The Ogoni ethnic nationality took Nigerians and indeed the world by surprise when in 1993 Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People-MOSOP was launched. Formation of this Socio-Cultural organization and launching of her Bill of Rights with appeal to the International Community for intervention no doubt heightened insecurity in the place.
Federal Government of Nigeria then headed by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babaugida and Shell Petroleum Development Company being jittery over outcome of the non-violent struggle drafted military troops to the area to render the struggle impotent.
Agitation and protests of the people against environmental degradation, economic strangulation and political marginalization were infiltrated and most leaders killed. Since then epileptic leadership has been the fate of the people as bold and courageous ones met their untimely death.
Vibrant Socio-Cultural organizations of the people have been rendered inactive by external forces who introduced the antics of divide and rule through compromising some leaders. Bloodletting and other unwholesome acts in recent times have ridiculed leadership of the area thereby creating room for the spate of insecurity now experienced in Ogoniland.
It was in a bid to bridge the gap and bring sanity to bear on the security situation in the area that the Association of Retired Senior Military and Para-Military Officers of Ogoni- ARMPOO was formed in April, 2018. As child of necessity raised to campaign against vices of cultism, kidnapping, armed robbery and politically motivated violence that have ravaged Ogoniland and deprived it of peace and security, the body has demonstrated proactiveness in dealing with issues.
The Mission Statement of ARMPOO remains “to have an Ogoniland that is peaceful, secure and attractive to investors and development partners” and this has continued to be her focus. The association which started with Radio jingles to conscientize perpetrators of crimes in the area, has also paid courtesy visits on critical stake holders.
On Friday, May 4, 2018 ARMPOO visited Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike at Government House Port Harcourt which was followed by Live Spotlight Interview on Radio Rivers Port Harcourt on Sunday May,13,2018, Besides, the body also paid advocacy visits on Chairmen of the four Ogoni Local Government Areas.
The General Officer Commanding 6th Division of the Nigeria Army Port Harcourt played host to the body on June 5, 2018 while the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command had them on June 21,2018. Similar visits had been made on the Director of DSS and the State Commandant, Nigerian Civil Defense Corps.
Interestingly too, the body collaborates with members of the Nigeria Legion, Ogoni chapter. This has to a large extent improved security as distress calls put to ARMPOO receives swift response.
Infact, to make good her intentions, ARMPOO on 27, July,2018 opened her office at Bori, the traditional headquarters of Ogoni people for easy accessibility. Of great emphasy was the Security Seminar organized by the body on Thursday 18 October, 2018 which primary objective was to enable all critical stakeholders including security agencies to diagnose causes of insecurity in Ogoniland and collectively agree on the strategies that will address the problem.
The Security Seminar which targeted all institutions, organizations, the clergy as well as politicians of Ogoni extraction had as theme “ The Fate of Development And Greatness Of a Community In An Insure Environment; Ogoniland in Perceptive” Two papers were presented by two eminent scholars.
Prof. Nekabari Johnson Nna of the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, University of Port Harcourt lectured on the paper “CONTEMPORARY SECURITY CHALLENGES AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN OGONI LAND” while Prof. OBC Nwolise of the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan and Visiting Professor, Nigerian Army Resources Centre, Abuja took up the paper “THE FATE OF DEVELOPMENT AND GREATNESS IN AN INSECURE COMMUNITY; A STRATEGIC OVERVIEW”.
Prof. OBC Nwolise indeed brought to bear more practical approach in solving insecurity problems in the area. His paper equally challenged sensibility of leaders particularly traditional rulers who have abandoned their duties in preference for partisan politics. According to him, one thing that brought peace to bear at Aguleri community in Anambra State was traditional approach by traditional rulers which work in all places and climes.
The Seminar held at the International Conference Center Bori, was first of its kind in Ogoni land as it involved all target audience. Thirteen points Communiqué reached at the end of the event was published on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, at pages 15 and 20 of The Punch and Tide Newspaper respectively.
As the 2019 General election draws nearer ARMPOO led by Rear Admiral John Nicholas Bakpo (Rtd) is calling on all Ogoni youths to remain non-violent before, during and after the elections. ARMPOO urges politicians both within and outside Ogoni not to use youths of the area as canon folders during the election so as not to escalate crisis in Ogoni.
Ministers of God and parents are enjoined to advise their faithful and children on the need for peace and security of Ogoni land even as the group assures of better days ahead if conducive atmosphere is created for industrialisation in the place.
Furthermore, ARMPOO has continued to remain non partisan and committed to partnering with relevant bodies to promote peace and security in the land. As like minds, Ogoni people expect so much from them in terms of values and courageous leadership that will forge direction and cohesion of the people.
What is happening in Ogoni, to say the least is a sad tale which reminds one of David's lamentation in Second Samuel Chapter 1 Vs 17 – 20 which reads “And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son. Behold, it is written in the book of Jasher. He said, thy glory oh Israel is slain upon the high places, how are the mighty falling! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets ofAskelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exalts”.
What an irony of fate? That a people once known for peace and tranquillity would allow infiltration, greed and myopic tendencies to behold their sense of reasoning and almost render them helpless even amidst those who God has strategically positioned for leadership?
This is not a time to cast aspersion nor apportion blames, but a time for sober reflection when all citizens should own up responsibility and do the needful. This is the only wayfor arresting the drift and reassuring sense of brotherhood.
The time to act is now!
Duck Saaronee Nwiku is a Journalist based in Port Harcourt.