23rd August, 2020
By Fegalo Nsuke
There are very many reasons to celebrate our country just as there are also very many awful things we wish our country would have addressed or never have done. I would have been happy to see an end to the Boko Haram menace, an end to the killings ascribed to Fulani Herders, the exoneration of innocent Ogonis murdered by the state on November 10, 1995 including Ken Saro-Wiwa, John Kpuinen and others, an end to the unfair treatment of the Niger Delta, a just and fair treatment of every section of our country and a common bond among Nigerians to work for the good of this country.
But Nigeria has been largely driven by sectional interests, those in government have not been excluded from these parochial enclave to pursue the regional agenda which has fractured the core of our unity and resurrected songs of Biafra and so on. I have come to the realization that Nigerians love their country but have been frustrated by the disjointed and unpatriotic dominance of wrong people who have come to occupy public and government space, the stains and lack of integrity in the character of those who have enjoyed the privileges of managing our national resources on behalf of all of us.
Nigerians long to see a country driven towards actualising the dream of restoring our collective happiness, a complete departure from the ethnic driven agenda with a strong and determined move towards nation building. In my view, this can be achieved through a more youthful government and not those of great grand fathers who seem to still have in their heads, how a breakup was averted in 1970.
We need to build our nation by admitting our wrongs and reconciling with those upon which we have inflicted great wrongs and pains. We need to harness the resources of our country in a just manner recognising the contributions of everyone and distributing available resources in the most equitable manner.
Our country is not made up of three ethnic groups, the Hausa-Fulani, Ibo and Yoruba alone and so we cannot just run a country that promotes only these three. The ethnic minorities whose resources power the country also needs to be taken along and treated as part of the country especially as the greatness of the country can only be sustained by the resources coming from the minorities like the Ogoni.
The memories of the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa, John Kpuinen, Baribor Bera, Nordu Eawo, Paul Levura, Saturday Doobee, Felix Nuate, Daniel Gbooo and Nubari Kiobel murdered by the Nigerian government in repression against the Ogonis’ demand for civl rights still invokes today, much feeling of hatred and discrimination against the Ogoni people. They were murdered by the Nigerian state under General Sani Abaacha after a sham trial that even the extremely naive could see was faulty and a sham.
Saro-Wiwa had led a protest against the devastation of Ogoni by Shell Petroleum Company, the reckless exploitation of Ogoni resources with the benefits going to the other ethnic nationalities of Nigeria while the Ogoni from where the resources were extracted got nothing. Saro-Wiwa had also protested the political exclusion of the Ogoni people especially the denial of the political rights to self determination.
In response, the government framed him and eight of his compatriots and got them killed. It was gruesome and for me as an Ogoni, it was an alienation. The UN launched an investigation into the murders, so also did the Africam Union and ECOWAS. All of these groups including the European Union condemned the murders as extrajudicial. The UN after its fact finding did expressly state that the nine men were innocent. Former British Prime Minister described the trial as unfair, a bad verdict which was followed by a judicial murder.
25 years later, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s murder has left an indelible mark. It remains the major reason an intervention into the Ogoni issue has never worked. For the Ogoni, there can be no good life coming forth until Ken Saro-Wiwa’s name and those of the other eight are cleared. Ken Saro-Wiwa was not just an ordinary Ogoni. He committed himself, his very life for the good of the people and there can be no celebration of Ogoni liberation until Ken Saro-Wiwa’s innocence becomes legal.
The Ogoni people demand the exoneration of Ken Saro-Wiwa and all others murdered with him on November 10,, 1995. It is the gateway to resolving the Ogoni problem and this year, as we mark the 25th anniversary of the murders, the Ogoni people are still waiting for justice.
At this time however, we call on the Nigerian government to clear the names of the nine. It is an opportunity to move us all towards a reconciliation and like our president, Muhammadu Buhari would say,, “let us tae it”
*Fegalo Nsuke is President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). He wrote from Port Harcourt, Nigeria