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Open Letter to President Yar-Adua from Ogoni Students (NUOS Intl) USA

Dear Editor,

The National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS Intl.) USA observed the 13th anniversary of the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa on Saturday November 8, 2008 at the Harris Stowe University St. Louis, MO. The attached file contains decisions reached at the gathering. It will be a great help if you can publish the above decisions taged “Open Letter to President Yar-Adua.” I appreciate your good help in the past. And I’ll also appreciate if you use your good offices to publish this letter again. Thank you.

Austin Lemea

Secretary  

NATIONAL UNION OF OGONI STUDENTS’ USA

(NUOS INTL. USA)

3116 W. DEVON AVE. SUITE #204

CHICAGO ILLINIOS 606059

Ph: 773-250-7004~ Fax: 773-572-4544

E-mail: [email protected]

www.nuos-international.org 

November 10, 2008 

His Excellency, President Musa Yar-Adua

Presidential Villa, Aso Rock

Abuja, Nigeria.

 THE LETTER

His Excellency President Yar-Adua: 

 OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ALHAJI MUSA YAR-ADUA, ON THE 13TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HANGING OF KEN SARO-WIWA 

The Ogoni people and supporters across the globe were thrilled by your decision in June, 2008 to expel Shell Oil Company from Ogoniland to give way to a new oil operator.

We laud and express gratitude immensely to you for that singular decision against a “lorded” multinational oil firm, Shell Oil Company. Your courage and emboldened leadership lay to rest a teething chapter in the Ogoni struggle for justice, equity and fair play. Also, it is our awful disbelief that you created a political, bureaucratic edifice in the name of ministry of the Niger Delta as a panacea to the crisis in that region of Nigeria. It is interesting to point out that such political structure is only a window dresser, an ideological brain rape aimed at whipping the troops into line. Niger Deltans must be wise and see beyond the rims of their ideological blinders. The absolute solution to the crisis in the Niger Delta is the creation of more States for the people of the region and the review of the trial of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his compatriots. Mr. President, Nigeria is one of the blessed nations on earth and we could do better than setting up a Ministry to address 50 years of criminal negligence of our people. If Wen Jiabao of China could positively transform Chinese infrastructure, economic, scientific, technological and political systems, you could as well measure up to such feat. 

Now on the issue of a new oil operator to harness the Ogoni oil field, let’s be candid and categorically clear; without genuine negotiation with the Ogoni people you should forget oil extraction in Ogoniland. There are key issues that must primarily be address: resource control, percentage of indigenous participation, shareholding, employment in management and rank levels, environmental liabilities and remediation, trust-fund and education of Ogoni youths/students and creation of Ogoni state. The Ogoni/Nigerian government gridlock is not in the interest of the Nigerian nation. The Ogoni people have been consistent in maintaining their openness to genuine dialogue devoid of secrecy and over-involved by selected elite who brand themselves “stakeholders.”  One key note, if the government is truly interested in the Ogoni Oil block; she must not be the only elephant in the room. She must call for genuine summit where Ogonis must have input into who becomes a part of an international arbitration panel to mediate in the Ogoni and federal government feud now that Shell Oil Company (one of the most vicious oil operators) has been kept at bay. This is an era of participatory democracy and our people detest being commandeered and forced to accept new oil operator(s) whom we have not vetted. We want to partake in such decision so as to know the company’s human and environmental records and to acquaint ourselves with their technical expertise. 

We have also been stunned that your administration continue to negotiate with companies jolting to take over the Ogoni oil block without due consultation with the Ogoni people. Gazprom a Russian firm, some Chinese and Indian firms and other Nigerian firms like Afren are in the mix. It is worthy of mention that your honorable adviser on energy matters, Dr. Rilwanu Luknam is the chairman of Afren and Egbert Imomoh the executive chairman, is a former Deputy Managing Director of Shell Oil Company. How do you think this will resonate with the Ogoni people? These are areas where we need common ground because the Ogoni people are becoming agitated and their patience growing thinner. It is crystal clear that without an Ogoni State, we shall shut our door against any so called new oil operator(s).This is a crucial benchmark beholding to the Ogoni people considering the 50 years of government neglect and the stunning amount of oil and gas wealth endeared in Ogoniland. Ogoniland holds about 250,000 barrels of oil per day and 10 trillion cubic metres of gas. 

May we remind you that Nigeria is a signatory to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. According to the charter, “All peoples shall freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources….and All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind.” We, the Ogoni people hold dearly to the above clause as well. We must take part in disposing our oil wealth because oil does not remain ad infinitum. Recall, Mr. Richard Ogunde, General Manager, Nigerian Agip Oil Exploration debunked doubters who thought oil would remain endless. In his words, “Nigeria Oil reserve would dry-up in 43 years because for now there remains only 36.2 billion barrels.” The bottom line is, we do not want to be shaded a second time. Rev. Fr. Hassan Kukah, an Obasanjo emissary to Ogoni taught us unforgettable lessons and we are up on our heels. We must talk because fossil fuel is toxic and exhaustible as well. 

