Ogoni May Leave Nigeria-This is the last Opportunity

Source: Ben Ikari.
Listen to article

Ogoni may be forced to start applying its natural right as affirmed by international law to Self-Determination. It will do so if Nigeria and its rulers remain adamant and continue to ignore the people's demands as stipulated in the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR).

If the Nigerian politicians refuse to accord the Ogoni nationality the respect it deserves and treat her equally like other groups by granting a desirable political autonomy within Nigeria. Ogonis will have no option but make their holistic, legal and justified move to peacefully rule ourselves.

Implying that, should Nigeria continue its policies of colonization against Ogoni and especially deny the creation of Bori State it seeks with its neighbors, the oil-rich nationality will be compelled to invoke the United Nations decolonization resolutions to assert its right to not be colonized further.

It is hoped that Nigeria will for once do the right thing in the anticipated (no specified deadline) state creation exercise by the National Assembly.

Bori State demanded by Ogonis and their neighbors of Opobo and Andoni is very viable and will not be parasitic like most of the present 36 states created for the expansion of the tripartite ethnic groups. It will therefore be unacceptable and the basis for the Ogoni nationality's preparation to seek Self-Determination should we be disrespected and ignore again.

The process to Self-Determination is rigorous and long, but achievable. We have the natural and legal right as bearers of pre-colonial independence or sovereignty to do so. The will and determination is not lacked.

Ogoni nationality is distinct in nature. It has its unique language, culture and traditions that are different from other Nigerians. The people had lived on the land they inhabit with ease and were happy before British invasion in the late 1800.

Ogoni is a nationality, which pre-colonial sovereignty was tampered in 1901, when the British colonial government forced its way through the Kono River. This was after several fierce fights between the British army and Ogoni warriors ensued without the imperial army's success. Despite this endeavor the imperialists could not penetrate fully until 1905. Control over Ogoni was still haphazard many years later.

Although coerced at gunpoint, Ogoni did not sign any document ceding its sovereignty to Britain nor has it ceded such to Nigeria or any other group even in the face of the current colonization by Nigeria.

Ogoni is one of the many nationalities forced against their wishes to form the Southern and Northern Protectorates that were merged in 1914-the amalgamation. It is this criminal and unholy action by Major Lord Lugard and the British government that officially brought about the artificial creation of Nigeria on October 1, 1960.

By implication, Nigeria was not colonized by the British because it never existed until the sign that came during the forced and brutal amalgamation. Even at amalgamation there was still no Nigeria. It was not until the "improper decolonization" of the above protectorates which had Ogoni nationality as one of the British colonies, which had independence.

This improper and illegal coercion of about more than 250 different nationalities to create an artificial nation (Nigeria) derived from the River Niger, by Lugard's wife is the real problem facing the nation. It was this manner of imperial coercion that led to the struggle for the reassertion of independence around the world. America, like many African nations also sought independence from this over-lordship and imperialism.

Until this fraudulent creation is honestly addressed and open dialogue with the Ogoni people and other ethnic groups take place, the falsely sought peace and stability in Nigeria will remain elusive. The philosophies for a more equitable and better world have continued to evolve. Drastic changes have occurred over the decades. Those ruling Nigeria must therefore think civilly and learn to adapt to these changes. They must change their approach in dealing with all the peoples of the nation for better.

Nigerian rulers find it so difficult to adapt. The same crooked manner Lugard and the British government concocted Nigeria has remained. Corruption has stayed in high places while the common people belt their stomach to wade off hunger. Change may only come when the people are allowed to freely write THE PEOPLE'S CONSTITUTION and are able to elect their leaders so they can hold them accountable. Presently Niger delta resources is a free for all-no accountability. No one knows how much Nigeria makes and spends from our oil.

When Nigeria formally attained a semblance of nationhood in 1963, when the national constitution became operational, Ogoni which is older than Nigeria, and other groups were not consulted. The forced peoples were not integrated nor was there any referendum which allowed Ogoni and other independent nationalities to vote whether to form a new country, which will dismantled the original sovereignty.

