On behalf of the Ogoni people and its spirits, I warmly welcome you all to the 32nd celebrations of Ogoni Day. This day has been historic as it marks the memorial of our collective decision to challenge the underdevelopment which has plagued our society. It is also a day that rekindles our hope in the struggle for self determination and national identity as a distinct ethnic group within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I must congratulate you all for an outstanding commitment to the struggle in the past 32 years. You have kept our collective hopes alive and I am confident that you will reap the fruits of your labour.
Let me take you a little back into history. The Ogoni struggle was launched not as a revolutionary movement against the Nigerian state but was an invitation to dialogue and intended to draw the attention of the Nigerian State to the deprivations in Ogoni. The Ogoni people through MOSOP launched the struggle as a reaction to the underdevelopment that had become so pervasive and was killing the people in their numbers.
The issues we protested were captured in the Ogoni Bill of Rights which decried the lack of basic infrastructure including electricity, schools, healthcare systems, roads, jobs, and so on.
I am confident therefore that had the oil industry through its Corporate Social Responsibility been sincerely committed to address these social problems, this day would never have come to be what it is to us today.
It is now three decades since we launched the struggle. We can list our successes to include bringing the plight of our people to global attention and a recognition with the Nigerian State as an indigenous people who deserve attention. We must also acknowledge that the commercialization of the struggle has seriously divided us, we have turned against ourselves and oppression and violence have started creeping in.
We should also acknowledge that we have failed to take advantage of the many opportunities that came with our struggle. The most significant is the failure to find a solution to the problem and return our nationality to a path of predictable development through dialogue.
In pursuit of a sustainable solution, our leadership set forth after we were elected on December 19, 2018 to find a lasting solution that does not only address the problem permanently but doing so without the loss of any Ogoni life.
We commenced consultations with all Ogoni communities on the best ways forward and on September 27, 2020, the Central Committee of MOSOP approved a set of actions which when undertaken will permanently resolve the problem and trigger a robust and comprehensive development of Ogoni.
We approached the Federal Government of Nigeria through the presidential committee for the resolution of conflicts in oil bearing communities. Unfortunately, these efforts were not concluded as our country moved into national elections and there was an eventual change in national leadership.
Our primary demand is the operationalization of the recommendations contained in our development proposals which basically require a commitment to invest a proportion of the resources extracted from Ogoni back into Ogoni development.
This is the stack reality before us today and at this point, we must tell ourselves the truth and move away from illusion. That truth is that our struggle is and has always been a struggle for development and the development we seek require massive injection of funds.
We cannot expect these funds to come from elsewhere when the soil we walk everyday has the capacity to generate a minimum of 500,000 barrels of oil per day estimated at $40 million (approx. NGN32 billion Naira).
That is the soil upon which the Ogoni people walk daily in misery, without electricity, jobs for our youths, schools, hospitals, security etc.
This is the basis upon which we decided to pursue our development goals in the best interest of our people.
On behalf of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) I am pleased to inform you that the Central Committee of MOSOP had met and agreed to pursue the operationalization of the recommended Ogoni Development program. We commit to defend this goal and will strongly resist every move by anyone or group who will attempt to truncate our efforts at getting Ogoni back to its rightful path and place in history.
Oil Resumption in Ogoni
In the past 31 years, we have seen one of the worst and most bloody conflicts between people and the oil industry. Some 4,000 Ogoni lives have been lost while the problem remains resolved.
The Ogoni agitation which was a simple response to underdevelopment had become a devastating conflict due to a misunderstanding of the people’s real intentions.
We believe and understand that achieving development the development we seek in Ogoni will require funds. We therefore state that negotiated oil production in Ogoni is needed and acceptable at this time to foster peace and cordiality between all parties including the Nigerian government, the oil industry and the Ogoni people.
I urge the Ogoni people to give peace a chance as we continue to explore all options to dialogue and resolve the lingering conflicts.
In conclusion, I wish to persuade you all ro accept the fact that oil production has to resume in Ogoni to generate the revenue that is necessary to drive development in the area. That is the position and intention of MOSOP’s development plans and that is the goal we should all commit to drive and achieve.
I thank you all and will always count on your support during these critical moments.
I wish you happy and peaceful Ogoni Day celebrations.
God bless You all.