My Dearest Ogoni Brothers, Sisters and friends of our great and just struggle for self-determination, I bring you warm greetings in the name of Gbene Ogoni.
As an Ogoni man, it is a privilege to be alive this moment in history witnessing and recording happenings surrounding Ogoni, especially its movement, MOSOP. It therefore pleases me to note that the Ogoni struggle through which we are peacefully and nonviolently demanding our economic, political and sociocultural rights hence autonomy alongside environmental justice lives on.
This is despite the many challenges, especially the oil and politically motivated crisis and violence imposed on Ogoni by Nigeria. Irrespective of Nigeria and $hell's nonstop repression, brazen lies and lack of development, and the immoral pressure on Ogonis to resume oil production in the midst of 50 years pollution and degradation they recklessly caused while making billions of dollars, but not honest nor serious about cleaning, Ogoni and MOSOP is still marching on.
The simple reason Ogoni and MOSOP continue to wax on and will not cease is because the Ogoni struggle is a just, peaceful, honorable and moral one. It is an honest and community orienting, educational, enlightenment and liberation movement which every struggling and oppressed individual, groups, nations or entities can relate. Although it is twenty six years into the Ogoni struggle so people will expect some positive steps taken by any honest and conscientious government that cares to redressing the oppression of the past, it is not a surprise that Nigeria and its successive regimes have not deemed it fit to respect, listen to, and resolve any of the demands presented by Ogonis. These demands presented in 1990 to Nigeria are contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR).
In summary, these demands are political and economic autonomy; the development, practice and protection of sociocultural rights; environmental protection and justice; the right to develop, speak and teach Ogoni languages and dialects in Ogoni territory against the imposition of other Nigerian languages on Ogoni; adequate and direct representation in all national institutions in the country.
I am deeply sadden waking up every day to realize that none of these demands have been met. Not even clean pipe-borne water, electricity and working hospitals, good roads and schools are granted Ogonis. The lack of development, backwardness and negativity associated with Ogoni is massive. This predicament is courtesy the Nigerian government, $hell Oil and other oil firms which have exploited, dangerously polluted and benefited from Ogoni.
Royal Dutch $hell, and its Nigerian subsidiary's irresponsible and diabolical moves to resisting any genuine efforts by Ogonis and their friends/supporters aimed at demanding that they accept responsibility for their inhumane actions against Ogoni represents the same $hell we knew from 1993 to 1995. This was when they monitored and harassed Ken Saro-Wiwa, and in conspiracy with Nigeria ensured he was trapped, trumped-up and murdered by hanging with eight other Ogonis. It is this same $hell that from 1958, when it first struck oil in Ogoni and subsequently, value profit than human dignity and lives. This environmentally racist and terrorist company values money or profit than environmental safety and protection.
Ironically and shamefully, Ogonis are still their landlords whose land they have ruined. They made hundreds of billions of dollars in collusion with Nigeria, and left Ogoni desolate. They harassed, attempted to intimidate, unlawfully and arbitrarily arrested and detained then killed Ogonis when the people complained about pollution; requested adequate compensation, and demanded that their natural/human rights should be respected.
As mentioned earlier, instead of treating Ogonis with dignity and respect then grant the people's demands which are just; will conduce to peace, and does not deny the rights of anyone or group----not the Federal government nor $hell, or any other entity, every year the Nigerian government, $hell and other oil extractive firms have wickedly and shamelessly continued to pressure Ogonis for the resumption of oil production.
They've divided, still dividing, and reportedly bribing some Ogonis who make themselves small and weak, so that oil production will resume in a chemically charged and degraded environment. The UNEP report and recommendations, which states among others that all oil production should stop if projected cleanup and restoration will succeed has not deterred these evil entities.
This brings me to the concerns I expressed when Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara's-led MOSOP and Ogoni Solidarity Forum and others accepted the Goodluck Jonathan's created Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP, now said to be reformed) over UNEP recommended Ogoni Environmental Restoration Authority (OERA). The views expressed to wit issues I raised have proven to be factual thus standing the test of time. Because of this unreasonable and faulty acceptance of HYPREP which threw the UNEP recommended localization of the Ogoni cleanup project into a national GREED and INFLUENCE, MANIPULATION struggle, more than four years since Buhari took office nothing tangible has been accomplished by HYPREP. Recall that UNEP projected that Ogoni cleanup and restoration would take between 25 to 30 years. If Nigeria and Buhari understands the slightest of what they are doing so honest and serious, therefore not lying, when will the assessment and cleanup in other oil communities start; will they wait 25 to 30 years when Ogoni project is completed, if 8 years after UNEP report nothing remarkable but media talks and lies can be seen?
Of course, HYPREP is not independent of the government and oil companies, which are the criminal polluters and environmental terrorists. In addition, one of the National Project Coordinator of HYPREP's work is to protect his employers---the Nigerian government and $hell, etc. In this case the National Coordinator of HYPREP is indeed an Ogoni. He has genuine love for Ogoni and would work hard for its best interest if not in the kind of country he is that will make it easy for him to be manipulated, influenced and threatened by the powers that be when they deem necessary. His name is Dr. Marvin Dekil.
As the Project Coordinator's comments in a video titled: Ogoni Cleanup Conference, published on August 13, 2018 shows, Dr. Dekil has no power to plan and implement any element of the project without authorization from the Governing Council and Board of Trustees of HYPREP.
