…Dismisses Alleged Disunity Among Ogonis As Ploy By Oppressors
The Ogoni Democracy and Development Forum (ODDF) has again drawn the attention of Rivers people to what it described as political injustice done to the Ogoni people by the Nigerian and River State governments respectively.
ODDF is particularly worried over alleged political marginalization of the Ogonis in the state, being the only ethnic bloc according to it that is yet to produce a Governor, Deputy Governor, Speaker of the State Assembly, State Chief Judge among others in the over 50years of the creation of Rivers State.
Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, former president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), and convener of the Forum stated all this during a press briefing in Port Harcourt recently.
Going the memory lane, Saro Pyagbara gave an inventory of former governors, deputy governors, speakers, chief judges from other ethnic groups and senatorial districts in the state who have occupied those positions in the past with no trace of an Ogoniman as one of them at any point in time.
He described the development as unfair and unjust and should be addressed by relevant authorities by coming up with deliberate policies to right the agelong wrongs against his people.
The former MOSOP president was quick to remind the Rivers people to use the 2023 general elections to do the needful by ensuring that qualified aspirants of Ogoni extraction emerge as the governorship flagbearers of the various political parties particularly the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to him, the efforts and sacrifices that sensitized the entire world on the injustice and human rights abuse that characterized the military regime in Nigeria in the early 1990s and which brought the country to the front burner of global discourse and consequently ushered in democracy were majorly made and championed by the Ogonis (Ogoni crisis).
‘This monumental struggle to rescue the people and the Niger Delta generally from the vagaries of political marginalization, economic strangulation and environmental degradation have reduced the Ogoni nation to the lowest rungs of society and imperiled their continued existence as a people as a consequence,” the ODDF convener posited.
He regretted that while other ethnic nationalities like the yorubas have been compensated for the wrongs done to them by the annulment of June 12 election in 1993 by conceding to them the office of the president in 1999-2007 to assuage the frayed nerves of the people occasioned by the annulment, nothing has been done to address the second issue which confronted the country within the same period which is the Ogoni crisis.
On the taunted notion that political leadership has continued to elude the Ogonis on account of their inability to come together and speak with one voice as the reason for their laggard position in politics, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara dismissed that, as a ploy always used by the oppressors of the Ogoni people to keep them down.
He said if that were true in the past without conceding, the Ogonis are now united and want one of their own elected the state governor this time on whatever party platform.
On the occasional mention of upland/riverine divide in political office sharing in the state, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara also dismissed the argument as lacking a theoretical base and commonsense.
At no time in the history of the state, he said, has the upland/riverine formula been used to take any decision and wondered where the idea emanated from.
To justify his position, the former MOSOP helmsman gave a rundown of all the past leaders in the state which renders such argument null and void, stressing that the records only show that of all parts of the state whether on the waters, land or air, it is only the Ogonis that have been treated with disdain which contravenes all democratic principles and tenets anywhere across the globe.
The Ogoni-born activist therefore wants the political elite in Rivers State to draw from the principles of rotation, federal character and affirmative action as policies deliberately enacted to address perceived wrongs against other ethnic groups not only in Nigeria but globally to erect a pillar of political justice for the Ogoni people by prevailing on all political parties for the 2023 general election to choose their governorship flagbearers from Ogoni.