Can Ogoni Trust President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan?
Neeka N. Meneh
4663 Tennessee Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
(314) 536- 3754
June 29, 2010.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Rock, Abuja Nigeria
I congratulate you on your inauguration as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I also mourn with you and other Nigerians the death of our former president, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar Adua. Please accept my condolence.
Your Excellency, I thank you for your recent reported visit to the devastated Ogoni. This bold step has raised the hope of poor Ogoni villagers, that somehow your administration may bring the needed change that they have sacrificed their best for.
According to APF.COM of May 25, 2010, “Nigeria's new leader Goodluck Jonathan flew to the volatile Ogoniland on Saturday winding up a historic two-day tour of the oil-rich but impoverished Niger Delta. Jonathan went to Ogoniland, native home of late prominent environmental campaigner and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, to check on infrastructural development projects in the region.”
I hope therefore, that this eye-witness account will be an eye opener to your administration and offer a new perspective in dealing with the reality of the suffering Ogoni masses. I am thankful for your visit as we await developments that will have real impact in the lives of the local people.
The degrading and dehumanizing living conditions of the Ogoni people have not changed since Nigerian Independence. Our educational institutions (at all levels) are in sorry state. There has been no infrastructural development. The roads are in despicable shape and have become death-traps. Nothing has been done to either clean the degraded environment or pay adequate compensation to the people whose sources of livelihood have been adversely affected due to decades of reckless oil exploitation. We pray that the experience of BP in the Gulf of Mexico would guide you in dealing with Ogoni/Niger Delta.
The Ogoni people seem to have been forgotten by successive Nigerian governments. As of January 2009 when a delegation of Ogonis in Diaspora went to Nigeria to assess the current condition of Ogoni, it was discovered among other things that the people still do not have common electricity, pipe-borne water, no jobs and no medical care. It was also discovered that Ogoni has been left out of state and national political affairs.
Prior administrations have appointed cabinet members including ministers with no mention of an Ogoni man or woman. Your Excellency Sir, your administration has not shown any sign of inclusion of Ogoni interest either. When will Ogoni concerns and problems be considered national issue despite our unquantifiable contribution and sacrifices? Of course, the Ogoni question of self determination/true federalism that will guarantee resource control as the panacea to Nigeria's aged problems is a national question.
Yet we raised the consciousness that brought focus on Nigeria today. The 21st century quest for Niger delta justice is the brainchild and effort of the Ogoni struggle for socioeconomic and political change or justice. Or are we being punished for raising this consciousness? The hanging of Saro-Wiwa and others led to the suspension of Nigeria from the Common Wealth of Nations until the military exited and the crippling democracy in the country today emerged. The condition given by the Common Wealth to readmit Nigeria was civil rule. Our sacrifice brought it.
It is with grave concern that I inform you that Ogoni people are aware that they have been ignored by successive Nigerian government; and we frown at that. We are nowhere in the development plans for Niger delta. Sir, this seemingly selfish and unreasonable or irrational “ignore Ogoni people” approach must change. Our people have the conviction that we do not count in the scheme of things.
Ogoni people have been too patience waiting for a messiah who will reward our peaceful and non-violent agitation for a fair share of our resources, but to no avail. We are again placing our trust and hope on you, as we did your predecessors. The Ogoni people should be granted as demanded, a fair share of our resources.
Nigeria has for more than 35 years exploited our economic resources and has put nothing back but death and poisoned environment. Meanwhile, should we not trust you to be different, or can we trust you at all? Well, we think we can give you the benefit of doubt. In doing so, we ask that you:
1. Honor the Ogoni Bill of rights
2. With profound sense of urgency, provide electricity, medical care, and clean pipe-borne water to the people of Ogoni
3. Use your presidential power to influence the National Assembly to create a state for Ogoni people
4. Include Ogoni people in national appointments.
5. Open your door for dialogue with credible leaders of Ogoni and organizations in Diaspora including; Ogoni Charities Inc, National Union of Ogoni Students Intl. USA, MOSOP-USA and other like groups.
6. Not allow your administration to impose political leaders on Ogoni as previous impositions have yielded no dividend. Please allow us to choose/vote for our own political/cultural leaders for we know our leaders better than any other people do.
7. Revisit the flawed judicial process, which wrongfully convicted Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis.
I anticipate your timely response as we are willing to assist you in accomplishing these demands and other issues of national interest.
Mr. Neeka N. Meneh
USA based Businessman