David Amusa,Port Harcourt
Supporters of former Governor and Transportation Minister, Chief Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe had another opportunity to clash at the Ken Saro-wiwa memorial lecture organized by the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP),at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
It all began when the chairman of the occasion, Chief Precious Ngbor advised the MOSOP to stay away from politics.
This did not go down well with Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, who suggested that there was no way MOSOP will completely avoid politics, pointing out that the pursuance of MOSOP’s interest depends on politics.
Abe who is the senator representing Rivers South East district and governorship candidate of the Peter Odike faction of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers state, urged MOSOP not to shy away from politics particularly if it is where its interest hinges on.
“There is no organization in the world that can watch out for the interest of its people without watching out for the interest of the politics.
“Whether it is Arewa Forum, whether it is the children of Oduduwa, whether it is Afenifere, everybody keeps one eye on the politics because at the end of the day all the things we gathered here to ask for we are asking from the government and it is politics that forms the government”.
“So if you ignore the politics you will continue to ask and who will answer you when you don’t know where the politics is going?”
Afterwards Senator Abe left for other engagements.
Then reacting to his speech, Chief Amaechi’s APC’s faction’s Senatorial candidate of Rivers South East and current Ambassador to the Netherlands, Orji Ngofa, disagreed with Senator Abe’s position, stressing that MOSOP should not be involved in politics although they can pursue collective political interest.
“If we want to play politics we must play collective politics. Our politics must not be personalized,” he said.
In his own contribution, Chief Victor Giadom, the Amaechi’s faction’s deputy gubernatorial candidate also insisted that MOSOP should not be involved in politics.
He accused Senator Abe of trying to enmesh MOSOP in partisan politics.
“I will like to share this opinion with all of us. When the Chairman of this occasion made his opening remarks, he did mention that MOSOP and our very important traditional institutions should not to be involved in politics. In his wisdom, what he intends to convey to us is that politicians should allow MOSOP space to operate as MOSOP. The reason why that is apt is that if MOSOP is not allowed to have its independence, the required need of MOSOP might not be met and the Ogoni people will suffer”.
“I am also using this opportunity to tell all of us who are politicians, because I am one of them, not to cry to the people when you have the opportunity to assist the people. All of us including my humble self have been given one opportunity or the other, what did you use your opportunity for? Did you remember Ogoni people when you had the opportunity or will you now expect Ogoni to remember you today? That question is left for Ogoni people to answer.
“For me, I will congratulate the Ogoni people and I will stand by MOSOP but let us not infest MOSOP. Let MOSOP be independent, let KAGOTE be independent so that the doors we cannot knock on, they will have the ability to knock on those doors.
“I want to say it here today because very soon there will be campaign in our state and in Ogoni, please let’s leave MOSOP out of politics. But MOSOP should be interested in the growth of Ogoniland.
“Politicians should leave MOSOP out of politics so that the sanctity of MOSOP and it’s credibility will continue to grow from strength to strength.
MOSOP cannot be the place, or an avenue where people who are not protected by a particular political group will run to.
“MOSOP should serve as a neutral entity that protects and guides Ogoni people, be you in party A, or party B, or party C or party D. I hear they are about 91 registered political parties here in Nigeria today. So I want to thank the MOSOP President and thank all Ogonis for their commitment, for their tenacity, for their resolve to protect ogoni.”
Earlier in his speech, the President of MOSOP, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, called on the federal government to honour Ken Saro-wiwa with a national day for his remembrance as they did to MKO Abiola on June 12, pointing out that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
“MOSOP believes that the period of this commemoration provides the government of Nigeria with the opportunity to consummate the process of national healing and reconciliation with the Ogoni people by formally clearing the names of the Ogoni Nine of these wrongs and establish a national monument in their honour and memory”.
“This is the spirit with which the Nigerian government had engaged with the Yoruba people in recent times. The Nigerian government had awarded the winner of the June 12 Presidential Elections, Bashorun MKO Abiola with the highest honour in Nigeria’s geopolitical landscape and declared June 12 as a national public holiday. We appreciate this gesture of the Federal Government. On this Ogoni Martyrs Day, we also appeal that in the same spirit of promoting national healing and reconciliation, the government of Nigeria should extend this gesture to the Ogoni people by honouring Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other twelve (12) Ogoni martyrs”.
He also advised that efforts must be made to contain insecurity in Ogoni land and appealed to the federal and state governments to provide equipment and patrol vans to the Police to tackle insecurity.
“We are appealing to the Nigeria government to put in place more robust Security infrastructure in Ogoniland particularly police stations and policing equipment such as vehicles and personnel to provide adequate security in the Ogoni area”.
On efforts by investors to resume oil exploitation in Ogoniland , the MOSOP leader cautioned that the Ogoni should not pitch against each other rather they should agree on a common investor.
He decried attempts to manipulate the people and cause another crisis in Ogoni land.
“We are also appealing to members of Ogoni communities not to allow themselves to be deceived by any investor. It is our duty to learn from our past and find a united platform which will protect our interests collectively. What should be clear is that any investment or development or responsible oil exploitation that is people-centred and people-driven will attract the overwhelming support of the Ogoni people.”
He also appealed to the federal government to be sincere in the Ogoni clean up project as it was doing to the North East intervention where new buildings and homes are springing up.
“Whilst we appreciate the efforts of the government to end the environmental nightmare in Ogoni, we hasten to add that the slow nature of these efforts are becoming far more frustrating and have the capacity to ignite a new round of conflict in Ogoniland if nothing is done immediately”.
“Judged against other humanitarian interventions going on in the country such as the North East intervention in which new houses and infrastructure are springing up on a daily basis without the noise making and publicity stunts associated with the Ogoni intervention, we fear that the manacles and vestiges of discrimination for which these heroes laid down their lives are still with us”.
“It is on this note that we want to inform the Nigeria government and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, in particular that anything beyond commencing remediation efforts on the ground in this month of November 2018 will not be accepted by the Ogoni people”.
In his speech, the Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project,(HYPREP), Marvin Dekil, said Ogoni clean-up project was a special project that had never been executed in Nigeria and needed caution.
“The Ogoni project is a very unique project. There has been none of this type in Nigeria or anywhere in the world. We are about to start the clean up. But I also want to add that the process started a year ago. We have started series of scientific activities. They are not visible for you to see but they are important technical activities that have to be carried out for the project to be professionally delivered”.
He, however, said that HYPREP was open to advise from MOSOP and other Ogoni groups on how best to ensure effective clean-up.