Periscoping Suage Alexander Badey As He Was Appointed Member Governing Board RUST

By Odimegwu Onwumere

The name Suage Alexander Badey is known to many Nigerians who were following the tumultuous atmosphere in Ogoni before 1995 carnage by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPCDC) and the Federal Government that pummeled many Ogoni sons and daughters to the soil, but not known to few Nigerians who did not follow the events of that tragidic period.

Suage is the first son of late Chief Albert Badey (a former Secretary to Rivers State Government), who was alongside three prominent chiefs of Ogoni –Edward Kobani (Ken's onetime benefactor), Theophilus Orage and Sam Orage (Ken's brothers-in-law) – paid for their self-control with their lives. Reports had it that they were assassinated by a bloodthirsty pro-Ken mob in broad daylight. One observer rightly puts it, “They were just as committed to their tribe's interests as Ken was, their only “crime” being their fear that Ken's radicalism would cause dangerous overheating at the grassroots level and their belief that Ogoniland's conflicts with Shell and its Governmental partners could be resolved via civilized dialogue”.

A university don, Mr. Suage Badey was recently appointed member Governing Board of Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RUST), Port Harcourt by the indomitable government of Rivers State led by Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi. Apart from that, Mr. Suage is the Chairman Rivers State chapter of the Action Congress. He was unanimously appointed to this position in 2008 when the National body of the party saw the need for that, which position the Prince of Niger Delta Politics, Prince Tonye TJT Princewill held from 2007 when he contested the gubernatorial election in the state under the platform of the party. Apart from Princewill is the chronic leader of the party and the BOT chairman of the recently formed Forum of Organized Opposition Political Parties (FOOPP) headed by the stoical Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya who the Commissioner under Amaechi, Suage has exemplified himself as truly a leader being the son of a clan chief in his kingdom of Ogoni who paid a supreme prize with his life to seeing that his Ogoni people ever lived in peace and harmony.

Until his appointment as member Governing Board RUST, Mr. Suage has always maintained a clout no other person can maintain on that position. Though gentle, Suage is like a crab that no one eats in the hideout. He must be heard. He is outspoken with little radicality, intellectually brave and have always maintained a gesture as a writer and as an orator equivalent or more than the celebrated President of America, Mr. Barack Obama, but because he is taking his time to climb, many people only know him as the son of the slain Chief Albert Badey, but he is more than that in mentioning.

In his letter made available to newsmen in June this year when it was open fact that the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPCDC), Nigeria was in the tone of compensating Ogoni 9 who was killed by the federal government in 1995, Mr. Suage condemned the move and described it as uncalled for following the killing of his father and other 3 chiefs of Ogoni popularly referred to as Ogoni 4. in his address, he said, “It is sad to note that Shell in coming to negotiation with the Ogoni 9, decided to bruise the long battered and injured souls of the families of the Ogoni 4 by paying compensation to the murderers of our fathers. We did not need a reminder of the ugly incident anymore having had some measure of reconciliation. I agree with Desmond Orage when he best described it aptly as a second blow below the belt”.

In his serene nature, Suage said that the Ogoni 4 families will always subscribe to any agreement that would engender peace, provide an enabling environment as well as improve the well being of Ogoni People. Shell and the Nigerian Government no doubt are collaborators in the ills that brought about total darkness across Ogoni landscape. He said that they still hope for the day that truth which precedes light would be exposed and allow for open minded discussions that will encourage true reconciliation for the Ogonis so they can once more regain their lost love and unity as a people and in the same stroke give way for the penetrating light of truth. He said that truth if suppressed would and will always punctuate a purposeful journey and render it rudderless.

However, Suage said that he feels for the late Ken Wiwa who was equally as passionate as his (Suage) father and his friends, late Edward Kobani, Samuel Orage and Theophilus Orage over the Ogoni problem as they collectively felt the pains of their deprived people, a people whose land had been raped, resources carted away to distant lands for their development while leaving their people and land impoverished and devastated.

He said that it was a collective call to duty but the introduction of violent methods in the struggle by the late Ken Wiwa culminated into what has now been known as the Ogoni 4 and Ogoni 9. In order for the focus to regain its initial momentum they must not be shy to speak and propagate the truth. They must be bold and ready to unearth the suppressed truth while revealing the wrongs committed.

He said: Joining the band wagon because one shouts the loudest should not be the approach to issues as sensitive as this; late Ken Wiwa orchestrated the murder of the Ogoni 4 who are wrongly and frequently referred to as mere community Chiefs rather than leaders of Ogoni who had considerable influence and respect for who they were and the numerous contributions each had made for the upliftment of their people.

He referred to the Ogoni 4 as intellectuals though not writers but respected citizens of Nigeria who had served their country in various capacities meritoriously without blemish. A Trust Fund that would accommodate the different shades of opinion with regards to their pains in general terms would have been most appropriate.

He sees Shell as a proponent of good and evil when he said, “I am forced to think that Shell is on a new agenda to create more tension in the land that could lead to another catastrophe. Donu Kogbara was right when she said the Government should be proactive and immediately commence serious and genuine development of the area. Every Ogoni and Niger Deltan no matter how privileged you are would certainly be angered by the level of disdain for people in oil producing areas who live in abject poverty while distant places like Abuja and around the world are being developed from the resources being taken unjustly from their land. Kenneth Kobani also correctly pointed out the legal implications that need to be looked into. The journey to truth is not yet closed however strong the current and tide of untruths may seem. We would take appropriate legal steps as advised by our attorneys”.

