Ogoni fares worst in 53 years of Nigeria’s independenceArticles/Opinion Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
By Ben Ikari
At the 53rd year of Nigeria’s independence obtained without the informed consent or approval of most pre-colonial independent nations that formed it at gunpoint, thus illegally on Oct. 1, 1960. Ogoni is obviously worst and its environment and people are further threatened despite their sacrifices of human and natural mineral resources of oil and gas, which the country has usurped for more than 35 years with nothing to show for such huge contribution.
No thanks to the British colonialists. In short, the British government and people owe Ogoni unreserved apology, even compensation for illegally invading and destroying the Ogoni freedom leading to more than 100 years of oppression, suffering and avoidable deaths. That is from 1901 up to 1905 when British invasion gained root in Ogoni to date and under Nigeria, which inherited the mechanism of colonization. The people of Ogoni should have been better in their pre-colonial state because they will have joined the new world without such unholy, deadly and illegal invasion.
Ironically too, under the current Nigerian government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who is the first Niger deltan to become president, Ogoni has no basic necessities such as clean pipe-borne water and electricity, access road and functional schools, healthcare and recreational facilities. What Ogonis are forced to drink as alternative to clean water is benzene and other cancer-related, toxically damaging and deadly substances. There is no job nor is there a plan in place to help the youths forge ahead. Worst still, Jonathan’s short-sighted and deceitful baby-project: Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) has been used to deliberately deny Ogoni people the roadmap to a clean and hydrocarbon-free environment. The people have therefore been denied merited sustainable development and complete restoration as recommended by UNEP report of August 4, 2011.
They’ve been denied empowerment irrespective of the fact that their livelihoods have been destroyed for more than 50 years due to the government and $hell’s hydrocarbon pollution. Many have also died resulting from sicknesses such as oil pollution-related cancer, respiratory diseases and harsh conditions. Jonathan’s HYPREP was and still is a diversionary project he and his Petroleum Minister Mrs. Allison-Madueke said to be the first female manager of $hell Oil in Nigeria thus protecting the company planted in place of UNEP experts knowing the cleanup will not take place. HYPREP has Mrs. Joi Nunieh Okunnu who is Ogoni as the National Coordinator. That is if she’s still there because no one is aware of what really happened to the agency after the deadly motor accident she escaped that unfortunately killed two officials. This happened on their way from BAYELSA State-Jonathan’s place, which has nothing to do with the UNEP report on Ogoni upon which HYPREP was falsely formed.
Because of Mrs. Nunieh Okunnu’s interest and friendship with the minister, she accepts every lies told her by Allison-Madueke, Jonathan, $hell and others who task her to move everywhere in Niger delta, especially BAYELSA State opening so-called offices when there is no single office opened anywhere in Ogoni where the UNEP report targets for cleanup. By so doing Ogoni intervention, cleanup and other measures recommended by the UNEP report have been recklessly abandoned. These calculative distraction and deprivation strategies have killed and almost burying the UNEP report and Ogoni cleanup on the laps of an Ogoni, and I warned about the entrapment, strategy and failure based on the agenda suspected from the outset. The UNEP report released more than two years ago, and we saw Jonathan with his irresponsible, greedy and corrupt team promising heaven and earth is no longer of national interest, likewise Ogoni cleanup.
Consequently, it’s become pertinent to explain and put in context or perspective how Jonathan’s presidency is dealing a deadly blow to the Ogoni people and struggle for socioeconomic, political and environmental justice, which helped renew and showcase the Niger delta predicaments. By Niger delta as many may know, I mean, the core oil-rich wetland like the South American Amazon with its rainforest features also facing extinction threats. Although Ogoni is a distinct nationality in this geo-economic and political region, not by Treaty (same as in the Nigerian non-Treaty but coercion case), rather based on common tribulations its natural resources of oil and gas brought like other oil bearing groups. Jonathan’s order has segregated Ogoni from Niger delta and general development in the country. He and his administration channels every single Naira earmarked or meant for the region to his Ijaw-Kalabari people for the most. Most other ethnic members of the region are left on their own. Ijaw-Kalabari has ironically become Niger delta by itself. We can see how robust and fortified he’s converted his Ijaw militants with contracts to the point that most of the leaders have reportedly become millionaires and billionaires in lusciousness overnight. Many Ijaw-Kalabari militants are also sponsored abroad to study and pursue other dreams. Ogonis have been left to roost because they choose nonviolence and peaceful methods of dialogue as their principle of struggle. Evidently corruption and insecurity, which are synonymous with Nigeria, are thriving exponentially under Jonathan’s presidency due to absolute timidity and lack of vision, mission and positive delivery strategy-gross incompetence leading to a gradual destruction of the polity.
In 2011, few days before the presidential selection some calls election in Nigeria. More than N47 billion (naira) was allocated by Jonathan to Niger delta. Nearly all the money went to Ijaw-Kalabari land. The so-called Ministry of Niger delta, like Niger Delta Development Commission, which both came resulting from the help of Ogoni struggle have the Ijaw-Kalabari people mostly as those in charge, hence developments have been focused mostly in this area-meaning BAYELSA and some part of Rivers State where Ijaws or related groups are situated. Under Jonathan, other than regular fiscal allocations, which media report says his government hasn’t paid out to states for more than two months; more money has been pumped into the oil-rich region of Niger delta than any remembered time. This includes security allocations, the pacification of Ijaw militants, which are huge sum, that also go to the region. Jonathan favors ethnic, party, friends and his Northern allies’ policies, than thinking through for all. This reemphasis the ethnic, nepotism and class politics, which has beclouded Nigeria, and reduced the national character, oneness and unity supposedly meant during independence to mere joke, thus a ruse.
