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The Tide Online: Ogoni, Shell and due process

• Monday, Mar 24, 2008

Before 1776, the American people had faith and belief in what they can do to get freedom and to rule themselves. Their belief is stated in the American Charter as follows: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuits of happiness.”

One of the biggest problems in Africa including Nigeria today is that there are people who still think that some tribes or people are inferior to others. Such people occupy themselves with these outdated idea and refuse to be in touch with the current realities of life. For instance, God blessed Nigeria and gave us numerous mineral resources including agricultural products for us to develop and improve our well-being. We saw what happen in the days of cocoa and groundnut pyramids. Farmers were better off with what they produced.

Unfortunately, the discovery of crude oil in Nigeria especially in Ogoni land has brought tears, sorrowful pains to the people of Ogoni. What is common now is pollution of all kinds. In the midst of this Ogonis are treated by both the Federal Government and Shell as slaves in their own land. However, in 1990 when the case of poverty and under-development became so unbearable and the Ogoni’s protested against further exploration, degradation, environmental pollution among others to the Federal Government that did not help matters rather prominent Ogoni sons were killed.

Somehow, before the death of Ken Saro Wiwa who was the spokesperson of MOSOP, he duly registered the Ogoni case especially how Shell activities in Ogoni land has worked against the well being of the Ogonis. Shell’s lack of administrative acumen and poor public relations, management has not helped the situation. They still adopt the divide and rule system from the British government to cause acrimony and disunity.

To place it on record, Nigeria has in the past also suffered some administrative blunder and shortsightedness which resulted in the Nigerian “Civil War. To keep the record straight, the Ogoni used peaceful means and demonstration to banish Shell from all their oil field. Today, Nigeria still suffers some administrative cumbersomeness which has dwarfed our progress.

The country still experience poverty irrespective of its rich oil. Nigeria despite its crude oil is still galloping in under-development; this is because of the greed of its leaders as they still operate under the influence of brutalisation and segregation which has manifested in the Ogoni crisis. Shell in their insensitive manner has drilled billions of dollar worth of oil from Ogoni while the communities are only compensated with blood bath, pain, neglect, tears and sorrow.

The black-gold has continued to traumatised the people with cases of oil spill, water pollution, environmental degradation and above all political crises being experienced every now and then.

It is regrettable that few faceless and shameless Ogoni youths have colluded with this unsympathetic organisation to wreck havoc in the area through the reported brutalisation of about 200 hundred women in K. Dere Community who came to protest the secret re-entrance of Shell in Ogoni. MOSOP alleged that Shell is using some military personnel to start oil operations in some specific locations in Ogoni especially in Ebubu Eleme, K. Dere in Gokana, Tai and Yola in Khana. The world should know now that the peaceful war fought by the Ogonis ten years ago will not be forgotten so easily as Shell allegedly re-enters Ogoni through the back door.

The demand of the Ogonis are surmountable as it touches on appointment of the Ogonis in Federal position, like N.D.D.C., employment of Ogoni youths, building of roads and electricity and other social amenities. The eight years of Obasanjo administration has yielded little result in the struggle of Ogoni people. One will always give kudos to the Ogonis who resolved to peaceful demonstration to banish Shell from its land.

Shell and Ogoni through the Rev. Fr. Hassan Matthew Kukah was a social jamboree. It is a known fact that Shell is the father of divide and rule system. Just as Marshall Foch once said of art of War; “It is simple in its conception but unfortunately complicated in its execution” this is the problem Shell find within themselves.

One will remember that after many years of bloodbath, social neglect, environmental degradation, Shell is yet to feel remorse. If Shell can lie against the government it is enough reason to send them packing. This act is degrading. Even in the ILO convention No. 169 Article 7, it states among others, “that the people will exercise control over their own economic, social and cultural development, to take measure to protect and preserve the environment of the territories inhabited by their people.”

One important question for Shell to answer is did the Rev. Fr. Kukah reconciliatory panel ask Shell to clandestinely resume operation in Ogoni without due process and rule of law?

The Ogoni people must continue to have confidence in the administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to speedily settle this Ogoni issues permanently.

Pius Dukor writes from Port Harcourt

http://www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=03/24/2008&qrTitle=Ogoni,%20Shell%20and%20due%20process&qrColumn=OPINION

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