Urhobo Historical Society

November-December, 1999

Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1999 15:27:56 EST
From: PhoneNews@aol.com
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

A Statement From:



The yuletide is here once again and people the world over are sending messages of felicitation and gifts to loved ones and colleagues. This action is believed to be a re-enactment of the Biblical mystery birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. When Angels and other heavenly hosts, on that cold winterâ€s night joyously proclaimed to the world, the great tidings of the presence of Jesus the Christ among men, singing "glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." This year being the end of a decade, century and millennium, the Yuletide will be special as the whole world is on tenterhooks, feverishly planning one massive party to usher in the Year 2000 -- the beginning of a new Millennium.

To the peoples of the Niger Delta States of Nigeria, the story is different and has been so since the black gold, Oil, became the mainstay of the economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Whereas Oil has been a blessing to the Kuwaitis, Saudis, Libyans and many other oil-producing nations of the world, it has been a curse or the humble, peace-loving peoples of the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Their lot has been a catalogue of woes: acid rain, oil spillage, poverty, diseases, illiteracy, unemployment, political marginalisation, rape of women, burning down of villages, pollution of land and water, and genocide to mention just a few. For these impoverished peoples this yuletide will not be any better than last year's. Many of them will not know it is Christmas or that the New Year is the beginning of a new millennium. Most of them will spend the bitter winter months in wet mosquitoes infested swamps and creeks.

Once again being hounded as game by troops of the Nigerian Army on the orders of their Commander-in-Chief. What with recent threat of "fire and brimstone" for the people of the area by the police, army and other security agencies? Reports reaching us has revealed that the Federal government even though a democratically elected one, is not willing to abandon the path of military "pacification," a euphemism for military occupation and destruction of the Niger Delta area. That the government of Chief Obasanjo could through the Police describe legitimate groups representing Niger Delta peoples such as Ijaw Youth Council and MOSOP as "enemy forces" is very worrying and condemnable. This is a clear reminder of the mind-set of the evil Abacha junta just before it started the policy of "pacification of Ogoniland" and the subsequent "wasting" of prominent people from that area. We also note that people from the other parts of the federation like Zamfara State, who have actually voted to operate laws outside the constitution of Nigeria are being treated with kid-gloves because they are from the Northern part of the country while the law abiding people of the Niger Delta are continually visited with violent repression to their peaceful and legitimate demands.

This is in spite of persistent entreaties for a peaceful settlement of  the problems of the area by genuine Leaders of the affected communities, Environmental Protection organisations, Pro-democracy Activists, Minorities Rights Activists and other peace-loving groups both within and outside Nigeria. What the people want is a fair share of the proceeds of the product of their land, oil, and a well-protected and economically developed environment.

Last Christmas day, 25 December 1998, we alerted the world through our "NO BLOOD FOR OIL" press release, about the imminent military operation planned for the oil-rich, Niger Delta region of Nigeria by the Nigerian Military junta of General Abdulsalami Abubakar. We revealed then that well-armed foreign mercenaries supplied and equipped with helicopter gunboats and other military hardware by a consortium of oil companies including Shell, Mobil, Texaco, Exxon and Chevron would back the invaders. Our entreaties to the junta to abandon the military option for dialogue with the genuine leaders of the people to find a way to avert the unnecessary spillage of human blood for the sake of oil, apparently fell on deaf ears. The junta laid siege to the Niger Delta with between 15,000 and 20,000 soldiers with a proviso for round-the-clock reinforcement. Over 1000 Ijaw youths were killed, soldiers and members of the newly created military terror unit, the Naval Special Security Task Force during that encounter, hounded the Ijaws like game and a state of emergency was imposed on Bayelsa State. The situation on the ground now is still the same. The Obasanjo government is ready to waste innocent blood just to protect foreign multinational interest. We have not forgotten that the genesis of most of our suffering today is the Land Use Decree, which Obasanjo himself signed into law in Nigeria during his military presidency. We are hopping that as a democratically elected president, he would abide by civilise ethics of equity and good conscience, to deal with the Niger delta peoples.

Please President Obasanjo, we have no more blood to spill for oil. We are law-abiding people but we demand fair and equal treatment. We demand to be indemnified for the devastation of our land, waters, air and forests. We demand equal citizenship with other Nigerians. We demand a revenue allocation formula based on the derivative principles.

We are hereby calling on our people and other Nigerians and the international community to impress it on the Nigerian government to stop this intended military operation such that the Defence Minister, General Theophilus Danjuma has been briefing officers of the Nigerian Army at Enugu about. All such operations as in the past are sure to result in spilling more innocent blood for oil. We are calling on the international community to warn their nationals against taking part in any military operation against the people of the Niger-delta and calling on Nigerian soldiers to remember that we are all Nigerians and that
their bullets and bombs are not supposed to be for fellow Nigerians.

Chief Obasanjo must hold his goons parading as the Nigerian army in check, send the foreign mercenaries home and negotiate with the people's leaders on the ground, not collaborators and political jobbers, to determine what exactly the people of the Niger delta region want, to ameliorate their endless suffering. The double speech strategy of talking to so-called elected representatives of the people of discredited traditional rulers who in the not too distant past were all too willing to sell their people would not help matters at all. Only a dialogue with the genuine leaders of the people would do.

We join others in calling on the oil companies to vacate the Niger-delta immediately until such a time that they are ready to meet the minimum internationally accepted standards of oil production as practised in America, Europe and the United Kingdom. We are also calling on our people and Nigerians in general to resist the current insensitivity to their feelings and lives from the federal government especially those from Generals T. Y. Danjuma, the Minister of Defence and Victor Malu, the Chief of Army Staff.