This consultation is of utmost importance. What has happened in Nigeria is like a man and his parents forcing a woman they do not know into marriage against her wish. There will be constant problems as she will always contest she never gave her consent. Such forcing or coercion as in the creation of Nigeria is criminal.

The amalgamation of Nigeria by Britain was illegal hence fraudulent as many in the country and beyond, including Richard Akinjide, QC, SAN, a member of the Nigeria's first cabinet that was overthrown by the military in 1966 also believe. Akinjide was the federal minister of education in that cabinet. Not only was the amalgamation a fraud and still is, it's also poisonous.

"The amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates by Lord Lugard in 1914 is a poison which can kill Nigeria if nothing is done about it," Comrade Debo Adeniran, who is a founding member of the National Salvation Front said.

The Sarduana of Sokoto Sir Amadu Bello, assessing the North and South political crisis of 1953, in his book: "My Life," Cambridge press, 1962, also said, "The mistake of 1914 has come to light."

Ogonis, knowing the reality and implications of 1914, under the force of arms remained in Nigeria against our wish. Irrespective of this reality the opportunists who call themselves leaders have refused to be reasonable and responsible. They have refused to be fair; and just or exhibit acceptable leadership qualities and pragmatism. A total disaster even within 50 years of independence is the result of this irrationality, irresponsibility and incompetence.

Corrupt, irresponsible, ignorant, incompetent, deadly and criminally minded politicians are prevalent. Political thuggery, greed, blood-bath and much more that reminiscent Lugard's 1914 action pervades the nation. Is there any need to be surprised? The nation's 50 years experiment exhibit the reasons Britain and few Nigerians forced the state to be...the economic advantage of the colonizers and the so-called majority, especially the Northern ethnic group.

Given the aforementioned reasons Nigerian rulers have continued to exploit and treat Ogonis like conquered people or slaves. Yet Ogonis can not be slaves in Nigerian. We were not at any point invaded by any nation called Nigeria, not to talk of colonizing her until British intrusion. The Ogoni people deserve to be respected and treated equally like other Nigerians, if we must stay together.

Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

The continuous mistreatment, disrespect, threats, killings, denial of fundamental rights and freedom of the Ogoni people and the despoliation of our environment by Nigeria rulers contravenes the aforementioned Declaration and this is unacceptable. It is against both national and international laws.

Consequently, in protecting our rights and not be extinct from the surface of the earth, which seems to be the ground design by the Nigerian government, the principles of Self Determination shall be invoked should Ogoni be relegated to become beggars in the midst of plenty in their own land again.

Such invocation shall be according to UN specifications. It shall be done in a peaceful, civilized and nonviolent manner Ogoni is known. Those groups, which have been carved into a multiplicity of states as a means to usurp the Ogoni and Niger delta oil/gas resources are not qualified as ethnic nationalities than Ogoni.

The contraption Nigeria is no doubt a multi-ethnic state. In such state or nation all ethnic groups are equal irrespective of size or other considerations. What matters is that these groups must use whatever resources they have to develop at their pace and not take undue advantage of others. Where the need arise, those who have will share with the have not. The have not also have a duty to think deeper, become innovative and create opportunities for themselves.

To disallow Ogoni from using its resource is against international covenants, which Nigeria is signatory. Henceforth, Ogonis will begin to work out modalities guaranteed under the UN protocols to apply their resources to their developments.

Ogoni has become victim of the madness of 1914. When the British left they were supposed to return Ogoni (proper decolonization) to its original status as an independent nationality. That was not done. We were illegally forced into Nigeria and so have the legal right to reassert and affirm our pre-colonial identity as about 17 African nations including Nigeria did in 1960.

Throughout Africa, British colonialists, the French, Netherlands and other Europeans forced pre-colonial and different independent peoples into forming nations that have today become the worst pain any people can anticipate. African conflicts and bloodshed are caused mostly by these poisonous coercion.

