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Our destiny is in our hands

Source: Ben Ikari, for OCAFAC USA.

Great Ogoni People:
The Ogoni Children Cultural and Fundamental Rights Council (OCAFAC USA) great you all in the powerful name of Ogoni and the struggle for which our ancestors fought relentlessly and refused to give up even unto death. In the name of the same struggle Ken Saro-Wiwa, Chief Edward Kobani, Dr. Barinem Kiobel, Albert Badey, John Kpuinen and many others were brutally murdered by the Nigerian State and $hell Oil, are we bringing you greetings.

As you may know this felicitation isn't ordinary, but a means of speaking to our conscience as a people of common values, interest, pains, tears and hardship-even our deprived riches. The joy that will come soon if only we stay patience and be our brothers keepers will also consume all and sundry.

Meanwhile, we read reports of Ogonis bracing up for a political spoil or fight in the media about two week ago. After a deep thought and suggestions from some Ogonis, OCAFAC has decided to ask humbly and respectfully that our politicians demonstrate restraint or some respite as they deal with each other in the forthcoming elections in Nigeria.

Although a political battlefield is unpredictable especially in Nigeria, pe'e le nam naa wee be nia be, is an Ogoni saying. It's translated:goats and cows don't fight. Why? because they're of one family-brothers/sisters! Consequently, we're asking that our politicians thread softly and with care because in the end Mr. Amaechi (Rivers State gov.) and his allies allegedly using some of our brothers against others will laugh at us saying "see Ogoni people, we thought they said they've matured."

In the aforementioned reports Magnus Abe is said to have resigned his appointment as secretary to the state government ( a sensitive position if properly utilized), at the behest of his boss Amaechi. The reason, it's said, is to ensure that another Ogoni, Sen. Lee Maeba don't return to the Nigerian senate. Victor Giadom, the incumbent chairman of Gokana local government area and Pidomson are also reported to be battle-ready for the House of Representatives while Emmanuel Deeyaa isn't ready to give up the post. Befii Nwile is also in heartbeats as new contenders emerge to unseat him from the Rivers State House of Assembly.

While we respect the fact that any qualified and credible Ogoni has the right to contest any position in the Ogoni area, and also encourage those who are in power to do right by our people, invest and vacate timely. It behooves us to also state clearly that such right shouldn't be tinted by instigation.

If we allow people from other ethnic groups in the country to pitch us against ourselves then we'd have nothing to show the youths watching and willing to learn from us to be tomorrow's leaders. We must understand that Ogoni is bigger and most important than any political or otherwise affiliations.

Those who are willing to resign and contest new positions or those coming to vie for political offices for the first time should sit back for at least 5 hours, examine their conscience and see if they're honestly determined and prepared to proceed. Our politicians should start learning how to be career-oriented and not see public offices as an avenue to settle scores or for wealth amassing at the expense of the people. Government is for nothing but the people.

Somehow, and although slow and still facing selective approach, we can see that some once powerful Nigerians including Mrs. Cecelia Ibru, the former managing director and chief executive of Oceanic Bank, PLC., has been recently sentenced to jail for corruption.

We will be sad to hear that an Ogoni politician or public official whose alleged stolen wealth would make no mark and probably land him/her in jail is investigated, indicted and jailed. It's time to watch carefully the tides; it's time our politicians think Ogoni, do right by it and also do same in whatever capacity they may serve.

Change is a process (embedded in long-term action) which sacrifice is willingness, determination, endurance, commitment, honesty and consolidation. If change isn't coming to Nigeria, then we see change coming to Ogoni. To the best of our knowledge most Ogonis will not want to be left out because of corruption.

Finally, OCAFAC is requesting that Ogonis abroad shouldn't shy away from talking to our people at home especially those in public offices to think Ogoni and do it big because when all the dust settles it's still Ogoni we'd all bear and also run to. Those politicians or whoever may want to fight themselves or fight Ogoni for our enemies interest should note that non-Ogonis will not play the roles of Ogoni people.

The testimonial is glaring as the first 50 years of the existence of Nigeria has shown. We aren't not considered or respected as a part of the country. As a result our destiny is in our hands...we must not blow whatever opportunity we've had or about to be presented to us. We need a relationship that will make us open up, be honest and protective of ourselves. We also need a relationship that spells understanding, compromise and collaboration. relationship isn't competition but the traits listed.

Ogoni will remain our pride no matter where we may be. It's one of the best places on earth and members of OCAFAC can't replace anywhere with it. Our dear love is Ogoni! Therefore, we've a duty to work hard and make it where we dream it to be.

The time to be imaginative, innovative that we create opportunities for ourselves has come. No one but us will do it. We've seen that prayers or church don't create jobs or opportunities nor change the minds of bad politicians for better. This is the truth. Anyone who doubts and thinks otherwise should please use them to assist President Barack Obama who is dealing with more than 10 percent unemployment in America. What about the near 100 percent unemployment in Ogoni or Nigeria and other parts of Africa? Only imagination, innovative minds create opportunities and build nations.

To be able to create these much needed opportunities therefore, the time has come for Ogonis to rally around a credible MOSOP and take a stand on who holds public/political offices in the next dispensation. We've to be clear hear for the avoidance of doubt. MOSOP isn't a political organization, but a sociocultural and human rights grassroots movement.

This simply means MOSOP isn't partisan-it doesn't endorse any political party. Rather, it's seeking the good of Ogoni people which includes political autonomy, good governance and democracy within Ogoni and Nigeria (even Africa) as a whole. To succeed Ogoni must have career politicians who think the interest of our nationality and will not do anything to hurt its progress.

The apex body (MOSOP) of course has a duty to enlighten Ogonis on peaceful campaigns and elections as much as it also has a duty to help recruit those that will lead Ogoni to become socio-culturally, economically and politically viable and relevant in the polity. It's also its responsibility to partner with tested groups to, enlighten and train Ogonis on matters relating to human rights; the environment and sustainable development.

Aware of these duties, OCAFAC is calling on Ogonis and MOSOP to henceforth resist any attempt by the Rivers State government or PDP on local and national levels to impose candidates of their choice on Ogoni. Democracy, good governance and respect for the people starts with their right to organize and vote for leaders/public officials of their choice. Imposition is counterproductive and could kill a people or nation.

As Ogonis, we agreed to boycott the June 12 presidential elections especially in 1993, and a conundrum was thrown at Nigeria. We're still the same people and our resolve and resilience stays intact.

We must go back to work to refine and reignite our pride standing for the truth and what's right. It's only by so doing that the Ogoni of our dream shall be actualized. And this dream can start from putting the right people in our local councils, state and national assembly, preparation for the Bori State that will test the humaneness and sensibility of the National Assembly and Nigeria's presidency.

Thank you all.
Ben Ikari, for OCAFAC USA.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Ben Ikari, for OCAFAC USA. 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."