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17.08.2011 Feature Article

RE: Nigerian Government to force into Ogoni Oilfields not mindingrecent UNEP indictment

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The Ogoni Children Cultural and Fundamental Rights Council (OCAFAC-USA) has received a publication by Nigerian Thisday newspaper with the caption: Pollution or no pollution, oil production in Ogoni goes on," dated August 15, 2011. OCAFAC views statements and efforts to resume oil production credited to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation's (NNPC) Group General Manager Dr. Levi Ajuonuma and the Group Managing Director of Operations, Mr. Austin Oniwon respectively, as the most offensive.

Their statements are callous, insensitive threat aimed at playing games with, and trivializing the United Nations declared bio-hazardous and deadly situation Ogoni children and people faces, resulting from decades of the Federal Government, NNPC and $hell Oil's reckless operations. OCAFAC therefore demands, that the Federal Government and $hell immediately make concerted efforts and implement the UNEP report, openly and honesty and respectfully dialogue with Ogonis on ways of paying compensations and the implementation of the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR), which already exposed the degradation we were killed for.

If oil operation would take place in Ogoni, it must not be now that our environment is declared unfit to inhabit due to reckless oil exploitation by the Federal government and $hell Oil. When the environment has been cleaned or work proceeds into many years and we see the effectiveness of such efforts aimed at revamping our degraded land and feel it is okay. Or when we have Ogoni or Bori State, or any specialized arrangement that will guarantee Ogoni right to self-rule like other members of the country.

Ogonis must then discuss, agree and join in writing and signing agreements or treaty (with international third-party state or organization (s) joining the discussion and signing as witness) that will spell out operational rules. These rules must contain where we can allow oil operation and not allow, royalties and rents, employment and community development among other issues of Ogoni interests as obtained in other parts of the world.

Also, as Ogonis, we must join to select which company will operate in our land when our environment has been cleaned and in revamping process. That is, when our needs have been satisfactorily met and we are ready to commence oil business as mentioned inter alia. Such company must have credible record of adhering to strict safety standards even though the propensity that human or equipment error or failures exist. It must be such company which has respect for host communities, and with a mindset to help develop and not kill the people.

Verily, verily, it must not be $hell Oil or NNPC and their subsidiaries. Therefore, when stories such as the one reference above dance through media outlets, we must not panic. Should we worry somewhat when we come across them? Worry might not be the right word depending on how we look at the story and the manner in which such threat unfolds. Of course, such threat has almost become old school of late...call it one of those slogans?

We should, however, be alert, conscious and ready to act by any means necessary-nonviolently especially-which includes legal actions. We should reply or comment in or on any medium we read these stories, expressing our stand against such moves especially now that what the UNEP report considers the largest cleanup and most hazardous is yet to be acted upon.

No compensation has been paid for decades of damaged livelihoods, and no accompanying sustainable development implemented.

We could also write to the Nigerian presidency, Senate and House of Reps., could as well hold peaceful protest marches and exercise civil disobedience. It is also the responsibility of Ogoni lawmakers in all tiers of government to put Ogoni position as expressed above before their colleagues for action, especially the need to halt all oil operations and settle the first problem oil extraction is wrecking on Ogoni and its environment.

Government must stop forthwith from displaying insensitivity and callousness, claiming it will start oil production in Ogoni whether pollution or no pollution. Even an enemy to a state does not deserve this kind of shabby treatment from any government not to mention Ogonis who have contributed so much to the unity and economic well-being of the state-Nigeria.

Meanwhile, a state for Ogoni will allow us control our affairs and resources like other nationalities in the nation-state. If states can be created without a source of making budget to run their business, but dependent (parasitic) on Ogoni and Niger delta oil. OCAFAC wonders why Ogoni with such economic viability and human resources can not qualify for a state. For these nonviable states (more than 80% of the 36 states) to operate more Ogonis/Niger deltans have to die and their environment battered.

Why on earth should a government run by people who claim to be the same as the oppressed treat their fellow country-men with such callosity? This is shameful indeed, and more so on the watch of the first Niger deltan President of Nigeria-Goodluck Jonathan, who could not have neared the presidency without the heats from our struggle and blood.

I am not surprised because I have said he is not in charge; a cabal controls the affairs whereas Jonathan is a figure head, especially because he does not have what it takes to lead. So treating Ogoni this bad is in the best interest of the federation managed by heartless, greedy and incompetent brutes mostly of the so-called majority ethnic groups.

Well, Ogoni politicians, chiefs and members of the so-called Ogoni Contact Group whose primary objective, according to impeccable sources, is to ensure oil exploitation commence without government meeting the provisions of the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR), should please step back from this connivance with government and oil companies in the interest of peace.

Although Nigerian government officials are known to be vicious, irresponsible, corrupt and vision-less, they may not be making these comments if no one in Ogoni is talking to, and giving them assurances. What we also know is that government and $hell have been dividing and bribing to rule the people-making Ogoni almost leaderless.

Not withstanding the tactics, Ogonis will resist such unholy efforts of forcing into our oilfields, bribing some greedy self-styled rulers to this effect, unless Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR) demands are met: environment cleaned, compensation paid and massive development implemented with political autonomy for Ogoni.

Ben Ikari
Ben Ikari, Ā© 2011

The author has 35 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: BenIkari

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