Ogoni Has Shown a Good Sign to Move Forward – By Fegalo Nsuke

Contrary to what Shell and its agents would want the public to think about the Ogoni people, our recent proposals to resolve the Ogoni problem of over 3 decades through the operation of an Ogoni Development Authority is a good sign that we want to move forward.

In the past three years, my interactions with the government have suggested a clear misunderstanding of the Ogoni struggle. While the Ogoni agitation has been blackmailed and branded a rebellion by Shell and their allies, In reality, it is Ogoni’s way of protesting its sufferings in Nigeria and offered an opportunity for dialogue.

Whereas the Ogoni people were seeking ways out of the present quagmire, seeking an avenue to express their displeasure over Shell’s devastation of the lands, the government fell to a misinformation about the real intentions of the Ogoni people leading to heavy use of state security forces to repress in an attempt to compel the people to surrender.

I must acknowledge that the Ogoni story is rather sympathetic especially when conceptualised within the framework of our real intentions to address underdevelopment as represented in the Ogoni Bill of Rights, (OBR). 

I maintain that the OBR was actually Ogoni’s response to underdevelopment and there was nothing so exceptional about a request for greater attention from a people whose contributions to the economy was so significant to the national economy. The Ogoni people could simply no longer swallow the Nigerian exploitation which carted away our natural endowments, sent the money into a federal account from where other Nigerian nationalities distributed the funds amongst themselves leaving Ogoni with nothing.

What became known as the Ogoni struggle was actually a natural response to a known exploitation and not a revolt. It was Ogoni’s way of sending the government an invitation for dialogue with hopes of winning some economic security for the Ogoni people. No one can deny the fact that there wouldn’t have been an Ogoni struggle had the essential infrastructure been provided to support the people’s efforts to survive.

Unfortunately, Shell, which had  been at the center of the Ogoni conflicts, is an architect of divide and conquer. Shell decimates, kills and destroys people and it’s so unfortunate that in our country, Shell decides what happens and always gets away with her evil. 

The Ogoni have been their worst victims in Nigeria as they turned the state against our people and a simple demand for basic rights became a reason for massive militarization and killings. Up till date, no one has been investigated, charged or punished for the Ogoni crimes. The Nigerian military, under General Sani Abacha ordered a military invasion which left not less than 4,000 persons dead.

The attitude of the state in yielding to requests to deploy soldiers against civil protests did not only leave people dead; it also impacted the people’s mental health. The shameful deployment of the security forces has since become a strategy amongst the civil population in dealing with common disagreements like debt recovery.

This company called Shell or SPDC demonstrated its hatred for the Ogoni and we can also not pretend about our consequential hatred for Shell. They killed and dehumanized us and they simply do not deserve our love anymore.

Our position is that Shell will never ever be reconsidered to resume oil production in Ogoni no matter under whose guise they come. Shell’s violent tendencies have destroyed the very heart of our peace-loving people and has sent thousands to early graves.

Ogoni will reject Shell till tomorrow. Shell cannot kill our people in their thousands and still contemplate a resumption of oil production on Ogoni soil.  “Taa faa nor ador” as it is represented in our traditional adage. It simply means instead of losing our pride, let the struggle continue.

The bottom line is that Shell and their associates in any form they disguise are not acceptable in Ogoni and they should be advised to stay away.

Going forward, Ogoni has shown a good sign to move forward with its proposed development plan. MOSOP is very strongly committed to this plan which has called for the operation of an Ogoni Development Authority.

The good side is that we called for its operationalization indicating that no matter how it is structured, our key interest is that Ogoni cannot continue to provide Nigeria with some 500,000 barrels of oil {estimated at $45,000,000) per day while we live in some of the world’s worst conditions without water, no economy, no infrastructure, no jobs, and we are only left to suffer the consequences of natural resource exploitation. 

If anybody will lie about Ogoni’s commitments to a better life, let it be clear that the Ogoni people are very progressive, creative and entrepreneurial and we only want our rich natural endowments to be beneficial to our people as well.

The Ogoni Development Authority as proposed by MOSOP offers the hope of a peaceful resolution. It will be a good thing to have the Ogoni issues resolved permanently and the ODA is a fine opportunity.

Fegalo Nsuke is president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). He wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.

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