OGONI, OF AGITATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT, THE PATH FOR SOCIETAL TRANSFORMATION BY MONDAY NEEKA ZIINU

The pertinence of this write up is as it seeks to address the upsurge of charade of propagandists’ slogan across Ogoni land that “the time of agitations has ended, and that time for development should begin”. The argument put up is that Ogoni people have been agitating for so long, that they should stop in order to give way for development to begin or blossom.

The terminologies brought under study here are agitations and development. Does it really apply that agitations would have to stop for development to start or that both terms work in mix to produce an outcome.

According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, agitation means “when you are anxious, nervous” and ”an agitator is someone who encourages people to work towards changing something in society”. Development ”is the process of gradually becoming bigger, better or more advanced; it is process of increasing business, trade and industrial activity”.

The question following from the meanings so given is; do we have to say that Ogoni people should stop been anxious and nervous about encouraging themselves to work towards bringing change in the condition of their environment and life so that the process of increasing business, trade and industrial activities would start?

In the words of Frederick Douglass “those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitations, are men who want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters”. In order word, there is no way one would talk about development, achieving better life, without the attendant agitations to pull the cords for the change.

Robert Peel succinctly puts it that “agitation is the marshalling of the conscience of nation to mold its laws”. It is bare to our understanding here that even the laws of a nation derive or are formulated on the desires and agitations of the people who are members of that state.

One as well can look at what is written in the Christian Bible (2 Timothy 1:6-7) “wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind”.  It requires that   
we have to stir up, agitate, to be able to bring into manifestation the blessing God has put in place for us. Silence is never a condition for any movement forward or development.

It is instructive to appreciate that no development process ever occurs without people’s drive to effect change. All discoveries and developments through the ages have been from curiosity on part of individuals or group to bring change, to produce something more pleasant and of greater advantage.

The Ogoni situation is one where the people need to reorganize, unite, stir up themselves to continue to ask for solutions to human and environmental rights abuse. No life thrives in polluted, despoiled and degraded environment like the Ogoni people are forced into in Nigeria. Deliberate policies, programmes and laws need to be put in place to address the issues. The people need to continue agitation to press for their demands. Silence is guaranteed only in the graveyard.

What the people confront as ever is greed. In a nation where government exploits and predates on its people instead of developing them. In society where oil companies rule and reign without any control or check mechanism. In an environment where individuals or groups offer themselves to play the role of agents in plans and actions to destroy their own communities and people for their selfish consideration, it has really been difficult.

The philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore has stated that ”greed… has pity neither for beautiful nature nor for living human beings. It is ruthlessly ready without moment’s hesitation to crush beauty and life out of them, molding them into money”. This paints vivid picture of the dead situation Ogoni people are into. Ravaged under crushing teeth of state authorities and agencies, oil companies and individuals who choose to run agents for them. The furnace of oppression is burning. Money remains the ultimate, well and high above life of the people. That is why provision of water which government should ordinarily provide for its people has become big issue. Officers and persons cutting corners to sabotage it even after UNEP has clearly recommended as an emergency measure to help the people.

It would be an ignoble effort and drive of the oppressor, killer to call or press that Ogoni people be silent, stop agitations, even when in the glare their environment and life are at risk of extinction.


DCN, Monday Neka Ziinu is General Secretary of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP. He wrote from Bori, Ogoni