The Ogoni Case is Test for Our Humanity by Fegalo Nsuke
The Ogoni demand for justice in Nigeria was overwhelmingly popular not just because of the palpable cheat and oppressive system which the Nigerian government represented but the courage of the Ogoni people to confront a brutal multinational which masked itself as a company but actually is a government of some sort dictating what happens and what does not within Nigeria.
Shell very well understand its double standards and how it has, with the cooperation of the Nigerian military and government officials impoverished the Ogoni. The company and the government celebrated the Ogoni deprivations as they were certain that we have lost our pride and identity. In Shell’s contemplation, the genocide against the Ogoni people was to be successfully prosecuted with the certainty that Ogoni will never be able to question those misdeeds.
T.N. Paul Birabi, the first Ogoni university graduate whose live was dedicated to the education and upliftment of the Ogoni people had been killed in 1953 and seemingly, there wasn’t any other who could come to the rescue of the Ogoni people.
Then, in 1990, Ken Saro-Wiwa initiated a novel idea for the emancipation of the Ogoni people designing a non-violent mass agitation that changed the narrative, mobilizing the Ogoni under the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).
As usual, Shell’s response was to divide the people with the hope of killing the new awakening. But MOSOP was not just a movement but an idea. A consciousness that revealed the exploitation of the Ogoni people and committed the people to a process that should restore their dignity.
In 1995, Shell succeeded not just through bribery but also asserted its role as the one who decides the direction the pendulum swings in Nigeria when it got Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others murdered by the Nigerian state on November 10, 1995.
A dark shadow was again cast over Ogoni. Ken Saro-Wiwa had been killed by the Nigerian government just to have Shell Petroleum Development Company return to the Ogoni drilling fields. Then the government officially approved the killing of Ogoni activists causing the death of over 4,000 persons. Our people were massacred, women and children were abused, all to have Shell return to drill in Ogoni.
Ken’s murder along with eight others was painful because they were all innocent. It is the reason MOSOP today has placed their exoneration as critical to the resolution of the Ogoni problem. We know and understand that Ken in particular was dear to the Ogoni people just as the other eight were to their families and they were killed in their innocence therefore it could really be difficult to resolve the Ogoni problem without Ken’s exoneration along with the eight others who were killed with him.
Nearly 25years after Ken Saro-Wiwa’s murder, nothing has changed for the Ogoni people. Rather than focus on respect for the rights of the people, Nigeria’s interest remains on how to drill the Ogoni oil and exploit her huge gas resources without any benefits for the Ogoni people.
The Ogoni have become strangled in a Shell orchestrated deception. While the Ogoni people want freedom from the current political strangulation, economic repression and environmental devastation, the government and Shell will want to embellish and misguide the world about its crimes against the Ogoni people.
The genocide against the Ogoni people continues even in present day. Over $200billion is estimated to have been taken out of Ogoni and nothing put back to help the people. No safe drinking water, no schools, electricity, roads, jobs, infrastructure and security. All the monies generated out of Ogoni have built other Nigerian cities while the Ogoni from whose land the resources have been generated are left to suffer the consequences of natural resource exploitation.
The Nigerian government and Shell Petroleum Company will pretend not to be clear on the message coming out of Ogoni and will want to mislead the public about the realities in Ogoni. But the fact remains that Shell’s activities had passed a death sentence on the Ogoni people and its environment. This has been worsened by a deliberate policy of government to abandon the people to a condition where death become inevitable so the people can let go the clamor for justice.
What Shell has done to Ogoni is racist. The Ogoni people have come to that realization and made bold their demands and resolutions in the document titled “The Ogoni Bill of Rights”.
The Ogoni Bill of Rights summarizes the Ogoni demands for Self Determination as a solution to the violations, discrimination and repression
That is the reality of the Ogoni situation. With its enormous oil and gas resources, Ogoni can generate more revenue than 20 Nigerian states put together. It is extremely unjust to take away the Ogoni resources and leave nothing back for the people. We can no longer sit back, grappling with the consequences of natural resource exploitation while the huge revenues generated from Ogoni is used to fund the budgets of poor Nigerian states created to please rulers, their families and friends and the land from where revenues are generated left to die.
Nigeria should not be allowed to sustain these injustices against the Ogoni people. It is time for the world to not only voice its commitment to the safety of humanity but also stand up for the good of societies oppressed and suppressed by strong governments desperate to sustain unjust systems and not minding the consequences and implications on the lives of peoples.
The Ogoni case tests our humanity not only as a nation but as a world where people depend on each other.
Ogoni is counting on the conscience of the world to rescue over one million people threatened by a combination of corporate wickedness from Shell Petroleum Development Company and Nigeria’s military repression and oppressive laws.
The Ogoni people are going extinct and we must all stand up for the rescue. The natural endowments of the Ogoni people should be a blessing and not a curse.
The way to go is for the rights of the Ogoni people to Self Determination as a distinct ethnic nationality in Nigeria to be respected. It is a human right.
Fegalo Nsuke is president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP. He wrote from Abuja, Nigeria.