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By Pius Barikpoa Nwinee

November 10, 2007

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo during his eight year tenure as Nigeria’s democratic leader meddled with two chronic issues which are of concern to the people of the Niger Delta. First, sincere and honest solution to the neglect of the Niger Delta. Second, exonerate Ken Saro Wiwa. Genuine solution to these issues would have fostered indisputable affection between him, the Niger Deltans and the whole world. He would have earned a permanent place as one of Nigeria’s greatest eldest statesmen. Regrettably, one of such golden opportunities slipped him by not rightly exonerating Ken Saro Wiwa who neither plotted nor murdered the Ogoni four. Instead, he chose to ‘pardon’ him. The word ‘pardon’ whose literal and legal meanings are well known did not go down well with Ogonis and the world community. It was not only a disservice, disrespect but was an affront to world civilization. This could as well be one of the reasons he has become such a pariah; few months after his hand-over of the instrument of state even within his PDP inner circle. Others could have been because he was power drunk, greedy, and corrupt and pursued the interest of foreign firms over alignment of domestic catastrophes. 
The lingering threshold issues of the Niger Delta and the exoneration of Ken Saro Wiwa persuaded me to write to draw the attention of President Musa Yar-adua to take a giant stride and stop kid-gloving with our people just like his predecessor. As a captain of the Nigerian state, history will have a place for him depending on the way he stirs and navigate the ship of state. My wish for him is to navigate on the compass of justice, freedom and the rule of law, so his name would be written on the golden layers of Nigeria’s history which eroded his forerunner.
The issue of the neglect of the Niger Delta, the extra judicial killings, murder and kidnap is no surprise as it was a covert design for the Niger Delta by the majority tribes of Nigeria. It was of common knowledge to the Nigerian government from the inception of the land use Act of 1978. The causes and effects should have been envisioned with the adoption and entrenchment of the said detested decree. It could arguably be said, that, it was on the way of this notorious Act which defiled human civilization that Ken Saro Wiwa stood and was coerced into the gallows. He was executed not on the grounds of being guilty of a crime but primarily because he was a minority. Secondly, he electrified the Nigerian spectrum to rise up against the status of corporate incarceration. Third, he mobilizes the domicile masses and injected new solutions to the question of the environment, resources, corruption, segregation among others. In my mind therefore, it is invalid, ultra vise, prejudice and naïve to blackmail a man of such calibre and reputation whose outstanding achievements stimulated answers to global problems including global warming. He brought more fame to Nigeria through his outstanding works within and outside of Nigeria. 
The rudeness with which Ken was treated and the denial of justice to Ogoni has made me recall a stringent relationship between Ogonis and Nigeria over the past decades. It is unfortunate to recoup that when it comes to addressing Ogoni questions, government are vehemently harsh, insensitive, recalcitrant and particularly not forthcoming.   For instance, since the historic judicial murder of Ken Saro Wiwa and the killing of over 4000 Ogonis, the world has constantly criticised the miscarrage of justice by the Justice Auta kangaroo military tribunal. Sober appeals and excruciating calls to exonerate Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists from trumped-up charges featured prominently yet government was and remained indifferent. It is a sad note, that, Ogoni is constantly used as political oxygen to obtain legitimacy and left at the mercy of those with political muscle. In this case, the big three tribes of Nigeria.
It is my candid observation that Nigeria would continue to stagnant in so far it continues to view the issues of Ogoni and Niger Delta with narrow prism. Here, the issue of Shell Oil Company readily comes to mind. This multinational oil giant was and still is mentioned as culpable in the incarceration of Ken Saro Wiwa and other crimes against Ogoni. Although, Ogonis may or may not be pursuing vengeance, it is awful to see Shell Oil company, a criminal contrivance stifling the process  in alter disrespect and disregard to host communities, value of life and rule of law. It only sees the host communities as a chattel. It is with this in mind that I wish to inform the President, that, Shell Oil Company cannot kill Ken Saro Wiwa, refused to own up and make public apology and be accepted in our communities. If Shell Oil Company would continue to do business, it is not only a duty but incumbent upon it to stand up and own up to its wrongful behavior and practices as well as accepting to comply with environmental challenges. It is only following, that there could be a leeway for Nigeria in Ogoni and the Niger Delta. Mr. President, if these chronic issues are not honestly and urgently addressed, make no mistakes, the direction of the looming crisis in the Niger Delta would remain largely unknown.
Pius Barikpoa Nwinee
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