Today January 4th 2013, is the 21st Ogoni Day celebration. It has been twenty years since we adopted this day as Ogoni day. Amongst our demands contained in the Ogoni Bill of Right which was presented to the government in 1990 was the right to use Ogoni resources for Ogoni development, the right to a clean and safe environment, and adequate political representation as of right. Haven presented the Ogoni bill of rights; the Ogonis were met with repression under the military regime of Sani Abacha. The military attacked villages, women were raped, men and children killed, and many other atrocities. Amongst which were the killing of four prominent Ogoni leaders, the then government hanging of the Ogoni martyrs on made up charges, Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others.
Under the military regime, Ogoni people experienced:
· Military occupation
· Extra-judicial executions
· Arbitrary detentions
· Denial of freedom of worship
· Environmental challenges
· And for the first time, Ogonis became refugees in the world of which some are presently.
It has always being the goal of the Ogoni people to see our environment cleaned and restored subsequent to the devastating impact of oil exploration by Shell Multinational Corporation. Part of our aspirations includes the right to use Ogoni resources for the development of Ogoni, and to see Ogoni have a State of its own. This will help alleviate the inadequate political representation Ogonis are facing within the Nigerian State. Our desire also is to see that Ogoni language is preserved and developed, in order to perpetuate our identity without going extinct.
Ogoni needs educational, economic and infrastructural developments, which also forms part of the task we have in front of us. The dilapidated infrastructures in Ogoni prompted the plan to embark on the rehabilitation of some essential units of Bori general hospital with the help of Ogonis in Diaspora; a project that I hope will alleviate in the short term the pains of our people. MOSOP-USA will partner with organizations already working to combat the Aids epidemic in Ogoni.
Part of our immediate concerns is to see Ogonis languishing in refugee camps all over west Africa be given a fresh lease on life by resettlements haven been pushed from their communities for all these years.
Majority of the challenges Ogonis are confronted with can be resolved by the creation of a State, which the rules governing the process makes almost impossible for minorities to get. Regardless of the hurdles and challenges to this process, the Government and the National assembly can create a viable state that will include other communities for Ogoni, understanding the impact and gravity of the plight of the Ogoni people and how devastated the Ogoni environment is. The National Assembly should be able to pass a vote on the creation of Bori State, which also is the best way to ensure the completion of the 30 year remediation process (according to the United Nations Environmental Report –UNEP) of Ogoni environment.
Ogoni has had to go through terrible ordeals, and of immediate concern is our environment for which we have been hopeful that Government after its acknowledgement of the precarious state of Ogoni environment will act. To our disappoint Government’s response has been words and no action so far. While we appreciate those words, now more than ever is the time for action. As a necessary first step to building the people’s confidence in government, government should as a matter of urgency:
1. Protect Ogoni youths and engage them in building the community
2. Stop extra-judicial killings in Ogoni
3. Cessation of forced land acquisitions in Ogoni
4. Effectively implement the UNEP report in accordance with MOSOP-USA’s technical committee’s report on UNEP with stakeholder inputs.
It took almost 20 years for the United Nations to come and do an assessment of Ogoni environment after colossal loss of lives in Ogoni, numerous presentations and campaigns; it should not take the United Nations that long to demand for action. It took even longer for the Nigerian Government to acknowledge some of the wrong done to Ogoni. It does not have to take that long for action. Government should expedite action on the cleanup of Ogoni environment. Now is the time to act.
Fellow Ogonis, we have had some victories, but there remains still a long way to go. Moving forward, we must be our brother’s keeper. We must love ourselves as one Ogoni not as sections. And we must desist from trying to undo each other. We must also put our resources to good use in furthering and achieving our collective aspirations.
Source: National NetworkOGONI/NIGER DELTA NEWS On Facebook. Click here to like US & Follow US on Twitter @huraclub or click here (We will always follow you back) http://forum.huraclub.org/)……………….HURAC