Thirty two years ago, we set out on this journey towards self emancipation. Our goal was to recover our lost dignity within the Nigerian state. On January 4, 1993, we expressed this resolution to challenge the Nigerian oil industry and Nigeria's discriminatory laws that denied us the rights to a decent living and to benefit from our enormous natural endowments.
32 years later, not much has changed. We still face the discrimination and state repression is visibly inhibiting our access to freedom, especially our rights to free depression.
Today, we have called off traditional public outings to mark the 2023 Ogoni day and urged our people to cope with celebrations in respective villages due to obvious security threats and the failure of the Nigerian state to provide security for our people. Indeed, we deeply regret the political hijack of our well known peaceful celebration in an attempt to convert the event into a political campaign ground. A condemnable exploitation of our economic depravity thereby increasing the pressures of the Nigerian oil industry to subvert our people's will and desires to break free from a genocidal underdevelopment.
In 2020, I was brutalized by state security and detained for two days before the Ogoni day.. In 2021, we came under direct attack from the Nigerian security forces that went as far as shooting at us on this very day. In 2022, we were silenced by the ruling political party in our state which converted our day into a political rally.
Our secretariat has very recently come under attacks from the local government council. We have had political tugs attached to the local council attack our people with machetes and inflict heavy injuries on our youths.
Our decision to declare a low key celebration today is therefore to subvert any plans to violently attack innocent people and unleash the repressive instruments of terror on our people and thereafter turn accusations at us like they did to Ken Saro-Wiwa.
It is not the first time we will be taking this action to protect our people. In 1994 1995 and 1996, MOSOP called off public celebrations to protect our people from the repression of the state.
Our decision is not a sign of weakness but part of our resolution to protect our people and maintain our commitment to non-violence. It is a sacrifice for peace and to frustrate the incriminating plans of oppressors. We will however take necessary legal actions including seeking legal remedies to break free from these expression.
State of the Ogoni Struggle
Our focus has changed significantly towards finding a solution to the challenges we face. In this regard, we have officially submitted our proposals for the creation of an Ogoni Development Authority (ODA) to the Federal Government of Nigeria with details on its structure and mode of implementation.
We will continue to advocate for the implementation of the ODA recommendations and do hope that it becomes operational before the exit of President Buhari's administration.
We have firm belief in the ODA as a credible vehicle to address all lingering issues and restore relations between all parties including the federal government, the oil industry and the Ogoni people.
To the Ogoni people, we urge you to remain committed to this cause and have faith in our resolve to address the fundamental wrongs which have denied our people the rights to a decent living.
Exoneration For The "Ogoni 9"
In the spirit of on-going reconciliation and our commitment to the cause of justice, we urge the Nigerian authorities to drop their pride, accept their mistakes in Ogoni and clear the nine men that were wrongly executed under the military regime of General Sanni Abacha on November 10, 1995 including Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuien.
The Nigerian Government has not been sincere in its execution of the Ogoni environmental cleanup exercise. The entire exercise lacks transparency, and does not have any community-based representation as MOSOP has been inexplicably excluded from participation and monitoring of the agency's activities.
We regret to state that we have no confidence in the exercise as has been conducted so far.
While we have the impression that an audit of the exercise is ongoing, the cleanup agency, HYPREP, continues to execute bogus contracts. We therefore demand greater transparency in the work of HYPREP, a halt in further contract awards pending the conclusion of on-going audit. We demand that water provision be placed under emergency measures and be given priority as a life saving measure and an integrated water programme be implemented throughout Ogoni to address the water crises.
MOSOP believes in the inalienable rights of Nigerians and Ogonis in particular to choose their preferred candidates at elections. To this end, we urge the Ogoni people to exercise their rights in the forthcoming elections based on their informed judgement. MOSOP declines pressures to endorse a particular candidate for any position at the forthcoming elections. We call on Ogonis to resist every inducement towards the use of violence before, during and after the elections and urge the youths to reject attempts to use them only as political thugs who get dumped after electoral victories.
Conclusions and The Way Forward
In very clear terms, we wish to communicate the position of the Central Committee of MOSOP as mandated by the Ogoni people on the way forward to usher in a new Ogoni with hopes and promises, with full economic activities that benefit the people, government and private interests and support our aspirations as Nigerian citizens:
1. We call on the Nigerian government to accept our proposals for the operation of the Ogoni Development Authority ((ODA).
2. We call for a judicial review of the judgment of the Justice Ibrahim Auta's tribunal which sentenced Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others to death on November 10, 1995 with a view to exonerate the nine because they were unquestionably innocent.
3. We call for a proper restructuring of the Nigerian federation to guarantee the rights of the Ogoni people to function within a Nigerian federation as Ogoni people.
4. We call for a more transparent environmental cleanup of Ogoni with preference for the provision of clean water to our people.
Thank you and God bless you all.