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OGONI of the Niger Delta: the Price of being one of the Richest Oil Regions on Earth!

By Dum-ale Tanee
The Coordinator, MOSOP Kansas City Chapter, U.S.A
(Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People)

It has been a little bit over 50 years since the discovery of oil in commercial quantity in the Niger Delta; the region has yet to witness any development despite multi-billion dollar revenues that have been ruthlessly extracted and plundered. All efforts to peacefully and genuinely resolve the issue as initiated by various groups in the region have often been ignored by the Nigerian authority and the oil companies.
 
As Ogoni people all over the world mark the 14th anniversary of “Ogoni Day” this week January 4, 2007, the day that over 300,000 Ogonis took to the street to non-violently protest government neglect and Shell’s environmental practices in the region, this year’s event is being used to reiterate their total commitment to the struggle. It is also used to reiterate their position as contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR) as well as their total opposition to the return of Shell to Ogoni.

When the late Kenule Beeson Saro Wiwa the Great, and the Ogoni people started the campaign for environmental and minority rights in Nigeria, little did anyone know that Shell would retreat from Ogoniland in order to avoid responsibility for its actions, but the company did. Shell fell back to the Nigerian authority which gave it all the necessary forces it needed to silence the Ogoni people, but couldn’t. The peak of it all came with the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni activists.

Since the execution of the “Ogoni 9”, there has been an unprecedented increase in agitation in the region. Instead of the Shell sponsored execution of these innocent great men to silence the Ogoni people and intimidate the people of Niger Delta, it has helped to create more awareness and exposed the evils of Shell and those who support its aggressive and subversive activities in the region.

Ken Saro Wiwa was framed and killed as Jesus Christ was framed and crucified to prevent the truth from spreading. These blood-thirsty wicked men or corporate terrorists/criminals who wear Shell and government as masks, who think that they created the world, cannot and will not achieve their aims. They continue to hide under the name of corporations and governments while persecuting, oppressing and stealing the God given birthright of natural resources from a peaceful and defenseless people.

Before he was hanged by the corrupt powers that be, Ken Saro made a prophetic statement at the tribunal that “I predict that the denouncement of the riddle of the Niger Delta will soon come.  The agenda is being set at this trial.  Whether the peaceful ways I have favored will prevail depends on what the oppressor decides, what signals it sends to the waiting public.” In my innocence of the false charges I face here, in my utter conviction, I call upon the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger Delta, and the oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up now and fight fearlessly and peacefully for their rights.  History is on their side.  God is on their side.”

Today, his message to the people of Ogoni and the entire people of Niger Delta has been received. Now “We cannot abandon the living ideas of the death for the dead ideas of the living.” Ogoni people and the entire people of Niger Delta will continue the fight until victory is achieved, not only because Ken Saro Wiwa said so, but because it is in their interest and is the only way to avoid being systematically ground into the dust. 

The crisis in the Niger Delta cannot be resolved through containment plans as designed by the so-called stockholders because it does not protect the environment and provide for the unborn. Containment plans such as Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB), Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) as well as Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have failed, so has the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s new “nine point agenda,” a military containment plan which cannot stand the test of time. The crisis in the region can only be peacefully resolved in line with the genuine demands of the people, and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has provided the generally acceptable model in the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR)

Shell, in its desperation to return to Ogoni for oil activities through the back door is according to our information implicated in two devastating oil spillages in spite of the fact that it had claimed to regard Ogoni oil as being of “insignificant quantity.” The first oil spillage took place on Thursday, March 23, 2006 in Gokana from Bomu Oil Well-2 a few hours after Shell people were allegedly seen in the location. The second, which is the most under-reported incidence of oil spillage that resulted in a fire outbreak, happened in the Kpean community from Yorla Well Head-13. The fire from it was allegedly deliberately allowed to burn for about two months in order to poison the atmosphere, so that Ogoni people will suffer from chronic lung disease and die systematically (killing without firing a shot).

Our genuine leaders have been framed and killed by the Nigerian authority and Shell. Our rights violated, our environment polluted or poisoned, and today most of our people do not live beyond age 60. In fact, there is death everywhere in the Niger Delta like never before. It is not the AIDS now being used to divert people’s attention from the real problem facing Africa; rather it is from years of uncontrolled pollution. According to a recent report compiled jointly by World Wildlife (WWF UK), the World Conservation Union and the Nigeria Conservation Foundation, pollution is destroying the livelihood of 20 million people in the Niger Delta.
 
Also, for one of the richest regions of the world (Niger Delta) to be one of the poorest among the poor should be a concern to all who wish for peace and fairness.  For nations that profess freedom and democracy around the world to be silent on the activities of their companies in Nigeria and other developing countries, and also provide financial and military incentives to corrupt leaders against peaceful protesters in the name of strategic interest, shows double standards at its peak. The people of Niger Delta want business as usual and their oil sold to these nations; so what then are their interests?
  
What Shell and the government of Nigeria are doing to the people of Niger Delta is the same thing that Saddam Hussein did to the Kurds. The difference is that, in Nigeria it has happened under successive rulers, including civilian and military administrations, which makes it worse.
 
No amount of threats will deter the people of Niger Delta from pursuing legitimate demands.  Since the Ogoni people are not under any bond with Shell, they have the right to choose company(s) that will do business on their God-given land. They also have the right to reject all laws and policies that conflict with their interests when such laws are biased against them and infringe their human rights.  

Ogoni people will not allow Shell to do business in Ogoni, not in any name or under any pretext. Enough is enough.

I would like to use this medium to alert the world that Shell is moving closer to repeating what it did within 1993 -1995 in Ogoni again. I also like to challenge those who are skeptical of the situation in the Niger Delta to pay a visit so that they can judge for themselves. And I wish to call on nations, organizations, individuals as well as groups to prevail on the Nigerian authority to resolve the problems in the Niger Delta in line with the peoples’ demands that Shell should stay away from Ogoni.

Finally, I would respectfully ask every reader to ponder on the morality of billons of dollars in revenues being extracted from Ogoniland, year after year, decade after decade, while leaving the Ogoni people to live in terrible poverty in a hellishly polluted environment. How can the rest of humanity stand by and watch this shocking exploitation continue to happen? Are you happy to continue purchasing fuel from Shell given its leading role in this unbelievable horror story?

Dum-ale Tanee
The Coordinator, MOSOP Kansas City Chapter, U.S.A

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1 Comment on “OGONI of the Niger Delta: the Price of being one of the Richest Oil Regions on Earth!”

  1. #1 Ernest Akpan
    on Jun 6th, 2007 at 12:01

    you are fighting a just course that is selfless and aimed at liberating the oppressed people of Niger Delta.God is with you.Keep the flag flying.

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