From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Recently, Ogoni people met in Zaakpon, Khana Local Government, Rivers State, for the unveiling of the Federal Government roadmap to the economic, peace and security development in Ogoniland, as it concerns the contentious Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11. The gathering, under the auspices of Ogoni General Assembly (OGA), drew attendance from Eleme, Gokana, Khana and Tai local government areas, making up Ogoni ethnic nationality in the state.
Venue of the event, Zaakpon Community Town Hall, was full to the brim, with both old, young and children. They all thronged to the place to hear what the leader of the Conscience of Ogoni People (COOP), Gani Topba, had to tell them about government’s concern, as it affects oil exploration and security in their land.
COOP was formerly known as Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates (KSWA). The group has been too passionate about the Ogoni struggle, keeping other pan-Ogoni groups strongly on their toes. COOP leader is seen as threat by other groups, but the people are always ready to hear his message of economic, social and environmental liberation.
Security at the venue was beefed up by the organisers to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order. At the end of the event, the Assembly came up with a communique. They empowered the COOP National Coordinator, Topba, to respond on behalf of them, to any issue bordering on security and agencies in Ogoni, whether made in or outside the ethnic nationality.
Topba declared: “We will not allow Shell to return to Ogoni. Nobody can stop us. The truth is always bitter, but our leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa, said, at all times, we must stand for the truth.
“There is no way any cabal will hold Ogoni hostage. The wealth in Ogoniland will take care of every Ogoni people. The crude oil and gas will be blessings to all of us.
“We agreed in the Ogoni General Assembly that President Muhammadu Buhari should direct the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to ask its subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC) to take over the Ogoni oilfields and have discussion with the entire Ogoni people. Any other company planning to take over Ogoni oilfields should steer clear.”
Also, the assembly urged Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation, to clear the late environmental activist, Saro-Wiwa, and eight other noble sons of Ogoni of any wrongdoings.
Topba stated the assembly rejected the templates released by the factional Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), for the resumption of oil production in Ogoniland. The COOP leader stressed that only the Ogoni Bill of Rights would be the acceptable document they would work with:
“We also agreed that one of the important things that Buhari should do is to direct the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation to write to the Supreme Court, based on the case we filed, to clear the name of Ken Saro-Wiwa, as a plea to take Ogoni oil.
“The purported templates by the leadership of the divided MOSOP and KAGOTE and the other self-acclaimed leaders of Ogoni for taking Ogoni oil are not acceptable. The only document we can work with is the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR). The government of Nigeria and the international community should not recognise the templates, which are null and void.
“We agreed that Buhari should direct the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC to come to Bori, the traditional headquarters of Ogoniland, to hold meeting with Ogoni people from all the kingdoms of Ogoni, on the way forward to take Ogoni oil.
“President Buhari, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources or GMD of NNPC should not receive any delegation from Ogoni on the issue of OML-11 re-entry on whatsoever capacity, outside the representatives of Ogoni General Assembly.”
The COOP National Coordinator appealed to Ogoni youths to shun cultism and other criminal activities. He enjoined the youths to make good use of their potential for effective and positive advancement of their struggle:
“The is no place to keep arms and ammunition in Ogoni. The errant youths should drop their arms. There is enough to take care of everybody, which Ken Saro-Wiwa fought and died for.”
Earlier, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Bori, the traditional headquarters of Ogoni, Bako Angbashim, advised criminals and cultists to shun crimes or face the music. He warned that he would not spare any criminal, who attempted to disrupt existing peace in the Khana LGA headquarters:
“The revolution in this Ogoniland started in Khana Local Government Area. Anybody that doesn’t want peace in Ogoniland, we will flush him out by force.
“Bori is the headquarters of Ogoni. As the DPO, I will never allow crime of any type to flourish in Bori, and the entire Khana LGA. Anybody that enters Khana LGA with his weapon, I will fight you.”
Similarly, the leadership of National Union of Ogoni Students urged the youths to embrace education. The union pledged its support for a non-violent struggle.