Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa
By Fegalo Nsuke
i sat on my reading table to put down this piece, i visualized how the
Nigerian state has treated the Ogoni with so much disdain and how Shell,
the oil giant that thrives on lies, dishonesty and irresponsibility
continues to make efforts to return to Ogoniland drilling sites and
resume oil operations not minding the atrocities committed against the
people and their vocal commitment not to have the evil company return to
Ogoni for drilling operations.
quite remember vividly, the dark shadows cast on Port Harcourt on
November 10, 1995 when at about 12noon, the BBC reported that Saro-Wiwa
and eight other Ogonis have been killed by the Abacha led federal
government. It was great shock for me as i felt helpless, unable to
confront the government and realizing that Saro-Wiwa was no more.
flowed uncontrollably not just for Saro-Wiwa but for the other eight
including Dr Kiobel, John Kpuinen and the other 6 whom i knew committed
no crime other than supporting Saro-Wiwa's campaign to save the Ogoni
from a strangulating political, economic and environmental clutch of two
powerful institutions - the Nigerian Government and the Shell Petroleum
Development Company, an affiliate of Shell.
stain from Saro-Wiwa's blood still continues to haunt Nigeria where no
real efforts are made to correct the past mistakes of social injustice.
The Ogoni, whose contributions as a unique people within the Nigerian
state is persistently downplayed, and her identity is not recognized by
the government, makes more contributions to the economy than some 20
states put together.
Ogoni are two oil refineries, two sea ports, two electricity generating
plants, a fertilizer and a petro-chemical complex, an oil and gas free
zone accommodating over 500 companies. Yet the Ogoni do not have a state
of their own within the so-called Nigerian federation. The revenues
generated from the Ogoni territories are shared by the federal
government to support the multiple states created for the dominant three
ethnic groupings including the Ibos, Huasa-Fulanis and Yorubas.
the Ogonis have chosen not to adopt the tactics that forces the
Nigerian government to submission - violence. The fear of a possible
extermination should a violent approach be followed have possibly kept
the Ogoni on the path of a non-violent approach.
the period preceding Saro-Wiwa's hanging and the immediate period
after, one Major Paul Okuntimo had been deployed to Ogoni as head of a
special military task force which unleashed terror on the people. The
only safe place became the bush. The Ogoni knows that a violent approach
will be appreciated by the government who will simply kill the entire
population under the guise of ending an uprising.
choice not to reward non-violence by ensuring justice for small and
oppressed groups like the Ogoni is costing her enormously in money and
prestige. The Nigerian government government under President Goodluck
Jonathan initiated payment for militants in the Niger Delta region who
took arms against the state urging them to allow the continual flow of
oil from the region. The government has also on several occasions made
offers to the Boko Haram group to stop violence in the North-East.
Government reward for violence in Nigeria and delays in addressing the
Ogoni problem is undoubtedly a time-bomb as frustrations rise daily
among an already dehumanized and poor population.
years after Saro-Wiwa, the Ogonis are constantly reminded by November
10 of a system that has been very brutish and unjust, a system that has
killed an entire generation of leaders and still seek to suck the people
of every resources to which they have been naturally endowed.
than address the issues and improve the people's living conditions,
government rather seeks to worsen the people's frustrations. In 2012,
the Rivers State Government embarked on a massive land grab to takeover
about 2000 hectares of land around Sogho and Ueken and Khana and Tai
local government areas. Resistance against this move led to the killing
of about 40 persons by the Nigerian security forces.
still lobbies to return to Ogoniland while the Ogoni battles to
overcome Nigeria's suppression and inhuman treatment. Shell has not only
killed more Ogoni people but have sustained her dirty posture as a
lying and evil company totally irresponsible and uncommitted to the good
of the people from whose land the company has carted away billions of
dollars from crude oil sales profits.
call Shell a liar, a racist and a terrible evil. The company has got a
terrible record which time and space will not allow me to dwell much on.
But suffice it to say that testifying before the Human Rights
Commission headed by late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, Brian Anderson, then
managing director of Shell had told the commission that spillages in
Ogoni were mere incidences that were not significant to cause any damage
to the environment. Some 11 years later, a U.N report has exposed the
company's lies by revealing that Shell's pollution in Ogoniland will
take 30years to clean up. Shell still lies till date about the Ogoni
racism and wickedness is clearly exemplified in her irresponsible
business practices. As at 1990, over 30billion dollars worth of oil have
been taken away from Ogoniland and Shell cared not to put back
anything. After aiding the hanging of Saro-Wiwa and over 4,000 Ogonis
killed in wasting operations under the supervision of Major Okuntimo's
special military task force, Shell still has guts to contemplate a
return to Ogoniland to drill oil. The company has lost every sense of
responsibility and probably no longer guided by any human conscience. It
will be shocking to learn that that despite Ogoni contributions in oil
revenue, some communities, like Teenama, still do not have a primary
school till date. All you can find in Teenama, as in all other Ogoni
villages, are polluted waters and poverty.
10 is a call to stand up for justice. That though we have lost so much,
the blood spilt must not be allowed to go in vain. November 10 is a
call to set our differences aside and tell the Nigerian government that
it is time she washes herself of the stain of Saro-Wiwa's blood by
acknowledging the injustice of the hangings and taking additional steps
to address the Ogoni problem and demands as contained in "The Ogoni Bill
Fegalo Nsuke, member of The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni
People (MOSOP) wrote from Port Harcourt