Quoting Ken Wiwa Jr., Suage said "that it draws a line under the past " but however he would use the same phrase to buttress his point, it has actually drawn a line, a deep and divisive line through their painful past especially when it has to do with insulting the sensibilities of the families of the Ogoni 4 who till this moment have not seen the bodies of their fathers who were butchered and taken away. “We are still in need of their bodies for proper burial rites 15 years down the line. 15 years now, we have been unduly traumatised. I still wake up with nightmares of my father suddenly appearing but looking terribly beaten with wounds all over his body because we never saw his body for us to confirm that he is no more. I wonder what their wives; our mothers would be going through every night…we are compelled to ask Shell and the Ogoni 9 who appear to have some understanding where the bodies of our father are and why they felt they deserved such a brutal end?”

Since the Shell payment and the protest letter of Suage was seen, a lot of people have reacted. One observer said that the Press has always canonized who they wanted and demonized who they hated or at least neglected those not loved. It is the same press that demonized Abacha, that were used by Obasanjo to hoodwink Nigerians, as he and his cohorts ravaged Nigerian in all areas of her life-political, educational, security, energy, infrastructural etc, for eight years; leaving her bleeding and her youths despondent.

The protest shows much truth can be hidden under populist press reporting. I feel there is no justice to celebrate in the SHELL SETTLEMENT.; when the four high, humble and peace loving members of the Ogoni community are simply ignored.

In the face of Ken's press orchestrated 'activism and martyrdom', one forgot how much money he made from the agitation and how WICKEDLY he was on the issue of ABANDONED PROPERTIES of his fellow southerners (Ndi-Igbo) after the civil war. We may not all have the money and popularity to go to America and sue SHELL or the government, but we must all bear in mind that every blood is sacred; that of Ken and the Ogoni 4, others. Let us speak up the truth and let us stand by it. If not, the blood of the UNSUNG FOUR will keep crying to Heaven for justice, and neither the perpetrators of the dastardly killing nor those who sweep their death under the carpet would ever know peace. The Shell's settlement is a truth that is bitter to many, but remains as true as daylight.

Another person said that for the first time since this Kenomania started I have read something different from 'all holy Ken' articles. At one time I wondered if the Ogoni 4 that was gruesomely murdered by some irate crowd under the influence of one of Ken's sterling speeches were human being or mere figure, Ogoni 4. Ken was a speaker with unimaginable hold on his people. The most innocent blood that cries loud but unheard in the Ogoni land and even in the entire Niger Delta is that of this Ogoni 4. These were the people that opted for peaceful and diplomatic tactics in addressing the ecological situation of their communities. These men saw the plight of the Ndi-Igbo after the civil war and decided that violence was not an option. Their stance was against Ken's violent leaning, and they were ultimately slaughtered for dissenting. Shortly after this, all the media outfits became awash with 'justice at last' over Shell's out of court settlement for Ogoni 9 suit. Yet the entire media world turned deaf ear to the cry for justice of Ogoni 4's blood who were exterminated at the instance of Ken for dissenting. They forgot the agony of the widows of these men. Even the widows' right activists are scared of discussing such injustice. Today the families of Ogoni 4 are outcast in Ogoni land. Voltaire said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Ken acted: “I disapprove of what you say, and I will destroy you for saying it.” Then worst disservice to justice was done by the media world who writes: “I approve of Ken's actions, and I will elevate him to glory for acting it.” The truth needed to be told in order to educate our ignorant journalists and other people who have conveniently forgotten the 'Ogoni 4'. Ken's outbursts against them led to their being called vultures and their consequent lynching. Let the records always be clear without sentiments so that history can be understood in correct perspectives. Peace and justice will continue to elude this region until the people of this region admit with sincere remorse that the killing of these four prominent chiefs - Edward Kobani (Ken's onetime benefactor), Albert Badey (a former Secretary to Rivers State Government), Theophilus Orage and Sam Orage (Ken's brothers-in-law) - by Ken's irate crowd was unjust, barbaric, and most regrettable.

Notwithstanding, since 2008 Suage was appointed the Rivers AC chair, the party had remained intact and and maintains its identity in spite of being in the state Unity Government. When on 25th June, 2009 44 opposition parties, including the AC recently resolved to participate in the Unity Government, Badey told the pressmen in Port Harcourt that in spite of the arrangement, AC remained focus and well organised. In his words: ``Any unbiased person will see that we have not lost our identity. We have contributed meaningfully in the government, particularly in the area of Urban Development, where we have a Commissioner. ``We also had a Commissioner for Special Duties, who did so well before he was dropped''.

It was Suage Badey's democratic posture that perhaps attracted the 44 opposition parities to join the unity government because this is a feat that was recorded under his leadership because the Rivers AC is known for its objectively criticisms of the government, ``which was why other parties rallied together to adopt our member, Prince Tonye Princewill, the leader of the opposition in the state,'' said Suage.

He is not afraid to say the truth and is ready to pay for it. Nigerians could remember that Suage Badey open told Amaechi that ``we are going to constantly criticise the government. We are in the unity government, because we want to ensure that there is good governance”. Though ``We identify with Governor Amaechi, because he has a progressive mind. You can see what our party is doing in Lagos and Edo States . We are happy with the changes Amaechi has carried out in Rivers”.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State. +2348032552855. [email protected]