The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has said that endemic injustices which characterise the structure and leadership framework in Nigeria has aggravated the demands for the rights to self-determination across the country.
MOSOP explained that the demands are by groups who feel increasingly deprived and therefore desire to drive their own future based on their priorities.
In his speech to mark the 21 years of uninterrupted civilian rule in Nigeria, held at MOSOP national secretariat in Bori-Ogoni, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, the group’s president, Fegalo Nsuke, called on the Nigerian government to take measure to address systemic injustices that are affecting the Nigerian civil and political space and dwindling citizen’s confidence in the system.
He added that the government must not ignore the calls for self-determination by the various groups dominantly, the Ogonis, noting that these agitations could be turned into an opportunity for nation-building, advancing peace and development in their communities.
The MOSOP president further said that for the Ogoni people, the political demands for self-determination could not be compromised because “we cannot continue to tolerate the unjust system in which we live and we have no political space to decide our own future and implement development based on our priorities.”
He acknowledged that significant political differences accounted for the calls for self-determination among various groups within the Nigerian political space and urged the government not to pretend about the disenchantment of Nigerians with the present political structure of Nigeria.
Blaming the rising tension on a predominantly unjust system, he said that the time had come for government to listen to Nigerians and act accordingly to calm aggrieved nerves.
“The present state of Nigeria stems from a very unjust system. Take the Ogoni for instance, our land and resources have been taken by the state and Shell Petroleum. When we complained, they sent Nigerian soldiers after us and they killed an estimated 4,000 people between 1993 and 1999. Shell’s activities in over 60 years in Ogoni have caused the death of over 300,000 people. They have not yet addressed our concerns despite repeated calls,” Nsuke said.
He urged the Nigerian government to urgently consider ways to address the grievances which have seriously fractured Nigeria’s unity before it turns irreconcilable.
He said most of the issues raised by aggrieved groups are genuine and deserve to be addressed.
“Most of the concerns raised by Nigerians are genuine and border on abuses which deserve to be addressed. We the Ogoni people have raised questions about resource exploitation and political marginalisation. These are genuine concerns for our community which generates more revenue than 20 Nigerian states put together yet we do not get an allocation because we are denied the rights to self-determination.”
Nsuke said the Ogoni people had made several attempts at getting the Nigerian government to address their fundamental rights demands.
He said the late Ken Saro-Wiwa made two presentations to the government, the late Gbene Nunieh made one to the Nigerian Senate, former MOSOP president, Ledum Mitee made at least three, he, himself, had made at least one to President Muhammadu Buhari and there were several others.
According to him, Nigeria’s obstinacy and failure to address peaceful and legitimate demands of citizens were decreasing citizen’s confidence in the system and setting society in retrogression.
Nsuke said the Ogoni demanded for political rights to self-determination, expressed in the submissions to government is a fundamental rights provision under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
According to him, for the Ogoni people, self-determination means the political rights to exist within a defined Ogoni territory in Nigeria and control a fair proportion of Ogoni resources which should be committed to Ogoni development.
While assuring the people of the commitment of MOSOP to sustain the struggle for Ogoni rights through its peaceful methods, he enjoined Ogonis to keep the peace while the struggle is legitimately pursued.
He, however, expressed worries that the state was becoming more repressive through its law enforcement organs and the Nigerian system is continuously deteriorating in respect to protecting the rights of the people.
The MOSOP president advised the Nigerian authorities to comply with the right standards to advance the cause of peace and progress in the country.
He described as baseless, insinuations that some herders want to overrun the southern parts of the country, asserting that those communications which have taken over the social media are only generated to deepen hate and division among Nigerians.
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