Text of a Statement By Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, President of MOSOP, on the Occasion of the Memorial Service held on November 11, 2016, in Bane, Ogoniland, for the 21st Anniversary Commemoration of Ogoni Martyrs and the passing away of Ken Wiwa Jr.
On 10th November 1995, the Ogoni nation suffered a devastating blow. The Nigeria government and Shell murdered nine Ogoni sons in cold blood for standing up for the truth and for justice. That action routed the world to see things for the first time in the way that we saw things. That singular action exposed the deep abyss of bestiality and brigandage in which Nigeria had sunk. That action signaled to the world that groups like the Ogoni people are imperiled and may not get justice, dignity and any sense of decency in this country called Nigeria. It demonstrated that the Nigeria system was not working for most of its people.
As we remind ourselves each year, at this hour on the 10th of November 1995, their souls fell silent. The executive murder of the Ogoni heroes had gone down in history as the greatest blot on Nigeria’s conscience.
On the 18th October 2016, Ogoni again suffered another devastating loss as Ken Wiwa Jr., the son of our icon and legendary leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa fell into the discomforting embrace of the numbing and icy hands of death. It is the saddest story that had been delivered to us this year. Ken Wiwa Jr., MOSOP miss you, Ogoni miss you, Ogoni mourns you!!!
My co-travellers, this day, this moment, this hour, we dedicate to our dead. We remember all of them that had laid down their lives for this struggle: Ken Saro-Wiwa, Chief Edward Kobani, Albert Badey, John Kpuinen, Barinem Kiobel, Chief S.N. Orage, NorduEawo, Chief T.B.Orage, Saturday Dobee, Daniel Gbokoo, Paul Levura, BariborBera, Garrick Leton and Felix Nuate
There are also many others who were cut down unsung in the course of the efforts by the Nigeria state to make our struggle stillborn and kill its message. This day is also dedicated to these unsung heroes, over two thousands of them who also fell to the numbing gunshots of the military. This day is also dedicated to the thousands of victims of the ongoing environmental terrorism in Ogoni nay the Niger Delta. They are equally the heroes being remembered on this occasion.
On this day, we join thousands of sympathizers to mourn the passing away of Ken Wiwa Junior. Today, we talk about UNEP report, most people do not know that Ken Wiwa Jr., had been one of the unsung heroes of UNEP report who worked behind the scene to make things happen even during the period of the assessment. He collaborated with the team of experts from KREDDHA to make strategic interventions with the UNEP team during the period of the assessment. He was also with us during the period of the negotiations in Abuja, Nigeria and travelled with us to Geneva, Switzerland to make his own modest contributions to what is today the proposed UNEP implementation process. We would miss him dearly particularly at this critical stage of the process when we need unity, consensus and peace in Ogoniland to move the process forward.
All these men and women that we remember and mourn today had lived their lives in deeds, not in years and words. They had lived their lives in action and in making sacrifices for Ogoniland.
These men and women have given us a legacy from the past on which to build the future. These heroes had given us tremendous virtues of determination, of compassion and self-confidence, but most of all, of service to humanity.
Their spirits will continue to draw us all together in our time of need. Their spirit will continue to fire our zeal and unity. Their deaths can never be in vain. Our ultimate resolve from this gathering today is our unshakable pledge that we will work together for peace, progress and unity in Ogoniland.
As we meditate over today, our top priority remains to take care of what our fallen heroes care about and had passed on to us: Our Ogoniland, our environment , ourselves and our communities. This means that we have work to do if we have all resolved that their deaths shall never be in vain. It means that we need each other. It means that our fight for a fair share of the economic resources in our land, our fight for a better environment, our fight for political inclusion and representation and our fight for social justice must continue.
On this note, we call on the Nigeria government to seize the opportunity of this period to clear the names of the Ogoni nine.The continuing refusal of the Nigeria government to clear the names of the Ogoni nine even after a United Nations Fact Finding Team had declared that their trials were disrespectful of and fell foul of international law and standards remains the greatest disservice to the memory of these men. Successive Nigeria administrations have failed to do the needful by clearing the names of these men who were unjustly tried, condemned and then murdered. On this memorial, we are sending a strong request to the President Muhammadu Buhari -led administration to immediately set in motion the process for clearing the names of these innocent men.
Whilst commending the Federal Government for the renewed interest in the implementation of UNEP report, we are seizing this opportunity to urge the Federal Government to remove every obstacles to the full implementation of the UNEP Report. We also call on Shell Oil and all the joint venture partners to provide the resources necessary for the effective implementation of the Ogoniland clean-up project without any further delay.
To our people, in this period of mourning, I would assure you that MOSOP will continue to stand with you. We will stand with you in your mourning. We will stand with you as we endure the sweltering heat from the current economic climate. We would continue to stand with you to step up and lead in the face of discrimination and political denial where in two national budget cycles, Ogoni have been denied any contributions towards that budget because of no representation. We will continue to stand with our people who are frustrated with the way things are not working in our motherland.
In doing this, I pray that we must come together in ways that we have never done before, we must rethink our strategies, form new and stronger teams. We must hear out one another no matter our different interests, beliefs and political persuasions.We must learn to listen to ourselves. We must take some new and giant strides to do those things that we have always felt uncomfortable to do. We must all commit to take our gospel of unity, love, togetherness, peace and justice to new frontiers and impregnable fortresses. This is the only way we will develop creative solutions to build an Ogoni where justice, peace and freedom shall reign supreme. It is in coming together in this way and working in this manner that amid our mourning and sadness today, we can demonstrate to the world that we are marching forward together. This is the only better and enduring way to mourn and remember our heroes!
Long Live Ogoni People! Long live Ogoni Nation!!
The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People(MOSOP)
9 Justice Mary Odili Street
off Ken Saro-Wiwa Road (formerly Liberation Stadium Road)
500101 Port Harcourt