In 1993 MOSOP mobilised the Ogoni people in a large scale protest to attract international attention to their plight of being denied a fair share of oil revenue and the consequent pollution and spoilage of their environment due to oil exploration.
It brings to mind the struggle of the Niger Delta as region against the same forces of political mechanism that have held both entities enslaved.
Their demands contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights developed by MOSOP has remain a relevant encyclopedia of their collective struggle. It has not changed over the years irrespective of the threat, murder and repression they have been subjected to. They have remained consistent, unbending, and determined to press on until they get what they rightly deserve.
Till date, the Ogoni Bill of Rights, consistently provides direction to self-actualization of the dream of the Ogoni people in their struggle for a fair share of the proceeds of the nation’s wealth.
Their stand and resoluteness may be seen by some as rebellious and antipatriotic and ill-conceived to the pursuit of unity of the Nigerian state of which the beneficiary remains the political and feudal elite of the beneficial economy of the Northern and Western bloc of Nigeria. We in Eve Afrique see it as a just demand by a people who believe that all men are born equal and deserve to live and enjoy their God given privileges.
Although their struggle for political autonomy has pitched them against Corporation and the State, they have remain unyielding, unbroken, speaking with one voice; unwilling to bow and allow for continuous oil extraction in their territory to the detriment of their environment and their collective destiny.
It is amazing that the Ogonis, although a sub culture; an ethnic group in a system greater than them has defied successfully all forces pitched against them, but the Niger delta as a region has not equal them in resoluteness and focus.
At this point we are made to ask, why have they made so much impact and success in their struggle while the Niger Delta as a region continue to remain a recluse of self-pity and disunity?
The Niger Delta political class and cultural icon should look inward and take a cue from the Ogoni struggle. It is a struggle premised on truth, social justice and equity. It is a struggle built on true unity which has eluded the South-South as a region and remains a mirage to the Nigerian state as well.
Going forward, the Ogoni struggle should not be seen anymore by the region as the struggle of a sub culture but rather as the struggle of the whole Niger Delta. Their unity and resoluteness should be a catalyst to the Niger Delta political elite and cultural icons. It should be a rallying point of combined forces against a repressive system that will not allow the region to enjoy the blessings of God poured so lavishly on her.
Their example should be a shining light of unity among the Ijaws, the Efiks, the ibibios and the Urhobos and Itsekiris and all ethnic groups within the region to rally around and build a 21st century tower of Babel that no man but only God can stop.
By: Godson Etokakpan.