Jan 04, 2012

Ogoni: 19th Ogoni Day Anniversary Celebration

In a press release commemorating the event, Ogoni praise former president Olusegun Obasanjo, and call on President Jonathan Goodluck to take action

Below is a press release published by the African Herald Express:


As we commemorate the 19th Ogoni Day Anniversary today when over 300,000 Ogonis came out en masse and non-violently challenged the devastation of our environment and the denigration of our people by Shell’s reckless and racist oil extraction practices over the years in collaboration with successive Nigerian governments, the Council of Ogoni Professionals (COP International, USA) commend members of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and the entire Ogoni people for keeping the struggle alive despite monumental challenges. As we take stock today of our losses and our travails throughout these 19 years of our struggle, we salute the courage, determination and perseverance of our people and proudly declare that our struggle is just and our future is bright. We therefore urge all Ogonis to continue to fight non-violently for “there is an Ogoni Star in the sky”.

As we join our kit and kin to celebrate today, COP International, USA seizes this special opportunity to commend former President Olusegun Obasanjo for the love he demonstrated toward the Ogoni people during his tenure as Nigeria’s President by ordering the release of the remains of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni activists that were murdered in cold blood on November 10, 1995 by General Sani Abacha at the behest of Shell. Although the release of their remains fell short of our consistent demand that Ken Saro-Wiwa and others be exonerated, we are grateful because the release of their remains afforded their families and the Ogoni people the opportunity to bid them farewell in the dignified manner that befits their sacrifices.

COP International USA also commends President Olusegun Obasanjo for the various practical steps his administration took to try and resolve the Ogoni crisis. Although these steps were unsuccessful and might have had political and other undertones, it is a fact that without these efforts, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) assessment of Ogoni would not have been possible in the first instance. The recently released UNEP Report which details the unprecedented environmental devastation caused by Shell’s reckless oil exploration activities in Ogoniland validates our struggle and we remain forever grateful to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration for initiating the assessment.

As we take embark on a retrospective and prospective assessment of our 19 years of struggle today, the umbrella body of all Ogoni professionals in the United States of America sadly note that President Goodluck Jonathan has failed to acknowledge the immeasurable contributions of the Ogoni people to the development of the Nigerian nation-state and this is unfair. To buttress our claim, President Jonathan honored 50 prominent Nigerians who have contributed to national development as apart of activities marking Nigeria’s 50th Independence Anniversary Celebration in 2010. Amongst the honorees was his kinsman late Isaac Adaka Boro. However, Ken Saro-Wiwa who se non-violent and intellectual strategy gave international prominence to the sufferings of the Ogoni and other minorities of the Niger Delta was conspicuously omitted.  

Under the watchful eyes of President Goodluck Jonathan, Justice Ibrahim Auta whose miscarriage of justice led to the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni peace activists in 1995 was promoted to the exalted position of Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in Lagos, despite several protests against his nomination and confirmation.

One of the cardinal demands enshrined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR) is “adequate representation as of right in all Nigerian national institutions”. Under previous administrations, qualified Ogonis were given federal appointments including that of Economic Adviser to the President. However, under the present Goodluck Jonathan Administration, not a single Ogoni have been considered for any federal appointment despite the fact that Ogoni is blessed with seasoned and qualified intellectuals, administrators, managers and technocrats.

On December 31, 2011, President Jonathan took a decisive step to address the excesses of the Boko Haram Islamic Sect by declaring a State of Emergency in the hotbed of these militants in some states of the federation. Taking a cue from the decisive step taken by the President to check the excesses of the Boko Haram Islamic militants, COP International, USA at this umpteenth time appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan to also declare the environmental devastation in Ogoniland which is succinctly documented in the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Report a national emergency and take every necessary step to implement the recommendations of the report without any delay.

President in his remarks after the submission of the report by the UNEP team assured that the report will be implemented without any delay and consequently established a Ministerial Committee on August 17, 2011 to review the report and transmit their recommendations on how to implement the report to him within two (2) weeks.  However, it is sad to note that almost 5 months after the committee was set-up, the committee is yet to meet and produce a report for the President.

Given the grave danger that the non-implementation of the UNEP Report portends for the Ogoni people and our environment, the Council of Ogoni Professionals, USA calls on President Jonathan to implement the UNEP Report without any delay, at least as a respect for Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni martyrs whose ultimate sacrifices paved the way for him to become President of Nigeria today.