Nov 14, 2011

Ogoni: Activists Remembered

Ken Saro Wiwa and others among those remembered for greater local autonomy over petroleum resources.

Below is an article published by Voice of America

A socio-cultural group in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, or MOSOP, is commemorating the execution of leader and author Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others over a decade ago.  They were hanged at the Port Harcourt prison on Nov. 10, 1995 by the military government of General Sani Abacha.

MOSOP recognizes their deaths as part of the fight for justice.

Ledum Mitee, the group’s president, said  “Today, whatever claims of advancement that the Niger Delta has done cannot be taken away from these  sacrifices that these people made. We should continuously remember those sacrifices and recommit and rededicate ourselves to the struggle for justice.”

Mitee said Ogonis are not happy with the failure to implement the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on the environmental degradation of Ogoni land.  The UN agency submitted the report to the Nigerian government three months ago.

In the Niger Delta region, multi-billion dollar oil installations sit among villages of shacks perched on stilts over viscous, blackened water.

Among its findings were that public health is threatened in at least 10 Ogoni communities by high levels of hydrocarbons.  It found that the drinking source of one community contained up to 900 times the recommended levels of the carcinogen benzene.

“The report made very clear,” he said, “recommendations of the urgency of the situation that every period, somebody is dying or stands the risk of dying as a result of the polluted environment or as a result of the polluted water they are drinking.   We thought it is important that we should bring it to the attention that people are dying as a result of something [the public] knows nothing about.”

Mitee said Nigerians should realize the mismanagement of resources and corruption in the oil-rich Niger Delta could happen anywhere.  “Injustice to one,” he said, “is injustice to all.”