It is important for the government to know that although the Ogoni people have mandated MOSOP to speak on its behalf, the present leadership of the organization (under Ledum Mitee) has failed the test of trustworthiness and accountability. His Judaic symbolism in the betrayal of the Ogoni 9 is evident. Government and Shell Oil Company used him to betray the Ogoni 9 and are still using him to further erode and sabotage the Ogoni struggle. Due to skeletons in his cupboard, he has evaded advocating for the retrial of Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni nine. His nefarious nepotic inclination has attributed to why he has kept mute over the demand of the Ogoni people for an Ogoni State. He has refused profoundly to vacate office after 12 years as MOSOP President. The constitution of MOSOP and the Ogoni Bills of Rights (OBR) means absolutely nothing to him. In the darkest days of the Ogoni struggle, he aligned with Shell Oil Company and government; receiving contracts and stipends and clearly involved in nepotic practices against the wishes of Ogoni. His role as an adversary is clear. Now that Shell Oil Company is out of Ogoni, he and his surrogates inter- alia cabinet should as well leave the scene. We do not want any of them on the negotiating table on behalf of Ogoni. They must go with Shell! It is an established fact that the Ogoni struggle was plaque by both internal and external adversaries, Shell Oil Company is one and Ledum Mitee another. Now that Shell Oil is out of Ogoni, Ledum Mitee must excuse himself as well. 

As a way forward, we are urging the Nigerian government to arrange for a meeting where a choice of an arbitrator would be reached so that a comprehensive talk would take-off between the Ogoni people and Federal government of Nigeria. We have lists of unpolluted Ogoni sons and daughters who are willing to represent Ogoni people in any such parley.  We must recount that many groups have splintered in Ogoni since your pronouncement in South Africa. Some are asking for membership on the board of directors of any new company and some have resorted to asking for contracts. These groups are drowning in personal interest/aggrandizement and do not represent Ogoni and therefore must be avoided. 

We are bewildered by your unilateral decision to create the Ministry of the Niger Delta. With good intent and purpose, we commend you for taking a first step towards the actualization of the agitation of the Niger Delta people. Permit us to point out that Ministry of the Niger Delta is a diversion of the people of the Niger Delta from their request for Resource Control. The ministry is only a salvo designed to put “lipstick on the pig.” The question is what impact did the various commissions; OMPADEC, NDDC etc created by successive administrations had on the people of the region? None! Absolutely none! We see this ministry from a prism, and it’s a political endeavor, a window dresser created to buy time and distract Niger Deltans from their genuine agitation. If Mr. President is serious about resolving the Niger Delta question, he should initiate a referendum and follow up with a bill in the National Assembly. For a reminder, Mr. President, the Niger Delta wants more states in the region. Ogoni, Kengema, Abaji States, etc could have greater and far reaching effects on the region than a ministry of the Niger Delta.  

Finally, we want to inform you that whilst the Ogoni people remain steadfast in their agitation, we are willing to converse on a negotiating table to bring to fruition years of fruitless and bitter gridlock between the Ogoni people, Shell Oil and Nigerian government. We expect the government to embark on wider consultation and agree on an international arbitrator who will meet Ogoni representatives for a way forward. Above all, Ministry of the Niger Delta must not truncate our ideological and collective commitment to the greater cause of the Niger Delta people. To resolve the Niger Delta question, President Yar- Adua, must follow through with his promise; muster enough courage, put country first and emulate the undaunting qualities of great empire builders like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Manmohan Singh of India, and Mr. Wen Jiabao of China. There must be participatory democracy and a protagonistic system where the people leads if Nigeria would emerge on world stage like China, Venezuala and India. The Niger Delta question, imposition of new oil operator on Ogoni people and retrial of Ken Saro-Wiwa are test cases. We are not going to standby to see Ogonis and Niger Deltans whipped into line in a democracy. We must negotiate! 

We are, on behalf of the National Union of Ogoni Students’ USA. 

Yours truly, 

 KorneBari Nwike                                                                        Austin Lemea

  (President)                                                                                    (Secretary) 

Cc:

  1. Mr. Ki Ban Moon (Secretary General), United Nations. 
  1. M.S Robin Sanders, United States Ambassador to Nigeria. 
  1. The Secretary General, Unrepresented Nations and People Organization (UNPO). 
  1. The Nigerian Ambassador to United States.

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