The saying "United we stand, divided we fall", is an all-time-truth. It was divided through a communication barrier that scattered the builders of the Tower of Babel. The Holy Writ makes us understand that God authored it. It is the same instrument that the devil is using to scatter families, couples, projects, well intended causes and even nations today.
Disagreement and division have come together to destroy the once vibrant Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP. It is very disheartening to find that the once highly formidable MOSOP, is now showing serious signs of disintegration. MOSOP now has factions, three or more strong factions that are fighting one another rather than the organisation's original cause - contrary winds on Ogoniland.
Mr. Ledum Mitee, the lawyer and former no-nonsense president of MOSOP is being accused by two factions of MOSOP of frustrating their effort in the struggle. Owens Wiwa, who I believe to be a blood relation of the slain Ogoni environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, one name that pushed the MOSOP/Ogoniland sentiment and activities beyond the shores of Nigeria, is said to be with Mitee in what I decide to call the third faction of MOSOP. What a road of disintegration MOSOP is travelling!
A few days ago, one of the factions alleged in a press release signed by its secretary-general Alex Akori, that Mitee last Saturday led an assault mission to the Freedom House secretariat of MOSOP. It said he was backed by armed soldiers and political thugs. The release said the invasion was facilitated by loyalists of the ruling political party in the state, a reference to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
"MOSOP regrets the turn of events in Ogoni and notes with grief the involvement of some Ogoni politicians, especially those who once led MOSOP and were with us yesterday in this struggle", it said.
The above suggests that apart from division, MOSOP has been infiltrated with partisan politics. Some members have pitched tent with Gov. Nyesom Wike's Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Others including Akori, who signed the release, may belong to other parties especially President Buhari's All Progressives Congress, APC. The summary of this situation is that MOSOP is rich in political colouration, which cannot flow with its objectives.
There is a struggle for power, crude power. That is why there are three factions of the body. The one is led by Mr. Fegalo Nsuke. This faction issued the press release. Nsuke lords over the MOSOP Secretariat. In their disappointment over the invasion the faction also wrote: "We least expected persons like Ledum Mitee and Owens Wiwa who have at several times shown strong support for the leadership of MOSOP under Mr Fegalo Nsuke to be a part of this invasion on our secretariat."
I do not know yet how Mitee fell out with Nsuke. But there is a clue to the misunderstanding between Nsuke and Wiwa. The duo disagreed over the scope of the yearly Remembrance Day celebrations of the November 10, 1995 hangings of some Ogoni chiefs and leaders. Nsuke wanted the celebrations in November 2020 to have a national flavour, but Wiwa thought it should be a family affair. This is how they quarrelled. May God help man!
In a statement issued by another faction of MOSOP about the "invasion" and signed by Young Nkpah, its publicity secretary, Mitee is accused of illegally convening a MOSOP meeting at the Peace and Freedom Centre, Bori Town, the presumed headquarters of Ogoniland. He allegedly tagged the meeting held on November 13, MOSOP Congress, whereas, according to the faction, the meeting was that of a committee of Mitee's friends.
The faction's statement said under the constitution, it is only the MOSOP Central Committee headed by its faction's president of MOSOP, Prince Biira, that has the power to call for congress. But that the Steering Committee had not met, noting, "If the Movement had called any congress, it would have abided by the constitutional provision guiding such a meeting. Article 5 (2) (a) of the MOSOP constitution is explicit on those that are qualified to participate in a MOSOP congress." The Biira-led faction said the meeting was an effort in futility, declared its outcome "of no effect whatsoever", and warned the Ogoni people not only to ignore it but to be wary of Mitee and Wiwa.
Like Akori's release, the faction said: "That the said meeting was held under heavy security shields, tells of the unpopularity and rejection of the organisers and their foot soldiers. As it is of fact, no popular meeting of the people, especially MOSOP’s would have such level of security involvement." One of the decisions taken at that meeting was the dissolution of the MOSOP National Transaction Council. But the faction faulted that action saying:
"Following resolution of the succession dispute in the Movement by the Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers of Ogoni and KAGOTE in 2019, a MOSOP National Transition Council with a one-year tenure was inaugurated in January 2020. The council was mandated to conduct MOSOP polls amongst others. In line with this mandate, it conducted elections in December 2020 and the officials that emerged therefrom will be in office till 31 December, 2023.
I am not an Ogoni man although my late Christian brother and friend, Paul Igwe Igbara, former registrar of Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori, used to tell me that Ogoni and Ibibio of Akwa Ibom State are from the same stock. But I am a freeborn Niger Deltan. MOSOP has remained a strong socio-cultural group in the Niger Delta if not the foremost because of its international exposure. It has been a strong force in this country for some years now.
MOSOP must remain strong to pursue and achieve its objectives. Who knows what battle it may have to fight tomorrow? Can it fight using three or more factions? What type of quarrel is it that a good roundtable cannot resolve?
MOSOP leaders must sit back and reflect on the objectives of the body. They must be prepared to make sacrifices aimed at saving the dying body. What three factions of MOSOP cannot achieve working separately for 10 years, a united and single MOSOP can achieve in a year or two. Bring back one MOSOP and let the unity flag fly again. A house divided against itself, they say, cannot stand.