The story of the Ogoni is not new. A well known and established case of state repression against civil rights. A rather pathetic story of a people repressed by their own government, dehumanized by those who should protect them, a repression backed by the unethical global giant – The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, an affiliate of Shell International. As lethal and ruthless as the Ogoni repression has been, the good news is that the people have resolved to sustain it for the good of all. It is a resolve to live and not give up to the desires of the Nigerian oppressors who seek to kill and cover up their evil against the Ogoni.
Ogoni has become a metaphor for millions of oppressed people around the world who are denied access to decent living, oppressed by strong governments and systems that does not guarantee basic freedom and denied even the right to free expression.
In Ogoni, protests have to be made to get drinkable water, electricity, health care, and even to live a dignified life. In Nigeria of 36 states predominantly shared among the larger ethnic groups of Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and the Ibo, the Ogoni are denied the right to decide their own future in their own state yet, the resources generated from Ogoni is more than what 20 Nigerian states can generate within a period.
The Nigerian government has overtime subjected the Ogoni to conditions that assures a bleak future. These crimes must be brought to the fore. The conscience of the world must be awakened to the crimes of Shell and Nigeria against the Ogoni people. A people with such amount of wealth as the Ogoni cannot beg for drinkable water, electricity, decent environment, good living conditions, self respect and dignity.
Nigeria must show respect for the Ogoni people by granting the rights to self determination which is enjoyed by all major ethnic groups in the country. Ogonis must have a right to chat the course of their own future, take responsibility for their environment and become dignified as a people.
Ogoni is undoubtedly the shame of Nigeria placing a huge burden on Nigeria’s claim to modern civilization. And the country, called Nigeria, must address this issue if she will not perpetually be confronted by her wicked past against her own citizens.
Nigeria risks loosing her own dignity for as long as she seeks to rhetorically evade fundamental questions of Ogoni self determination.
Author: Fegalo Nsuke is Publicity Secretary of The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni people (MOSOP).