By Fegalo Nsuke
The situation in Ogoni is very pathetic. Pain, anger, frustration, sicknesses, malnutrition and poverty are dominant with no signs of relief. The memories of state-sponsored persecution live with us and successive governments continue to prosecute the agenda of hatred against the Ogoni.
The people have been underestimated, considered to be small and weak and adjudged incapable of any negative impact on the economy. This contemplation has empowered our tormentors to unleash the most inhuman treatment on the Ogoni.
In a supposed federation of 36 states, the Ogoni do not have a state of their own. The right to self determination enjoyed by the majority ethnic groups in Nigeria is denied the Ogoni. The revenue generated from Ogoni, is more those of 20 states in Nigeria, yet the Ogoni, a distinct people with unique language and culture are not allowed to determine their future in their own state. Ogoni is not cared for, denied every thing enjoyed by the majority ethnic groups in Nigeria and subjected to the most inhuman conditions that assures them of no future. Death is for Nigeria, the sure end of the Ogoni.
In seeking to reclaim their rights, Ogoni leaders in 1990 came up with a historic document, The Ogoni Bill of Rights, which spells out their demands on the Nigerian federation. Nigeria did nothing to address the issues and a series of protests from the Ogoni were to follow.
The protests were targeted at Shell’s racist business practices in Ogoni. Shell’s usual response was to invite the Nigerian security forces whose ruthlessness left the Ogoni with an unending pain. Thousands killed, women rapped, children killed and abused, thousands imprisoned and living conditions only get worse. Ogoni had been battered by a government that should have protected them. The climax was the November 10, 1995 hanging of nine of our leaders including Dr. Barinem Kiobel, Rev. John Kpuinen, Ken Saro-Wia and 6 others.
Convicted by their conscience, the Nigerian government ordered an environmental audit of Ogoniland and on August 4, 2011, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) released the audit report on Ogoni environment.
The UNEP report represented the first major success for the Ogoni as a scientific study by an independent body justifying the complaints of environmental damage leveled against The Shell Petroleum Company. Shell had operated in Ogoni for over 50years and left nothing other than a completely devastated land. The U.N report said the pollution of Ogoniland will take 30 years to cleanup. Prior to this report, Shell had persistently claimed innocence of any wrongdoing in Ogoni.
Over four years later, the Nigerian government is yet to implement the report. The non-implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoniland points the fact that the Nigerian government is indeed committed to the systematic destruction of Ogoni. The government has taken over 30billion dollars worth of oil between 1958 and 1990 and have left oil spills to damage the area without any positive response.
The 30 day ultimatum issued by The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) on January 4, 2016 in Bori, calling for urgent action to implement the Ogoni environmental audit report or face series of mass action has come at the right time. MOSOP has spoken the minds of the Ogoni people. A people with no other alternative but to match against genocide and confront a seemingly insensitive Nigerian government. Ogonis cannot wait to see everyone die before they move to save and secure their future. We have a responsibility to stop the genocide!
With two refineries, two seaports and two power plants in Ogoniland, i am sure the government cannot risk an “occupy campaign” from Ogoni. Ogonis will consider occupying the oil and gas free zone, seaports and refineries endlessly until we are heard. We will come out with our food stuffs, cloths and take over these territories to force the Nigerian government to act now.
The time to act is now. The Nigerian government has to address the Ogoni problem, beginning with the cleanup of the environment.
Author: Fegalo Nsuke is publicity Secretary of The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).