(By Favour Otuekong)-On this day in 1995, Human Rights Activist and Environmentalist, Ken Saro Wiwa along with eight Ogoni activists (Ogoni Nine) who where peacefully agitating for the right and dignity of their land, were executed by the Nigerian Military Government led by Sani Abacha, for daring to speak up against the contaminated and devastated state of their homeland, due to crude oil exploitation by Shell.
His death provoked serious international outrage, such as the immediate suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth of Nations in 1995, eviction of Miss Nigeria from Miss World Beauty pageant, etc.
As part of the Ogoni Reconciliation Process, in 2011 at the request of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, conducted an assessment of the environmental and public health impacts of oil contamination of lands and waters in Ogoniland, and provide options for remediation.
The UNEP report recommended among other things,
*The immediate provision of potable water for the people of Ogoni, as an emergency measure, since the underground water in Ogoni is highly contaminated.
*A thorough clean up(remediation) of Ogoniland with compensation to the impacted communities.
* The Restoration of livelihoods for communities whose sources of livelihoods were impacted by the pollution.
*The setting up of a center of excellence (a research institute or a university) for continuous research into environmental and hydrocarbon pollution in Nigeria.
*The setting up of a Trust Fund and that the sum of $2biilion should be paid into the trust fund consecutively for five years.
* And lastly, the Ogoni cleanup should be used as a template for the cleaning up of other oil polluted communities in the Niger Delta.
In 2016, the Buhari led government came with pomp and pageantry to flag off the implementation of these recommendations of UNEP, popularly called UNEP Report.
But up till today, the Buhari led government is yet to provide a gallon of water to Ogoni people, talkmore of commencing the proper implementation of the UNEP Report.
It is almost 30months after the flag off, nothing is happening other than empty talks. Election is around the corner, Ogoni cleanup will be a veritable campaign tool for 2019 elections. I won’t be surprised if things start happening in Ogoni between now and January 2019.
But remember 23years ago, several Ogoni people were sacrificed for this cause.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
(By Kingsly Chindah, MFR)-
May the labours of our Heros past never be in vain. Today in 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni leaders were unconscionably and devilishly executed against due process and without an opportunity of an appeal. Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine. They became environmental martyrs today 23 years ago.
What has become of the struggle they laid their lives for. Our environment is still devastated with several unfulfilled promises by the state and its apparatus. Our environment, our lives have been reduced to a political tool. Again promises and change without a differeance: Movement without motion is going on now at Ogoni in the name of clean up cos they want our votes and/or voices. After 2019, we will be forgotten but be assured, we will not forget ourselves.
I believe in Ken Sarowiwa and the ideals of a safe and clean environment as an inalienable and fundamental right of man. You can kill the man but you can’t kill the idea. Ken stood and died for all minorities, the world over. He was a minority Rights Crusader.