More than 25 years after the execution of Ogoni rights leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his kinsmen, fresh crisis is brewing in Ogoni. The Ogoni took up the peaceful protest against the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major, Shell, and the military dictatorship in Nigeria.
In 1993, Shell abandoned Ogoniland. The triumph turned Saro-Wiwa into a nightmare for the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha. He arrested the Ogoni leader in 1994 for allegedly being responsible for the death of four Ogoni tribal leaders. Saro-Wiwa was hanged on November 10, 1995. He became a symbol for environmental protection and the human rights in the Niger Delta.
Shell has been at the base of criticism in the oil region for decades, and has been paying out millions to improve its image. In 2009 it paid $15.5 million to the family of Saro-Wiwa and the other eight executed activists. The oil company maintained that this was a humanitarian gesture, and not a recognition of culpability. In 2014, the people from the village of Bodo, where oil spills occured in 2004, received $84 million in compensation.
Consequences of Shell’s catastrophe can still be seen in Bodo. There is a thick carpets film on the rivers and the sand of the coast is dirty with oil.
However, a faction of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) led by Fegalo Nsuke has dismissed the dissolution of all factional executives of the mass Ogoni movement. It is also ignoring the plea by the Ogoni Youth Forum that all factions of MOSOP must obey the directive of Ogoni leaders and elders on the dissolution.
Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF) Worldwide has been warning the various factions of MOSOP struggling for the soul of the body to embrace peace for the interest of the people. OYF President General, Yamaaban Legborsi, made the warning in a statement.
According to him, MOSOP remains the soul of the Ogoni struggle for social, economic and environmental justice; and any attempt to hijack it for pecuniary interest of few jobbers at this point when elders and leaders of thought have called for truce in the leadership tussle of the organisation will amount to insulting the collectives sensibilities of Ogoni people and spitting on the graves of Saro-Wiwa and eight others, Chief Edward Kobani, Chief A. T. Badey, the Orages, and thousands of Ogoni unsung heroes who paid the supreme price for this struggle.
“The youths are fully mobilise to defend the position of elders as there has not been any MOSOP election that produced the purported leadership of Prince Bira, so far. Fegalo Nsuke and Lazarus Tamana must also take notice and queue behind the elders.
“Finally, anyone who is not willing to accept the olive branch extended by the elders at this point is acting on his own. The Ogoni Youth will be left with no 0ption but to declare them persona non grata in Ogoniland before the throw the entire Ogoni into another round of avoidable crisis”, he said.
Continuing, he said, “Ogoni people feel disappointed and disrespected by the rejoinder of Young Nkpah on behalf of the purported Prince Bira led MOSOP faction against the ‘Publication of Unity’ that emanated from Barr. Ledum Mitee, Dr. Owens Wiwa and other revereed MOSOP veterans activists a few days ago.”
A congress of the Ogoni people on MOSOP platform in Gokana insisted, “we do strongly declare our support for the leadership of our elected president, Fegalo Nsuke, who was validly elected through a transparent election process which culminated in his emergence on December 19, 2018.”
In a joint statement by Coordinator, Celestine Viula, and Secretary, Innocent B Eenen, the congress maintained that MOSOP is an organisation governed by a constitution and not the wishes and expressions of a committee of friends or individuals.
“The purported declaration/dissolution of the elected executive of MOSOP by a committee of friends as reported in the media is unacceptable, null and void and of no effect”, the congress said, observing that nearly all of the so-called elders were not members of MOSOP or were dormant members who in the heat of saving the organisation from collapse under Legborsi Pyagbara failed to speak out.
They can therefore not impose their interest on the Ogoni people at this time after MOSOP has been recovered from its state of comatose because, ‘’Fegalo Nsuke is the only validly elected president of MOSOP and should be so recognized by the general public. Congress held that every other claim to the presidency of MOSOP is false, fraudulent and and not recognized.
“Congress resolved that attempts by enemies of Ogoni to destabilise MOSOP by tolerating, and encouraging indiscipline and revolts in the organisation was wasteful as the Ogoni people and all chapters of MOSOP are fully committed to the leadership of MOSOP under Nsuke until fresh elections are conducted this year in line with the constitution of the movement.
“We unanimously resolve that the committee of friends who called themselves elders were self seeking and acted in disregard for the constitution, values and traditions of MOSOP when they pronounced the dissolution of MOSOP or its executive officers.”
They “condemned the actions of the committee of friends masquerading as MOSOP elders and resolved that the so-called elders hadn’t the legitimacy to make such pronouncements as they have no place in the decision making structure of the movement.”