Today has always been a special day in the life of the Ogoni people. Since 1993 when we first marked this day in commemoration of the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, it has occupied a special place in our lives. At different times, we have failed to mark it, especially during the repressive years. Then came the challenge from Diigbo’s OCIA which chased us out of the venue on a number of occasions.
The situation has now taken a new dimension. In January 2020, I was placed under Police detention while the government and their allies occupied the traditional venue of the event. In 2021, they used violence and thuggery against us although we still managed to converge for the event.
Today, the very Rivers State Government which provided the logistics for the kangaroo trial and hanging of our leaders on November 10, 1995 and facilitated the killing of some 4,000 others by the Paul Okuntime-led Internal Security Task Force have fixed a political rally right at the venue of the event thus preventing us from having our day peacefully. In response to this, we should be thinking of reverting back to the strategies we adopted during the repressive years including holding our day at a different and safer location.
I commend your peaceful disposition despite the provocations and urge you to sustain our peaceful methods no matter how agitated you could be.
I have stated recently and we have agreed during the last Central Committee meeting to work to reverse the current trend where our collective aspirations and sacrifices appear to be crystallizing into the pockets of few individuals. While we work tenaciously to sustain the struggle for the good of every Ogoni, some few individuals have commercialized our struggle for personal gains and we should resist such moves.
In this respect, we considered and approved, at the Central Committee level, to engage with relevant authorities and stakeholders on the best ways to drive home the benefits of our struggle and God-given resources.
I call on every Ogoni to support this new initiative if we do not want to see the rewards for our struggles of these years ending in the pockets of some few individuals.
I urge you to hold fast not only to the struggle but also work for the vision of the struggle. Our struggle was a revolt against underdevelopment and our focus at this time should be redirected to that vision for development.
We have proposed the implementation of the Ogoni Development Authority which is a detailed and actionable format of the Ogoni Bill of Rights. I urge you to support this dream and aspiration.
Once again, I thank you for your steadfastness and urge you to keep the flag of hope flying..
January 4, 2022.