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(NUOS INTL), USA: SPEECH ON THE 12TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JUDICIAL HANGING OF KEN SARO WIWA

NOVEMBER 10TH 2007

Fellow Students and Ogonis,
Friends, Supporters of Human Rights and Environment.
All protocols observed

Today marks the 12th agonizing year of the judicial execution by hanging of Ken Saro Wiwa, and eight other human and environmental rights crusaders: – Dr. Barimen Kiobel, John Kpuinen, Saturday Doobee, Paul Levura, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Daniel Gbokoo, and Nodu Eawo. These men of valor were matched, against their will,  to the gallows by the Nigerian State under Gen Sani Abacha on Nov. 10,1995.This was in criminal conspiracy with Shell Oil Company for daring to speak against human rights abuses in Ogoni and the defacement of the Niger Delta environment. Shell Oil and the Nigerian State martyred these men in netted conspiracy with other unknown Petro-Dollar conspirators and governments. To these ark angels of death, no body stands on the path of Shell Oil and the Oil industry, no matter how altruistic or just his/her cause.

We would like to use this occasion of 12th anniversary of the heinous murder of Ogoni heroes to convey to them, that, although we may have been smeared, we are alive and blooming. We are sure we will rise and blossom and rekindle this struggle for which our heroes died. Surely, their death will not be in vain even though we stagger on our march towards real freedom. We would remind them of a famous eulogy by Chief Edward Kobani, a founding father of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), at the grave-side of Mr.Agbarator Otu, an Ogoni son murdered by Shell Oil. His words, “When blood has been split, there is no going back”

My people, it is regrettable that 12 years after, the Ogoni nation and the entire Niger Delta region have been consumed by fear, cultism and insecurity. This trio has become the daily companion and experience of our civil society. Our governments and their agents are coerced by Shell Oil and other world giants to implement agenda of fear and insecurity whilst the pipeline that criss-cross our communities continually delivers oil into waiting ships off the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in a manner that reminisces the loading of ebullient African Youths into slavery centuries ago. Has slave trade stopped? NO, it has only been replaced by the trade in crude oil. Although, we are alive, we’ve slept these twelve years whilst our enemies’ scheme and plan at board meetings and dinner tables on new plots to exterminate us as a people. I know you deserve and desire good things of life, but as Dr. Martin Luther Jr.said, “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live…. because freedom is not voluntarily given to the oppressed.”

Since freedom is never voluntarily given to the oppressed, we call on Ogonis at home and in the diaspora, politicians, friends, human rights activists and supporters of the Ogoni struggle to support the demand for the creation of an Ogoni State. An Ogoni state would guarantee self autonomy, protect her environment, address the loop-sided and imbalances in state creation in Nigeria where dominant Hausa North has – 17, Yoruba -9, minorities- 4). It would guarantee the establishment of universities and colleges in Ogoniland. It would guarantee the establishment of children and specialist hospitals (all of which are lacking), in Ogoniland. We may inform that Ogoni State, a minimum demand of the Ogoni people (enshrined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights) is a right, not a privilege. It predates the willinks commission of 1958. Ogoni students will ever live to pursue this right for the 2.3m Ogoni people until freedom is attained.

We have read the Nigerian government’s Master Plan for the Niger Delta. We welcome genuine efforts resolving the impropriety and criminal negligence against Ogoni and the Niger Delta region. But we observed, the Niger Delta plan being paraded by the Nigerian government is not people- oriented. It is designed by the Oil corporations and do not have respect for the environment. It is designed so that transatlantic corporations could bid and win contracts for the redevelopment of the Niger Delta with Nigerians paying for them through barrels of oil.  If Nigeria is sincere, let it accommodate inputs from individual communities in the Niger Delta and initiate a referendum on the issues raised. We are sure (in a referendum) the conspiracy between government and corporate Oil lords would be overturned by the people’s power. We are in a democracy and we cannot be blindfolded forever.

Ultimately, we shan’t be deterred by a floored Niger Delta master plan. In 2008, we shall present Ogoni demand for autonomy (within) Nigeria to President Alhaji Umaru Yar-adua, and the National Assembly. We would tell Nigeria, that, if Ogoni people would negotiate, it would only be in an Ogoni state. This is the stance of the Ogoni people. No individual or group can change this position. For now, Shell Oil Company remains persona non grata in Ogoniland. Second, we would want them to rehabilitate the victims of the Ogoni, Umuechem and Odi massacre by re- building the villages and payment of adequate compensation. Third, we would want them to exonerate Ken Saro Wiwa and others of frivolous charges; so, we could give them the heroic burial befitting to their status.

My people do not rest on your laurel or seat on the aisle and engage in bitter quarrels with one another. We should realize that the enemies have multiplied. Yesterday, we were struggling to end the flaring of 70 m tones of carbon dioxide emitted yearly into the Niger Delta environment. Today, we are seeing the bitter policies by Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, ELF, Agip that feed and fuel violence and corruption in the Niger Delta. We are witnesses to the “new scramble for Africa” by the United States, China, Britain, France, Australia and Germany etc. We have seen Africa Command (AFRICOM). We are witnesses to the renewed Human right abuses -most recently in Goi clan in Tai. We have equally noted a flow of state sponsored weapons into Ogoniland and the Niger Delta. We have also seen our own politicians threaten and put opponents out of our communities.

Fellow Students, and comrades, Ken Saro Wiwa wouldn’t have spoken more clearer than he did thus: “Arise, Ogoni people arise, we shall not be oppressed”. In putting forward our petition for an Ogoni state today, permit me again to revisit the address by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the SCLC Ministers Leadership Training Program, Miami, 1968, “On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question “Is it politic?” And vanity comes along and asks the question “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular, but, he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. My people, Ogoni State is Right!

Thank you. Long Live Ogoni Nation!

Being text of message delivered by KorneBari Nwike, President National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS INTL), USA on behalf of the organization, Nov.10th 2007. To sign petition, visit: www.nuos-international.org  email: [email protected] 

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