Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
(1) I stand before you all today on behalf of the Central Committee and as President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) to address you on this momentous day of the memorial and remembrance of some of the leading lights and martyrs of our struggle.
(2) 28 years has gone by, since the Nigerian Government of the time brutally executed our leader the erudite Ken Saro wiwa along with eight others, John Kpuinen, Dr. Nubari Kiobel, Paul Levura, Baribor Bera, Nordu Eawo, Saturday Doobee, Daniel Gbokoo and Felix Nuate. Their deaths have epitomized the murder of some 4,000 other Ogonis who became the casualties of a Shell-backed state repression of the 1990s under the watch of General Sani Abacha. May I request that we observe a minute silence to honour the soul and spirit of the departed heroes of the ogoni struggle who paid the supreme price in their quest to liberate our land.
(3) November 10, as it is popularly tagged, has become an unforgettable date now used to remember and honour all those who lost their lives in the cause of the Ogoni struggle for basic rights and survival. Their memorial has become an annual event, but unfortunately, it has also been used for fundraising just as the travails of the martyrs have been exploited by many.
(4) Speaking against the executions has become a huge industry and has popularized many non-governmental organizations and given international awards to many. The environmental justice movement itself for which the Ogoni people have become globally known is equally a huge industry.
(5) My fellow Ogonis, in all of these opportunities that has been offered by the sacrifices of over 4,000 Ogoni lives, whom we remember today, the fact remains that very little has been put into finding a permanent solution for the problem and to ensure that the Ogoni people are restored unto a life of dignity, purpose, prosperity and destiny.
(6) It is this regard, that I address you today, twenty-eight years after November 10, 1995, to solicit your support for the current efforts of MOSOP to resolve the Ogoni problem through a robust and well-conceived development plan which we have already delivered to the federal government of Nigeria during the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari and continue to push for its operationalization under the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR.
(7) My Fellow Ogonis, it is an unfortunate paradox that since 1958 when crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantities in Ogoni, and 1993 when the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited was compelled to shut down Operations in the area due to mounting civil protests, an estimated $30 Billion worth of oil was thought to have been extracted from Ogoni lands.
(8) But the unbelievable reality is that given the current technology for crude oil extraction, the soil upon which the Ogoni people walk has a proven capacity to produce 500,000 barrels of oil daily, estimated at U.S. $40 million per day. It then follows that in the past 30 years of Shell’s exit from Ogoni, at least 6,475,000,000 barrels of oil conservatively estimated at $328,500,000,000 (Three Hundred and Twenty-Eight Billion, Five Hundred Million Dollars) have been lost to wrong approaches deployed to address the Ogoni problem. This figure is derived at a conservative estimated base price of $50 (fifty dollars) per barrel during the period.
(9) My Fellow Ogonis, that is the soil upon which an estimated One Million Ogoni people walk daily in misery, without jobs, security, physical infrastructure such as electricity, schools, hospitals, roads and more. The Ogoni story is the pathetic narrative of a national shame, and we all have a responsibility to rewrite this story for the better and reset the future and destiny of Ogonis living and yet unborn.
(10) It is in this spirit that in 2019, MOSOP commenced extensive consultations with the people in all 216 known communities in Ogoni. The outcome of the consultations led to a resolution of the Central Committee of MOSOP on September 27, 2020, which proposed the putting into operation of the Ogoni Development Authority, (ODA), as an acceptable pathway and framework to permanently resolve the three-decade oil conflicts in Ogoni.
(11) As the grassroots movement, and the voice and face which rallied the Ogoni people against the dehumanizing records of Shell, MOSOP believes that the set of actions and objectives prescribed by MOSOP in its development proposals matches the intentions of the founding fathers of the Ogoni struggle and if not actualized, would erode the sacrifices of the over 4,000 martyrs we remember today.
(12) The leadership of MOSOP believes that leadership is about solving problems and not escalating them, we are strongly committed to this process towards resolving this lingering issue and do urge the continual support of the Ogoni people.
(13) While we understand that it is not an easy task, we are assured and we have the confidence that the over 4,000 Ogonis whose lives have been laid down for this cause are with us, God is with us, and victory is sure.
(14) To this end, we therefore, implore the support and buy in of the new administration under the leadership of the Initiative-taking Mr. President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR, as we put forward the following demands outlined as follows namely:
That the input and voice of the Ogoni people is a prerequisite to paving the way for an acceptable solution which MOSOP will drive within the stakeholder’s engagement meetings.
That an order be made for a judicial review of the unjust sentencing and execution of nine Ogoni rights campaigners namely Ken Saro-Wiwa, John Kpuinen, Dr Nubari Kiobel, Nordu Eawo, Baribor Bera, Saturday Doobee, Felix Nuate, Paul Levura and Daniel Gbokoo.
That an order be made to stop further harassment, killings, or intimation of the Ogoni people by any entity or group while the suggested cause of action is diligently and genuinely pursued.
That the resolution of the Ogoni problem be given top priority by Mr. President.
Finally, my brothers and Sisters, let me assure you of our irrevocable commitment to our cause and to state unequivocally that we have recorded significant and unprecedented success to bring the Ogoni people into accepting our proposed development programme.
While we see this as a beautiful opportunity and a win-win situation for all stakeholders, I will urge the Government to take advantage of these gains to quickly resolve the crises.
I thank the Ogoni people whose resilient demands for development and basic rights have led us to this incredibly beautiful moment and will hope that we all take advantage of it. Fellow Ogonis, I want to leave you with this adage and scripture that says there is a time and a season for every activity under heaven. After 28 years in the wilderness experience, the time has come for the sustainable development and prosperity for Ogoni where we have our arable land restored for our farmers to farm, our rivers cleaned for our fishermen to fish, good roads constructed, world class hospitals established, state of the art schools including an Ogoni University, numerous employment opportunities created for our people to be empowered and Power generation to industrialize Ogoni and making it a leading Industrial hub within Nigeria. It’s in our hands to make all this happen.
We can do it, we can build the Ogoni of our dreams and bring an end to the sufferings and Pain of our people. That responsibility rests squarely on our shoulders and on our generation. Let us not waste it but seize the moment.
Thank you for the opportunity.
God bless you all, God bless the Ogoni people, its lands and spirits and God bless our country, Nigeria.
November 10, 2023.