The earlier Nigerian rulers acknowledge this illegal amalgamation and respect our differences the better. The earlier it respect the rights of all the nationalities forced into the protectorates that formed this contraption, adopt proper federalism, democracy and accord every group equal right and opportunities, the better and peaceful coexistence we will achieve.

As Pres. Goodluck Jonathan (of Nigeria) clearly alluded, while addressing the 65th session of the UN General Assembly last week in New York (USA) that "preventive diplomacy" that will cost less and bring peace and harmony instead of conflict is the best option. Hard, treacherous, oppressive and winner take-all diplomacy will cost more in security arrangements, collateral damages and international peacekeeping.

This should not be an option. Jonathan should not just say the above by mouth, but be practical by working with the National Assembly to create the Bori State as a preventive measure hence peace, amicable coexistence and stability.

Failure to do as enunciated shall widen the threats to national stability and peace of the false union up to its actual demise. If Nigeria fails henceforth to do what is proper and treat Ogoni with respect, dignity and consideration, it will arm the people with their natural rights under international law to seek and attain Self-Determination.

The masterminds of Nigeria, in consonance with Britain used the principles of rights to nationality and Self-Determination as prescribed by the UN to wrongfully gain independence. Such independence led to Nigeria being admitted to the UN on October 7, 1960.

Ogoni shall likewise use the UN resolution 1514 (xv) of 1960, that was reaffirmed in 2009, in support of UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948 to formally apply its pre-colonial sovereignty. The above resolution reaffirms a people's right to Self-Determination. It is design to assist people such as Ogonis who had pre-colonial sovereignty as a nationality seek to be free and self-determined.

No nation known as Nigeria had pre-colonial sovereignty. Nigeria only came to being during its concoction into a false and forced nation in 1960. Thus the 1514 resolution reaffirms the rights of pre-colonial nationalities (such as Ogoni) forced against their wishes into colonization to determine their political status and economic development without any interference.

Article 15, sections 1 and 2 of the Universal Declaration guarantees the right to (and non-denial of change) individual's nationality. Section (1) read: "Everyone has the right to a nationality." (2), "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality."

Therefore Ogonis have right to their nationality and will work assiduously to protect this right as guaranteed by international treaties. Our right to Self-Rule that was altered but not completely taken by the imperial power shall be fought for and vigorously restored with peaceful approaches. Some held peoples are working hard to reclaim their rights to Self Determination or Self-Rule. It will therefore not be a strange thing to Nigeria because it illegally applied these rules.

It is reported in the UN records that 16 "Non-Self-Governing Territories" exist. This has raised the American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and Guam, etc. questions. They were (like Ogoni) originally free and independent, but currently held and colonized peoples. Of special note is the people of Tokelau, which is a Non-Self-Governing Territory administered by New Zealand like Ogoni in Nigeria.

Although its 2006-2007 referendum to gain Self-Determination was not up to a two-thirds majority, the UN Special Committee on Decolonization approved a draft resolution to the General Assembly. It urged the General Assembly to note the continued recognition of the government of New Zealand of the rights of the Territory's people to Self-Determination.

South Sudan will be conducting a referendum to leave Sudan (North) in January 2011. Nigeria will have no option but recognize Ogoni rights to Self-Determination if we are push there.

Alongside the UN General Assembly resolution 63/110 adopted in 2008, which requires the Special Committee to continue seeking suitable means of the immediate and full implementation of the decolonization declaration is resolution 51/146.

This also specifically and seriously stress the implementation of the Declaration granting independence to colonial countries and peoples such as Ogoni. These resolutions or protocols are international laws that are "Jus Cogen." That is, they're compelling laws all nations are required to respect and observe in utmost good faith.

