As the Ogoni Indigenous Ethnic Nationality celebrate the 31st anniversary of the World Indigenous Peoples Day, commonly called “Ogoni Day”, I bring you greetings and congratulate our people for these 31 tortuous years of continuous oppression, political marginalization and economic strangulation. Although bleeding and battered, you have courageously move on and hoping to have a better day again. Thanks to friends and organizations all over the world that have consistently supported their nonviolent struggle and campaigns for a better environment and development of their God given territory.
Today is another day I will like the Ogoni people to soberly reflect on their journey, their well-being and the numerous painful sacrifices made so far. I will like the Ogoni to ask themselves why they embarked on this costly struggle? Why the uncountable arrests, harassments, torture, denials and even deaths? Why was Ken Saro=Wiwa and other leaders of Ogoni murdered by the Federal Government of Nigeria in collaboration with the oil companies? What have we achieved as a people from the sacrifices made so far? Of all the legitimate demands enshrined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights and submitted to the Government of Nigeria in 1990, which one has been acceded to?
Looking back at recent developments and happenings in Ogoni, we seem to be like a people looking forward but walking backward. On the political, economic and socio-cultural fronts, we are more divided, unorganized and very uncoordinated than any period in our history. How do we go forward and make progress having five different factions of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), a vehicle that is supposed to take us to our Eldorado? How do we expect any government, groups and organizations to take us seriously when we are not united. How many Presidents preside over a country? How many drivers control a vehicle?
Going forward, we must as a people resolve the issue of leadership, and we must do it now, because we cannot make any meaningful progress in a situation where five different persons lay claim to being the President of MOSOP. We have to start from here and every other thing will fall in place including the most important decision of selecting who leads us politically and by extension, traditionally.
Of recent, Ogoni has been in news on claims that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) released three hundred million United States dollar ($300,000,000) to yet to be identified person for Ogoni development. Another, is a report where few persons from one of the five different factions of MOSOP were seeing begging the oil companies and the Government to come and resume oil production in Ogoniland. My question is, who should be begging who on resumption of oil production? Looking at what the government of Nigeria and the oil companies did and continue to do to Ogoni people, is it not shameful for any Ogoni to go out there and beg a system that destroyed your environment and murdered the very people you claim you represent to return to your land without any discussion on the ongoing struggle and the legitimate demands? Why look so cheap and beggarly before the oppressors? This is surely not the Ogoni I know, where is our dignity that people all over the world respect Ogoni for?
While congratulating Barrister Ledum Mitee on his recent appointment into the Board of the NNPC, I want to use this opportunity to ask him for two things: –
1) As Board Member, please find out why the sum of three hundred million United States $300,000,000 was given to Ogoni people and who received the money on behalf of Ogoni;
2) As Member, ensure that NNPCL pays her percentage for the ongoing environmental remediation and restoration of livelihoods in Ogoniland. Since the beginning of the clean up exercise, the Federal Government of Nigeria is yet to contribute one kobo into that account.
3) I once again call upon the Executive Governor of River of Rivers State to immediately set up a panel of inquiry to look into that issue concerning payment of $300, 000,000 meant for Ogoni development and establish who received the money on behalf of Ogoni people.
4) And I hope and pray that this appointment is not a Greek gift!
Finally, I call on the President of Nigeria, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to compel Nigeria Customs to immediately and unconditionally release the Ken Saro-Wiwa Memorial Bus-an art work without an engine and tyres that was confiscated by Colonel Ahmed Ali, immediate past Custom Boss and a member of the Kangaroo Military Tribunal that sentenced Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni Leaders to death in October 1995. He kept this memorial bus in disobedience to a valid court judgement in favour of the Ogoni people and also recommendations of the National Assembly that ordered unconditional release of this Art work.
I also call upon the President to urgently look into the unaddressed issues canvassed by the Ogoni people in their nonviolent struggle which he himself was part of. Mr President should remember that in 1999 when Nigeria returned to full blown democracy, only two issues were plaguing Nigeria-June 12 and the Ogoni imbroglio. June 12 has been perfectly settled by the last President Buhari led administration. We now have a public holiday on June 12 and the late MKO Abiola honoured with the highest recognition in the land. Ogoni issues remain un addressed!
Let the regime of “Renewed Hope” be extended to the oppressed, environmentally devastated, politically marginalized and economically disempowered Ogoni people.
Gbene Ogoni…..Buen Ka
Gbene Ogoni……Buen Zor
Gbene Ogoni…….Ka alene Bari
Peoples Advancement Centre