The Ogoni Cleanup and a Sense of Decency
Ogoni has become Nigeria's latest image laundering parameter. At every opportunity, the country will announce it has launched the cleanup of Ogoniland - a project that is gradually degenerating to become another victim of Nigeria's well acknowledged state corruption.
The progress made on the Ogoni cleanup is known only to the government. To many, a presidential approval of governing structures amount to progress though the people of Ogoni still cannot have access to safe drinking water, not to talk of electricity, basic schools and roads.
When the government cannot find an excuse for delaying the restoration of the Ogoni environment, it inaugurates boards to mark years of delays, disappointments and failures.
We have just passed one year mark after the very costly, elaborate and seemingly deceptive launch of the cleanup in Bodo and just two months away to mark one year after the inauguration of the governing structures.
What has been achieved within the period? Not even the construction of the laboratory (Integrated Soil Management Center) which should support the geological investigations has commenced. Not a single water project has been fixed by HYPREP to provide water for the people. What we rather see are desperate attempts by government agencies like HYPREP to give a false impression about the real situation. But the fact is that Ogoni still drinks poisoned water and remains polluted and these cannot be changed by internal processes and media promotions.
So it makes no sense that billions of public funds are being spent on internal processes when the people whose lives are in danger are not attended to.
I see what Ogoni is passing through in Nigeria as the worst degenerative experience of humanity. In less than one year, these same people will return to Ogoniland seeking votes from people whose humanity and dignity have been violated by their own government, people who are not sure of their tomorrow, people who certainly will die of terminal diseases like cancer, people whose lives have become nightmares, whose resources have been ruthlessly exploited to build Abuja, Lagos and make corrupt public administrators super rich.
In the midst of all these, one Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) is busy canvassing to resume oil production in Ogoniland. What a shame!
We are tired of these gimmicks and we want action on the cleanup, We want Nigeria to respect us as Ogoni people and treat us as humans with rights. We also want the NPDC to stay away from Ogoniland.
Nigeria and Shell should as a matter of urgency, clean up their mess in Ogoniland and respect our rights to live a dignified life.
The author, Fegalo Nsuke is the Publicity Secretary of The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) He wrote from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.