Valuable Lessons

The built up to Ogoni Day 2022 was quite perplexing. No one knew how it would end, not even the coalition of stakeholders who nurtured the idea of a unified MOSOP event devoid of those who tore and held pieces of the once enviable nationalistic organisation.

Several meetings and congress were held as a build up to what I can call unholy alliance expected to prepare grounds for a re-engineered MOSOP structure. But these great developments or moves were challenged by some known and unknown physical and spiritual forces. Even the core proponents of a unified MOSOP (Ledum Mitee representing the old face of MOSOP, Owens Wiwa representing the Kenule Wiwa dynasty, Monday Abue representing GboKabari) could hardly put together an agreeable formula to truncate or prune the shame of an organisation turn apart by three musketeers (presidents) who seem to be acting as *gold diggers*. The factional presidents are: Laz Tamana from Bodo, Prince Biira from Kaani and Fegalo Nsukke from Yeghe.

In fact, the intrigues enveloping the desire to put MOSOP on a more honourable page can fittingly produce a best selling Nollywood movie.

A typical script that played on can fittingly be be described in this way. When the main stakeholders determined to strengthen MOSOP disagree on election issues, the musketeers celebrate.

But when there is a bankable/agreeable formula or timetable to put things right, the musketeers go to court differently to claim rights to the presidency of mosop, to the exclusion others.

And finally, when there was a go ahead to have the Ogoni Day devoid of factional leaderships, they came together to kick against the populist move.

So, to right thinking observers, there must be something behind these so called MOSOP presidents in leading factions or pieces of MOSOP. Their comforts in our disarray is mind boggling. 

As the Ogoni Day planning became seemingly plausible, the governor of the state expressed interest in attending after being approached by the erstwhile leadership of the organisation led by Ledum Mitee.

Rather than dousing intrigues, the noble plan to have the governor as a guest heated up the process and emboldened the musketeers to do all within their powers to scuttle the program.

Unmasking the musketeers, fingers of some political gladiators were noticed.

As the governor firmed up his desire to attend, the political gladiators who saw the Ogoni Day in the light of 2023 Brick House tacitly encouraged a fragmented Ogoni (MOSOP) which equally heightened the Ogoni political infighting which almost marred the attendance from several quarters.

Somehow, the governor saw between the lines and resolved to come to Bori on January 4th to deliver what I can call the Ogoni salvation message.

As mentioned earlier, as soon as the governor’s attendance became very clear inspite of spirited behind the scene oppositions, the entire Ogoni political as well as traditional institutions queued behind the Ogoni Day event as facilitated by the stakeholders excluding Owens Wiwa.

There and then things began to work more harmoniously. The 4 local government institutions in the the ogoni equation  surprisingly tunned in by working in tandem with MOSOP. Particularly commendable were the roles played by Khana and Gokana chairmen who mobilised locals to attend.

The member representing Khana/Gokana in the national Assembly Hon. Dum Deekor took special interest in mobilising support not seen for decades.

So the Ogoni Day was held as planned with pomp and pageantry.  But behind or within the ceremonial splendour, a message of hope or salvation resonated rather innocuously from the fanciful platform from an Ikwere son to the Ogoni nationality.

A message dramatically displayed but not heard by the majority of those who attended due to very poor audio output from the elegant PA system. Governor Wike was very emphatic and shouted to the hearing of the bevvy of press crew and those surrounding the rostrum that the ogoni future is being shortchanged or destroyed by the present cabal of Ogoni leaders with pecuniary – selfish – interests.

He gave two vivid examples: OML 11 – the Ogoni oil block that he has been fighting with the federal government to allow Ogonis a reasonable degree of equity participation. Rather than joining efforts, some so called Ogoni leaders gathered themselves in Abuja to trade off the lease for  peanuts. Secondly, he bemoaned the divisive, greedily motivated intrigues enveloping the leaders bracing towards securing gubernatorial tickets.

Garbing himself or speaking as a priest momentarily, he called all the available Ogoni leaders, moved them to the stage, encouraged them to raise their locked hands together and then strongly admonished the need to work together in harmony to actualize the Ogoni dream.

With this dramatic happening, the governor ended his speech and the high profile Ogoni Day ended with humbled faces of political actors walking down the stage.

Earlier, Ledum Mitee in a moving speech emphasised the need for Ogoni political actors to view MOSOP within the right prism –  as collaborators in the fight against environmental, economic and political marginalisation. Allow MOSOP to exist to agitate for our rights while partisan politics should work towards the actualisation of the benefits derivable from such agitations, he enthused.

From my angle, I see the race to get into the brick house in 2023 by the ogoni people speedily heading into a terrible mess, railroaded by some actors using methods akin to the popular saying of dog eating dog.

Eight years ago, we were hauled into a similar boat by our political actors. I was privy to a meeting in government House when Magnus Abe led political leaders spoke openly  against the populist Ogoni position as captured by Prof Baridam on some prime ogoni issues including the move  requesting governor Amaechi to rethink the acquisition of Ogoni land for banana plantation.

The then governor seeing the bitter division expressed in the meeting amongst the Ogoni leaders spoke tersely in a way that I have not forgotten over the years. He said *OGONI people, can you actualize your governorship ambition desire on this fractional note?*. Adding that Ikwerre people worked harmoniously to get the nod.

Now, 8 years after, Wike seems to be harping on the need for inclusiveness or setting aside personal desires for the much touted ambition for an Ogoni governor to emerge come 2023.

The Ogoni Day has come and gone. Are there valuable lessons for the Ogoni people? or should we continue to pursue our personal agenda as we seemingly did 8 years ago? There is only but a short time to pause and ponder. Let no personal interest rise so high that cannot be sacrificed for our common heritage. This is my view.

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