The author, Fegalo Nsuke is the Publicity Secretary of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).
I had hopes that president Buhari’s integrity, based on what I had heard about him and his uprightness, will not be compromised and was actually optimistic of a renewed commitment to resolve the Ogoni problem.
I was sure that president Buhari understood that in over 30 years of oil exploration in Ogoniland, an estimated $81 billion dollars had been generated from the area, excluding the huge gas potentials of the area, the revenue from the two seaports, two refineries, a petro-chemical complex and two power stations in the area.
The lessons from Ogoni clearly shows how much injustice is pervasive in our country. The shame is that rather than address these injustices, our country and our government has attempted to deceive the world about the true situation in Ogoniland.
Today in my Ogoniland, some villages bury as much as 13 persons in a week. When you relate this to some parts of our country, Imo state for instance, where you do not hear of deaths in one year except for very old people, you will appreciate the reality of the danger faced by the Ogoni people. Nigeria seemingly does not care about this but still furiously going after the Ogoni oil.
Our country seem not bothered about its reputation as one expected to provide leadership in the sub-region. As we speak, our country, Nigeria, still acts like one who does not use his conscience, contemplating the resumption of oil production in an Ogoniland full of working corpses called humans. Nigeria’s primary interest is the Ogoni oil and not the safety and future of the people.
In their usual manner characterizing a fantastically discriminatory society, the government speak of oil resumption and not the freedom from discrimination which Ogoni seek. The government focuses on lobbying chiefs and politicians who are on its payroll and not the future of the Ogoni people. While the Ogoni people are calling for respect for political rights which will allow the Ogoni function within Nigeria as a distinct ethnic group, which it is, the government canvasses the people to accept its current slave status where its resources are being used to build cities and nothing comes back to Ogoniland..
The Ogoni people have become slaves in their own country, a realization that has prompted what has become known as the “Ogoni Struggle and led by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP. Wittingly, the Ogoni people had presented a shopping list to the federal government of Nigeria noting that the Ogoni people want to control their own affairs.
Government response had been brutal, a deliberate neglect of the Ogoni region to force poverty on the people and hoping to compel the call for oil resumption in the land. That had been the attitude of a Nigeria where human rights mean little or nothing. Where the government only show strength against a peaceful and legitimate demand for fairness while it look for negotiators to intervene in cases of people who take up arms against the state like the cases of Boko Haram and the Niger Delta militants.
While the Nigerian government has appeared helpless in dealing with terrorists whom it has nicknamed herders, the armed forces display unusual dexterity of a strong army each time it is deployed against peaceful and non-violent Ogonis.
If Nigeria could be so skillful in dealing with Boko Haram, the same way it has done against civilian protestors in Ogoni, Nigeria would long have overcome its security challenges.
It is indeed a shame that our country’s strength can only be seen against an oil producing community whom it has unfairly exploited to death and in demanding for social justice has peacefully, non-violently protested this exploitation.
What Nigeria has done to the Ogoni shows that it has become a country that has lost its humanity. If Nigeria will succeed and return to the path of prosperity, it must end the discrimination and unfair exploitation of its own people. Our country must be built on social justice. In this regard, Ogonis must be respected and treated as Nigerians with equal rights with the rest of Nigeria..