November 10 always comes with a feeling to all Ogoni sons and well-wishers of Nigeria. This, of 2020 comes with much melancholy than ever. The recent extrajudicial killings, and door to door haunting and arrest of Nigerian innocent youths by the nation’s military over demands for good governance and putting an end to the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), has cast a flashback on the military’s injustice and the impunity of the present so-called democratic rule of the nation. The actions of Nigerians and perhaps the international communities through protest on the street, the social media and mainstream media ushers in another phase of November 10, 1995.
Now and always, we must make sure the arc of moral tilts only towards justice at all cost for the sanity of the family of those killed and for those whose conscience was pricked to join in the struggle for justice. November 10 is for Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni sons.
By the time Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni patriots formed the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) in 1990, Nigeria had had 30 years of flag independence. The quest for self-determination among the various ethnic nationalities which had echoed in murmurs flared up to prominence. MOSOP and Saro-Wiwa must have reasoned that a nation becomes a nation only when weaker or minority groups are not made to carry the majority on their back in a menacingly choking manner.
For MOSOP, there couldn’t have been a more opportune time to question the degradation of the Ogoni environment, and to jolt the behemoth called Nigeria from its reverie, duplicity, and complicity in the suppression of ethnic minority rights. Saro-Wiwa, who was to later become the spearhead of the Ogoni struggle, must have hoped that since Ogoniland had become a metaphor for agony and repression of minority nationalities, common sense would have prevailed in finding a solution to the ethnic minority question. But that was not to be.
The Nigerian State was piqued by Saro-Wiwa’s affront and the “dangers” posed by the Ogoni struggle. In a most bizarre manner, the Ogoni struggle suffered reverses which led to the death of four prominent Ogoni sons. Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni leaders were docked for allegedly being privy to murder. And by the time the clowning called justice was over, Saro-Wiwa and eight others were face to face with the hangman’s noose.
In the next few days, memories of that act which saw the dimming of the Ogoni revolution will rekindle once again. The occasion is the first anniversary of the hanging of nine Ogoni activists. There are lessons to be learned from the struggle led by Saro-Wiwa. The issues that he raised provide a paradigm for solving the lingering crisis in Nigeria.
Saro-Wiwa’s death reminds us of our inadequacies as a nation; that between our action and inaction as a people, we have only succeeded in building division, and polluting the very air we breathe with hate and death. But it has also taught us to overcome the bogey that Nigerian, built on the twin plank of class and ethnic oppression is, an unquestionable monolith.
Other activists of the Ogoni land after Ken Saro-Wiwa live with a lingering cloud of guilt over their conscience as the bother of the activist Owens Wiwa puts it in a remembrance news article publication; “the unresolved historical injustice against ken and fellow Ogonis seems to suggest that the Ogoni arc of moral, if legal justice, is taking too long and appears to be bending away from justice”.
Though the austere statement is born out of sentiment, is about the feeling of the dead man wherever he might be to have a gaze at the handing over of the presidency from a Niger-Delta man, Goodluck Jonathan to a former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari. Former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Justice Ibrahim Auta, who presided over the Civil disturbance tribunal, (a military Kangaroo court) which sentenced Saro and eight other compatriots to death, as chief of the Abuja high court and gave a national award to late gen. Sani Abacha, who was the sitting head of states that saw to the end of the nine Ogoni Compatriots asking for their rights. Nigeria’s current president Muhammadu Buhari described former military ruler Sani Abacha whose family is being caught in the possession of looted funds regularly as a “good man” and appoint col. Hameed Ali, who served as a member of the Civil Disturbances Tribunal as an enlisted Military officer, as the comptroller general of Nigeria Customs.
All of these narratives are just clear evidence that Ken and his Cohorts are still far from the success of having justice for themselves, the Ogoni land, and the Nation at large.
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