By Ben Ikari
Dear Ogoni Intellectuals,
I am seizing this medium to greet you all in the greatest name of Ogoni. May I also state categorical clear that, what is happening down the street or say in Nigeria currently affect Ogoni seriously than some or most may think. It is serious Ogoni business and not Goodluck Diigbo’s even though his actions caused it. Therefore, I ask humbly and respectfully that you should wear your fine armor of patriotism for Ogoni and use your general, expert and knowledge of Ogoni struggle, the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR), which isn’t strange to Nigeria to educate Nigerians in particular and the world about the Ogoni demand for Political Autonomy.
Political Autonomy as declared in the OBR implies, a political structure or state (or by whatever name called) strictly for Ogonis and within our land or territory, not Bori State that will comprise of other ethnic groups, if created or like Rivers State with lumped ethnic groups, as with states created for the Hausa-Fulanis,Yorubas, Igbos, Ibibios and Ijaws, etc.
Our Political Autonomy or Self-Rule, Self-State or otherwise Government within Nigeria that is without unnecessary interference from the federal government, as can be seen or common in Nigeria, is consistent with Nigeria’s political philosophy, theory or structuring. What Ogoni seeks is a unique characteristic of a federation which Nigeria claims to be,though states are created in Nigeria mostly on ethnic basis because the country is meant to be a federation of ethnic group,considering the precolonial existence,territory of these groups before the birth of Nigeria.
The United States of America, for instance, is also a federation of autonomous states (not based on ethnic groups and since it’s a country of migrants, except the Native Indians who are indigenous), which creates their political structures, educational system among others and create, use their resources to develop at their pace, yet under and in collaboration with the central government.
It’s evident that other ethnic groups in Nigeria have demanded the same thing Ogonis are demanding and have been accorded or given. Of the current 36 states, no ethnic group in Nigeria has been terrorized or killed for demanding Political Autonomy or a state. Unfortunately, Ogonis have to struggle and be killed for demanding such right despite their recorded contribution of oil and other resources for the development, which includes the creation of most of these 36 states in the country.
Therefore, as Ogonis and especially intellectuals your responsibility, duty is to stand up for Ogoni in good and bad times. The name behind this action causing controversy shouldn’t mislead or sway you. We may all agree on the problems with the Diigbo’s-factional declaration. That’s, it could be said to be first such declaration for Political Autonomy unilateral or independent of government approval in the history of Nigeria, and also that most Nigerians ignored the Ogoni Bill of Rights until now.
Meanwhile, we must be clear, what Diigbo declared isn’t the same as what Adaka Boro or Odumegwu Ojukwu declared. The former declared Niger delta Republic from Nigeria in 1966, and the latter declared Biafra Republic, or what is known as Sovereign State of Biafra from Nigeria in 1967.
Although they’d legitimate claims, they both failed because they’re seceding from Nigeria. That’s, they sought independence. As such it’s considered anti-state action even though such action for independence isn’t prohibited by international law. Ogoni demand for Political Autonomy shall not fail because it’s a nonviolent, peaceful and intellectual demand consistent with the states or federating unit system in Nigeria. In short,the Nigerian government created the existing 36 states, though mostly by military fiat, which gave leverage to the Hausa-Fulanis, Yorubas and Igbos to carve more states for themselves because of their systemic hegemony and the artificially created minority status of the rest groups, which includes Ogoni.
Conclusively, Ogoni like any other group oppressed in Nigeria deserves better treatment and not unending disrespect,humiliation, killings and environmental pollution,which the government, $hell and most Nigerians don’t see as an issue so care less. As historical political or social struggles for change have shown, Diigbo’s action could be a blessing in disguise as could also become a problem. They say often that everything happens for a reason; it could be that this declaration would wake Nigeria and its peoples up that they may respect and treat every group and individuals as equals who deserve the best.
Whether good or bad we must not run away from such consequences, because we can’t leave Ogoni for any other place on earth as our ancestral home. Ogoni is one of the best places on earth to live, grow and become successful if allowed its freedom/Political Autonomy,and it becomes developed. We’re Ogonis, the oppressed, yet rich and fearless people who see the moral and legal need, justification to demand our rights in Nigeria.
Our intellectual vigor at stepping up without fear or favor as those who have been brutalized yet deserves equal rights can help bring this flying blessing to fruition. That is by properly dissecting the current situation, effectively and in all honesty enlighten/educate Nigerians of our plight and demands as enshrined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR), which Political Autonomy or a state, self-rule for Ogoni in Nigeria, as given to other ethnic groups in the country is the minimum we will accept.
Your intellectual voice matters. Therefore, come on board, exhibit it that Ogoni would be raised to its rightful place in the scheme of things in the Nigeria Republic, that we shall all grow and succeed together as one indivisible nation in strength, peace, harmony and security.
Thank you very much.
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