapele Technical College or Atamakolomi Trade School, where Urhobo youth can acquire vocational skills in carpentry, electricals, automobile engineering, welding, bricklaying, tiling, painting, tailoring, and other artistry works.

Of note is the Urhobo Historical Society (UHS) which was set up to study, research and document Urhobo history and culture, just as the Urhobo Studies Association (USA) was established to promote scholarships pertaining to Urhobo language, literature and culture.  UPU should support these institutions, particularly the USA to drive the study of Urhobo language and literature in universities up to the doctorate level.

Urhobo and her immediate neighbours have common socio-economic challenges and aspirations but are unable to work in unison for this purpose due to the trust gap engendered by domination fear.  This was one of the reasons the Itsekiri opposed the creation of Delta State from the old Delta Province with Warri as capital.  Rather than demonstrate leadership morality, Ibrahim Babangida took advantage of the confusion to appease his wife and in-laws, obviously due to oil benefits, by merging the Anioma region, which was hitherto under Benin Province, with Delta Province, and also made Asaba, an obviously unsuitable location, as capital.  The Anioma region should have rightly been made part of Edo State, not Delta.  UPU should therefore build bridges across its immediate neighbours to restore confidence.

It is therefore imperative that the current roles of UPU should be redefined within these contexts, to reposition Urhobo for the emerging challenges of this 21st century.

Dr Mike Owhoko, Lagos-based journalist and author, can be reached at www.mikeowhoko.com.

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