Finally, Ogoni with a population of more than 1 million people is larger in population than more than 30 nations on earth. Among these nations are Andorra (about 84, 082), Sao Tome & Principe (about 170, 000), Cape Verde (about 513, 000 people); and Luxembourg (about 502, 207). While the four most populated nations are China, with about 1, 339,710,00; India, with about 1, 888, 140, 000; the United States of America, about 310, 346, 000; and Indonesia is about 237, 556, 363. This data shows the world is diverse with both small and large nations. One thing these nations have in common is the willingness and determination to become and stay self determined.

Ogoni, with its more than 1 million population and richness in human, oil and gas resources to mention but few makes her qualify as a nation. Its pre-colonial sovereignty doubles its rights to become self determined like those mentioned above. It is criminal and against international law for the Nigerian government to hinder Ogonis from using these resources for their political, social and economic development and growth.

Ken Saro-Wiwa, who helped the Federal government under Rt. Gen. Yakubu Gowon keep Nigeria from secession in the civil war of 1967-1970, was a political philosopher, renowned writer of international repute, environmental and civil rights crusader. He was murdered by hanging with 8 others in 1995.

Saro-Wiwa died for no crimes of his own, but that he peacefully and nonviolently organized his people to stand up and assert their basic rights as other Nigerians. These rights are protected by the Nigerian Constitution. Between 1993 and 2000 more than 6 thousand Ogoni people were also murdered in cold-blood for being Ogoni and living on an oil-rich land.

Ironically, those who have committed some of the worst crimes on earth, including those who led a violent secession war to leave Nigeria are still walking free on the streets of Nigeria today. Ogonis have been killed like rabbits because they are considered minority who can not threaten the political and economic stability of the country. We have had enough and the revolution has just begun!

Not even an acknowledgment or apology has come from the Federal government. In addition, our once green, beautiful and safe environment has been depleted due to reckless oil extraction by multinational corporations, Shell especially, in joint venture business with the government.

We are denied basic necessities such as water and adequate educational facilities, hospital, access road, electricity and jobs. Our nationality seems to have been scheduled for systematic extinction-and this is unacceptable! We have a right to live and so must peacefully fight for it.

The Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR), which stipulates the protection of our language and culture that is fast dying, adequate representation as of right in all national institutions of Nigeria and the protection of our environment has been fragrantly ignored by the Nigerian State. This is after the bill was originally presented to the government 20 years ago.

This bill also demands as minimum, political autonomy (an Ogoni State or by whatever name called) within Nigeria, that will guarantee the control of the Ogoni affairs by Ogonis. Such autonomy has been given to other Nigerians and so this demand is not extraneous. It is simply the fairest thing to do for a people who have contributed so much to the polity.

It is a historical fact all over the world that state creation brings development and better life to the grassroots. Now is the time to develop Ogoni and its neighbors with the creation of Bori State that will also help strengthen the central government.

The Ogoni people have struggled and suffered untold hardship and death for 109 years. That is since 1901 when Britain tampered with our Self Rule to this date. We are only good for exploitation, hanging and degraded environment and not anything positive, by Nigeria's point of view.

The time therefore has come to let Nigerians and the world understand that Ogoni has come of age and has equal right like any other group or nationalities. The time to assert our rights is now!

We have been so oppressed and exploited that our situation has become pathetic beyond the invocation of procedure 1503 of UN convention, which permits the petition (by people such as Ogonis) of an established pattern of discrimination, exploitation and oppression against diabolical nations such as Nigeria.

The Committee for the Actualization of Ogoni Self Determination (CAOSD), Ogoni Children Cultural and Fundamental Rights Council (OCAFAC-USA), and the Crusaders of Justice and Peace for Ogoni (CJPO) are prepared to work with other Ogoni groups (including MOSOP) and our international friends to peacefully bring to reality our freedom.

We are poised to be free using all relevant international instruments Nigeria is signatory should it refuse this time to grant the Bori State demanded by the great, hard working and hospitable peoples of Ogoni, Opobo and Andoni.

Dumnaata Thompson, for and on behalf of CAOSD
Ben Ikari, for and on behalf of OCAFAC, and Wisdom
Adaba, for and on behalf of CJPO)

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."