Members of these management entities of HYPREP are largely non-Ogonis. They include $hell, NNPC, other oil majors and the Ministries of Petroleum Resources and Environment representatives whose sole objective is to protect the interest of the oil companies and the Nigerian government respectively. The representatives from other oil producing communities in the management team are also interested in the rights and benefits of their communities thus focusing on such interest. Civil society groups have representatives in HYPREP management team as well. In Nigeria self and ethnic interest supersede ethical and professional behavior. Where few with upright and professional attitude exist as exception to the norm, they may not form a force to change anything in a dictatorial setting that is Nigeria. This is a country where human emergencies and suffering, public opinion hardly move a pin toward change.
In contrast to HYPREP, Ogoni Environmental Restoration Authority should have localized the Ogoni project as recommended by UNEP, and like thousands of other projects in several communities of Nigeria that are worth billions of dollars being localized as they should be. But because of oppression and suppression or repression------signs of unseriousness and dishonesty, the Nigerian government ensured that the Ogoni project take a different turn. It is thus made a national (political) project, which attracts numerous interests and opens the way for bad bureaucracy, manipulation and delays; misappropriation and corruption.
If the Nigerian government did not impose HYPREP on Ogoni to the point that MOSOP leadership and others felt they had no option but to accept it (when there were options), and Ogoni Environmental Restoration Authority had taken root as the management and operational agency or authority as designed, the Ogoni cleanup project should have avoided all such interest groups, fault-lines and negativity. MOSOP should also have rejected $hell and NNPC, Ministry of Petroleum Resources and other polluters (in particular) or conspirators as management members of HYPREP. It is common sense that a criminal can not be the judge in his or her own case. Let me be clear: the localization of the Ogoni project will not have been perfect but it should have been different, and the management should have been more open and honest, serious to implementing UNEP recommendations, and anxious about becoming successful.
Interestingly, UNEP experts who are experienced in this field were clear, and specific in their recommendations. Their experience may have included the kinds of negative results possible in a situation where multiple interests surrounds environmental cleanup and restoration project. They will therefore not be surprised to see how such multiplicity of interests, particularly in a corruption ridden country such as Nigeria has affected and could possibly derail the project.
UNEP rightly recommended that Ogoni cleanup project should be specifically for Ogoni given the scope of assessment conducted in Ogoni alone, as they were commissioned to do. It also said all money raised for the Ogoni project should be used for the cleanup and capacity building, employment-----restoration of livelihoods in Ogoni alone. Whatever experience and success achieved in Ogoni as a result of the cleanup and restoration work will help guide subsequent cleanup programs in other communities in Nigeria, especially Niger delta's oil producing communities, the United Nations agency wrote.
If UNEP has not been compromised by the Nigerian government and $hell, and still has integrity, it will not be surprised but upset at what has happened to this project despite its seemingly powerless status. UNEP should be upset that out of $1 billion it recommended as the first five years take-off fees, only the sum of $180 million (dollars) have been raised in more than four years by the Buhari-led government, which control billions of oil money, other assets, and the oil companies, which flows in billions of dollars.
This is shameful when considering that in more than four years of Buhari's regime none of the emergency items recommended has been accomplished. Not even clean pipe-borne water, active health registry and effective hospital facilities have been implemented. The exception is HYPREP's reported twenty thousand Ogonis who got health evaluation and about 400 surgical work it claimed to have done, but did not say what health conditions resulted in the surgery.
The recommended Center for Excellence and Soil Management facility, which will engender and sustain capacity building have been ignored or rejected by Buhari, $hell and co. Instead they have decided to make no sense or mockery of themselves by sending Environment Ministry, HYPREP and other government officials to the UK for the same purpose this Soil Management Facility and center was designed. They also reported to have trained or will train Ogonis and non-Ogonis selected in Switzerland instead of building these facilities in Ogoni to facilitate the project and also serve the need of other communities when their environment will be assessed for pollution and levels of contamination, and cleanup will commence.
With this approach it is evident the Nigerian government and $hell are lying to themselves. They are not and can not lie to Ogonis nor the world regarding their interest in developing capacities of Ogonis and restoring their livelihoods. Gross incompetence and wickedness is what they have shown the world. And with the way things are, despite the talks about processes and the mobilization of contractors to pollution impacted sites by HYPREP, it seems Buhari and Nigeria, $hell oil and other oil firms are mostly interested in the resumption of oil production in Ogoni.
They appears not honest nor serious about cleaning up their 50 years pollution, and the restoration of the land and people. HYPREP, which recently responded with the weakest answers to Premium Times report, that states that most of these contractors are unqualified, because they have no oil pollution cleanup and remediation experience, is not calling out Buhari and government oil companies such as NNPC/NPDC; it is not calling out $hell, Robo Michael and Belema Oil, or any other oil firms pushing and causing crisis and violence in Ogoni to possibly create a restive environment that will lead to military invasion and occupation, and the forceful resumption of oil production.
In any case, Ogonis must be wiser and stay alert. Unity and information gathering and sharing, collaboration, lasting communal peace and harmony is needed the most. Honesty and the strongest commitment, love while resisting and exposing the enemies is essential. Organizing and mobilizing, speaking truth to power with courage and boldness is needed now than ever if Ogonis will triumph over the Nigeria government, $hell Oil and other co-conspirators and detractors.