Today reminds us of a journey we set ourselves to undertake on January 4, 1993, a journey that has left on us terrible and irreparable scars, a journey that has consumed a generation of leaders and revealed the inhumanity of Royal Dutch Shell by the terrible actions they took against our justifiable demands for human rights which exposed their irresponsibility. Yet, it is a journey that has set new standards and opened new horizons that guarantee a better future for the Ogoni people.
Ken Saro-Wiwa, our great leader from whom most of us draw inspiration saw this future when he wrote:
In the past 30years, this occasion has been an opportunity to challenge the environmental degradation of Ogoni lands, the political repression and denials as well as the economic exclusion within Nigeria.
It is unfortunate that today, not much has changed from the circumstances that prompted our peaceful revolution. The environment is still degraded, we still do not enjoy the political rights to function within Nigeria as Ogoni people, our young people cannot find jobs as there isn't an economy to support that quest.
Determined to reverse these trends, MOSOP has at various times developed templates and prescriptions to move us forward. These interventions however could not address the core problems especially our desire to control and decide our own future.
The major deficiency of previous efforts had been that they were induced by the oil industry or driven by some few elites who wished to take advantage of our struggles. Conscious of our concerns as documented in the Ogoni Bill of Rights, we carefully reviewed the situation and crafted a model that conforms with our expectations and traditions. We finally decided on a framework that is sustainable and practicable as the pathway to Ogoni development and prosperity. That is the Ogoni Development Authority.
The Ogoni Development Authority is a deliberate intervention by MOSOP to achieve the long desires of the Ogoni people as contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights to have a fair proportion of Ogoni resources set aside for the development of Ogoni. We hope and strongly believe that with a determined commitment, the operation of the Ogoni Development Authority will mark a new beginning for the Ogoni people and justify our struggles and sacrifices.
On September 27, 2020, the Central Committee of MOSOP met and approved the establishment of the Ogoni Development Authority. The operation of the Ogoni Development Authority will guarantee that a fair proportion of Ogoni resources are set aside for Ogoni development according to the doctrine of "Mii Deekor" and ensure that the distribution and management of the resources are in the best interest of every Ogoni to secure our collective future. Monies accruing to the Ogoni people will be deposited into an Ogoni Development Trust while the Ogoni Development Authority works out a comprehensive development plan subject to the approval of the Central Committee. The plan will be implemented and we can collectively begin building a new Ogoni that guarantees our peace and happiness today and in future.
This outline was considered to be the best vehicle to drive home our demands and desire to control our own development and deal with the problems of insecurity, unemployment, infrastructure, housing, health care and educational failures and all other areas critical for Ogoni development while contributing immensely to national development.
We call for cooperation from both the Nigerian Government and the International Community as we make this great leap to turn a new page in our struggle for social justice.
The Ogoni Cleanup
The launch and commencement of the Ogoni cleanup exercise brought some relief and joy to our people. We hoped the program would provide some employment for our people, restore our waters and rejuvenate economic activities which depended significantly on farm output. Unfortunately, the cleanup program became a political tool to compensate political associates and empower allies.
This informed our condemnation of the cleanup implementation process and subsequent calls for reforms. We are yet to see the expected changes and we will not relent in ensuring that we get the cleanup process to be beneficial to our people. We support the current reorganization going on in HYPREP. However, we maintain that Ogoni interests must be adequately protected. We demand adequate Ogoni representation on the management board of HYPREP and as a people, we will accept only another Ogoni in replacement for the position of the Project Coordinator of HYPREP.
The 2021 MOSOP Elections
The next MOSOP elections comes up this year. I want to assure all of you here that we are fully committed to preserve the democratic tenets of MOSOP and will do everything to preserve its integrity. In this regard, we call on all eligible Ogonis to prepare for the elections. The process will commence earlier than usual and will be monitored for transparency
We call on all those who have been aggrieved to sheat their swords and let us do it together once again. I can assure you that no one will be left out from the process. In this regard, MOSOP has constituted a reconciliation committee to unify all interests as we forge forward ahead in this election year.
The 2023 Elections
Our political justice campaign remains unrelenting. MOSOP considers it really unjust for the leading political parties not to consider our pool of strong, active and qualified political actors for the position of governor of Rivers State. We therefore renew the call on the leading political parties to consider an Ogoni to fly their flags in the coming elections in 2023.
As you may all know, MOSOP is apolitical. However, our political docility seem to have affected our chances and opportunities for political placements. All that will have to change in the forth-coming dispensation. MOSOP will be more responsive in political matters and we are determined to decide the outcome of every election within the five local governments of Ogoni including Khana, Gokana, Eleme, Oyigbo and Tai. We urge our political class to position themselves for placement in the highest offices in the land irrespective of the political parties. MOSOP will strongly stand with them.
Our greatest strength as a people have been our unity. Indeed, we are one people with a common heritage. We therefore urge you to be more tolerant of each other, deploy every peaceful means available in the settlement of disputes and do all that is possible to avoid violent conflicts. In this regard, I urge the traditional rulers to be very transparent in their decisions regarding disputes between our people. Conflicts are unavoidable but they should be avenues to promote peace and love among our people and not be exploited to leave strong and painful memories behind
Our demands for political recognition remain unwavered. Moreover, we maintain that as a distinct ethnic nationality in Nigeria with so much economic potential, our contributions need to be rewarded. MOSOP will sustain the campaign for a clear and recognised political status for the Ogoni people through the creation of an "Ogoni State ''. This we believe is just, fair and does not in any way infringe on the rights of other ethnic groups in Nigeria but rather promotes peace and justice in our country.
The Future and the Ogoni Struggle
The Operations of the Ogoni Development Authority is a new dawn for our people. It does not only offer us an opportunity to reap the rewards of our struggles but finds root in our cherished ideals documented in the Ogoni Bill of Rights. It gives us hope of a better tomorrow and allows us to control and drive our own development with opportunities to contribute and demand accountability.
Let us embrace this opportunity to end the gloomy cloud that has nearly overshadowed us and driven our dexterity and the creativity for which we have been known into oblivion. As a movement, the leadership of MOSOP remains committed to the development of Ogoni and we will not relent.
I commend your resilience, you have indeed fought a good fight and the time for you to reap the fruits of your struggles is now. Our struggles are for the poor, deprived and cheated. We remain committed to change the narrative and look forward to a better future for our people. And like Ken Saro-Wiwa would say, you will have to sing a new song, a song of prosperity and happiness. The Ogoni oil is more than sufficient to lift every Ogoni out of poverty and that remains the goal of our struggle.
In this regard, we call on oil prospecting firms who are willing to conform with our demands for "Mii Deekor" and all prescriptions regarding the operations of the Ogoni Development Authority to submit proposals to the secretariat of MOSOP within 14 days from today. We will reach a decision and get back to you within another 14 days. The time for change is now and we are committed to prosecute these ideals as was the intentions of our founding fathers including T.N. Paul Birabi and Ken Saro-Wiwa when he said: "Do not allow any further oil mining activities in Ogoni until it is properly negotiated. '' We believe the terms and conditions for the operations of the Ogoni Development Authority meets the expectations of our people and will fully benefit us as a people.
On this note, I beacon on you to become advocates of peace as you return to your various destinations, enjoy yourselves, it's your day and bear in mind that a new day for the Ogoni people has come.
God Bless You All
Gbene Ogoni! Gbene Ogoni! Gbene Ogoni!
January 4, 2021