Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has chastised the Ogoni people for sabotaging Senator Magnus Abe’s political career and Ledum Mitee’s hard journey to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
The governor pointed out that the defeats were caused by a lack of unity in Ogoniland, where governors, parliamentarians, and other officials seldom worked together.
Wike said this at the Birabi Memorial Grammar School in Bori town, Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, yesterday, during the 30th observance of Ogoni Day with the theme “Leaving no one behind.”
He wondered how many Ogoni leaders could legitimately protect Ogoni territory and fight environmental degradation and resource control concerns with the same zeal as their forefathers, such as late Ken Saro-Wiwa, without selling out.
He said: “People like Ken Saro-Wiwa and all of the people you’re celebrating on Ogoni Day, how many of you can today stand for what Ken (Saro-Wiwa) stood for; how many can today stand for the great Ogoni men who died for your struggle.”
In a statement issued by his media aide, Kelvin Ebiri, the governor expressed remorse for how certain Ogoni people had degraded the fight and instead utilized it to collect money from individuals who did not want the struggle’s aims to be realized.
He said: “You use Ogoni Day to make money. God will never forgive you. I will never be a party to make blood money. All of you, you’re here today for Ogoni Day, are you standing firm for Ogoni people? Are you standing firm for the spirit of those who died for you? Go and check your conscience. Ogoni people check your conscience.”
The governor said that he had never abandoned Rivers’ interests, but had bravely protected them, including filing the OML 11 action at the Supreme Court.
He said the issue may not be resolved before his term ends, but it may provide the people with the much-needed ownership rights to such resources.
Prof. Benjamin Okaba, chairman of the event and President of the Ijaw National Congress, said the country’s fundamental problem is the Nigerian government’s refusal to restore the derivation principle, which was abolished by Aguiyi Ironsi’s Decree NO.34 of May 1966, the subsequent Petroleum Decree 1966, and General Olusegun Obasanjo’s 1978 Land Use Act, widely regarded as the most obnoxious, draconian, and unjust piece of legislation on land and resource ownership.