Ogoni: Boycott of 2015 Elections Unless Political Equality is Assured
Legborsi Pyagbara, President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) has stated that the Ogoni people will boycott the 2015 Nigerian general elections unless political equality and fair representation is assured for the Ogoni people. He has called on Nigerian political parties to include Ogoni candidates for the general elections to ensure that the Ogoni have an adequate and direct representation in all Nigerian national institutions and are permitted their rightful say in matters that directly affect them, especially with regards to Shell Oil Company’s presence and exploitation of Ogoni lands.
Below is an article published by The Guardian:
The people of Ogoni in Rivers State have threatened to boycott the 2015 elections if political parties fail to choose Ogoni candidates as their flagbearers.
President of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Legborsi Pyagbara, who stated this at the 19th anniversary memorial lecture of Ogoni heroes held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said the Ogoni are no longer prepared to play second fiddle in the political life of Rivers State after 47 years.
The MOSOP President said: “For more than a year, we have been involved in a campaign for political equality and representation in Rivers State. This campaign is anchored on the third demand in the Ogoni bill of rights, which stressed that Ogoni people need adequate and direct representation as a right of all Nigerian national institutions.
“Any failure by the political parties in the state to field Ogoni candidates as their political flag-bearers automatically means that the Ogoni people will not participate in the 2015 general elections.”
The MOSOP President while commending the Federal Government for its renewed interest in the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report, he urged the government to remove every obstacle that may impede full implementation of the report and match its words with actions, stressing that the people are tired of shows.
Responding to questions on why the Federal Government and Shell want to talk about the implementation of the UNEP report now after several years, Pyagbara said: “I think it is safe to say that there are those in government and Shell who have finally looked into the future and admitted that we are now on the edge of a precipice. In the past years, we have come closer to disastrous chain of events than any would care to admit, particularly the massive protest on December 10, 2013 occasioning the shut down of activities in some parts of Port Harcourt.”
The MOSOP President further condemned the present attempt to divest Ogoni oil blocks without clear discussions with the Ogoni people.
He warned all prospective investors to steer clear of Ogoni until matters around the divestment are properly discussed with the Ogoni, adding that the people are not prepared to follow the fate of the Amazon communities in Ecuador.
“Whilst Shell remains persona-non-grata in Ogoni, we have stated repeatedly that Ogoni oil assets cannot be partitioned and put on sale like the partitioning of Africa without the free, prior and informed consent of the Ogoni people as guaranteed under the international human rights law, particularly the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
“We warn all the traditional rulers, chiefs and Ogoni families not to compromise our stand. We have always seen ourselves as a blood and one family. Having seen ourselves as one family, we should not betray our stand.”
He, however, warned members of the communities not to allow themselves to be deceived by any investor, urging them to remain united and protect the interest of the Ogoni people.