It’s worth noting therefore, that the gross neglect, terrible fate and threats to Ogoni are more prevalent, deliberate thus conspicuous and fierce under the administration of Jonathan. Ogoni and its people and environment faces more peril than any time in history, especially when considering the civil tag attached to current government or the current era that is theoretically non-military regime. Yet practically the government or state is brutal and oppressive with all kinds of shenanigans played toward indigenous peoples, students and the poor, women and children throughout the country. Kidnapping, oil theft reportedly done by government officials and corporations are rampant.
Although Jonathan chooses to play ethnic politics against Ogoni and others, it’s not a secret that the Ogoni struggle brought a semblance of theoretically non-military Nigeria which could lead to possible democracy, where imminent disintegration or war is averted with common sense measures. That is openness, inclusion and participation in the affairs of the nation. Also needed is accountability and freedom, equality, justice and true restructuring to a more just federation of ethnic nationalities that will see all groups equal in all senses, yet they can progress and compete with their resources of human and minerals while contributing to the central government. It should be remembered that Ogoni struggle brought about the modern-day Nigerian questions of self-determination and true federalism, including proper democracy.
Since Nigeria wasn’t born as a result of agreed upon concept and principle by all the ethnic nations, these questions are such that should be properly discussed and resolved at a Sovereign National Conference (SNC), which will pull equal representation from all the ethnic nations and not the 36 states of Nigeria. The military tried a National Conference (NC) before and failed. In recent years Obasanjo also tried it and failed because they usually handpick representatives on state or interest basis and not allow the different ethnic nationalities to freely select their representatives to speak on their behalves and discuss all issues. So these national Conferences were teleguided to the taste of those in power, whereas a SNC will first dissolve the existing epileptic, corrupt and devilish system. It could be done without such dissolution as well, where honesty and determination to do right by all exist. I read the position of Balarabe Musa, a Northerner and former governor of Kaduna State, on SNC. Although he once believed in this conference, according to Punch Online of Sept. 22, Musa now believes SNC isn’t tenable because Nigerians don’t agree on what this kind of conference is or its modality. He said some expects this conference to be of ethnic nationalities-which is what it should rightly be, and others are saying otherwise, thus suggests a so-called Sovereign National Conference of Citizens (SNCOC) whom he claims are sovereign, should be the option and SNC should be the last resort. I wondered how he got to this since he knew and understood what the SNC he once supported means. How long should people such as Ogonis continue to suffer this high level subjugation, and how long does the Musas wish the different conflicts every corner of the country and absolute insecurity, threats to war and disintegration should continue unresolved? They conference can hold without Nigeria’s disintegration, hence the people’s constitution which shall work for all and not some as the case today.
To the doubting Thomas and those who will not want to end the oppression in Nigeria, what will save Nigeria and gives every group desired victory is a Sovereign National Conference mentioned already or call it Ethnic Nationality Conference (ENC), and not a mere National Conference, which according to media reports of Oct. 1, Jonathan just set up an advisory-strategy or modality committee to deliberate and advice the presidency on the way forward. Jonathan’s action, I believe is due to his 2015 second term fears, Ijaw militants’ threat (he responded to) that Nigeria will disintegrate if he isn’t allowed to run and win coming presidential election/selection and other pressures.
Of course, the possibility that the said committee recommendations shall be respected and implemented if allowed to even finish work isn’t there. This will also be like the UNEP report on Ogoni and other recommendations in Nigeria the government wasted money to float and nothing came out; it will as well be like the more than 50 years electricity project that Nigeria can’t achieve due to greed, high level and institutional corruption. Jonathan’s announcement is a time-buying, face saving and political strategy that could work on the psychology of opponents to slow down plans to oust him in 2015, I suspect. Dr. Femi Okurounmu and Dr. Akilu Indabawa, both from so-called majority ethnic groups of Yoruba and Hausa by their names are reported to be Jonathan’s committee chairman and secretary, respectively. Could this be a sign that the bigger groups’ interest will predominate the planning, hence possible failure expected due to its decoy design?
Finally, irrespective of the suffering, oppression, killings/hangings and environmental pollution and ruination forced down the throats of Ogonis by Nigeria, especially Jonathan’s government and $hell Oil. Only a state for Ogoni, otherwise known as political autonomy or self-rule within Nigeria (political power) like most ethnic nationalities have, or properly planned, honestly constituted and executed Sovereign National Conference that will bring every ethnic nation/nationality to the table to discuss and renegotiate the slave master-type union will help save and heal Ogoni and other oppressed Nigerians. This will definitely grant all the nationalities, big and small the succor desired and deserved, against the oppression, exploitation and deprivation Ogoni and others have been forced to bear throughout the existence of Nigeria and especially under Jonathan.
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