This military siege on the Ijaws in particular and the Niger delta at large is confirmation that the Obasanjo government does not care about the well being of the people of the region. It is a fair comment to say that the government only wants the oil from the area at all cost even if it means poisoning and extermination of all human beings in the area, to get unrestricted access to the oil. It is paradoxical that Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo, who claims to "...appreciate the feelings of the people in the area over their sad condition because they have suffered neglect and injustice for too long..." would choose the use of unreasonable military force to meet the peaceful protests of a people who have been ignored and treated as second class citizens as if they are inconsequential in Nigeria's national equation. Perhaps the government needs to remember that all protestation in the Niger Delta has culminated from government refusal to dialogue with them in the first Place.

We hereby call on the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to withdraw the army of occupation from the Niger Delta forthwith and commence discussion with the genuine leaders of the people immediately. What the people want is a fair share of the proceeds of the product of their land, oil, and a well-protected and economically developed environment. We hope the President want that as well.


It is four years today since Nigeria and in particular Ogoniland lost nine of its most illustrious and valiant sons to the brutal antics of a bloodthirsty, ignorant and deranged stone-age demagogue, Sani Abacha and the scheming but faceless hegemonists behind him. Ogoni people under the informed leadership of MOSOP having elected to break the shackles placed on them by successive Northern dominated Federal Governments in Nigeria, who operates at the behest of the OIL COMPANIES like shell, deserve to be congratulated. Even though today is the fourth anniversary of the judicial murders of the "Ogoni 9" we should be celebrating their lives as martyrs of our emancipation. The time has come for all of you, valiant people of all the Kingdoms of Ogoniland to rededicate yourselves to the cause of fighting for the survival of your people in a clean and peaceful environment. Don't ever forget the OGONI BILL OF RIGHTS - the manifesto for a non-violent, peaceful change of the underdeveloped, impoverished and un-represented OGONI people and land, to a prosperous, peaceful and happy one. Use today to remember the thousands of people that refused to be cowed into submission to the tyranny of the oppressor but instead laid down their lives that the OGONIS may survive and be free. Let us not forget that the Chiefs, the "OGONI 4," were also victims of Sani Abachaâ's tyranny having been murdered by the Army of Occupation led by Colonel Paul Okuntimo on the orders of a ruthless, blood thirsty and insensitive Federal government as a mere excuse to judicially murder other eminent Ogonis, the "OGONI 9," including the irrepressible, Visionary, lion hearted Ken Saro-Wiwa. Let the word go forth, that today, the Ogonis can now sing and dance to their own freedom songs in their own land with a new resolve to unite and fight for their survival and protection of their environment. We the entire members of the SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT OF THE SOUTHERN MINORITIES OF NIGERIA, SMSMN, wishes to use this occasion to send our hearty congratulations to all OGONI People and in particular the leadership of the Movement for the Survival of OGONI People (MOSOP), for the singular reason of having been able to imprint on the conscience of the world the travail and struggle of the oppressed OGONI People and by extension, the unbearable suffering of the entire Niger Delta peoples. This is not a mean feat by any standards but it is only the beginning. The real struggle for total liberation is in the consolidation of the gains that you have made so far and pursuing the ultimate objective, the realisation of the OGONI BILL OF RIGHTS. That is why the recent activities of some MOSOP members in some overseas units must be put into proper perspective as the actions of battle weary compatriots, renegades and charlatans that must be ignored for sanity's sake. We wish to put on record that we are with you every inch of the way. Through your sorrows and triumphs, we are with you shoulder to shoulder as people who share the same aspiration for the whole of the Niger Delta and indeed for all of Nigeria. Of a clean environment, rapid and sustained economic development, a stable and progressive polity, and a bright and happy future for our children.

When the Kangaroo Special Military Tribunal, headed by Justice Ibrahim Auta, of which General Abdulsalami Abubakar was a member, condemned Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other OGONI environmentalists to undeserved death, Ken told them â€I am a man of ideas. You can kill the man but not his ideas...†Just before he was murdered in cold blood, he left us these immortal words, â€Lord take my soul but the struggle continuesâ€. This is the legacy that Ken Saro-Wiwa bequeathed to us - his ideas for a free and egalitarian society and a struggle to achieve that society. This bequest was to all who would fight against tyranny, protect the environment and defend human rights. It was to humanity at large. If you believe in this legacy or you consider your self one of the inheritors of this legacy, now is the time to stand up and be counted. The struggle has just begun. Lend your voices to the protection and survival of the endangered nationalities of the Southern Minorities States, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, Edo and Rivers States of Nigeria, before it is too late.

As the representatives of our people, our minimum demands remains, a Sovereign National Conference of all nationalities to discuss and fashion out a genuine Peoples†Federal Republic of Nigeria based on equality of all without regard to gender, creed, political philosophy or ethnicity. We want a nation where power and wealth are equitably distributed. A crime free society where our children-our future, can learn and grow in peace and liberty. We want a society where government is only by the consent of the governed to whom it must be accountable. And a society in which ignorance, poverty and disease are banished forever.

The struggle continues, victory is certain.

Ikhiromonagbe Philip Ilenbarenemen
Acting President

CC: Global Secretariat, Southern Minorities Front of Nigeria (SoMiFoN) Pontiac, MI, U. S. A.
Contacts: Frank Bassey Tel/Fax 0171 7034694, Philip Tel 0171 3751919 Fax
01712476363, Nosa Tel/Fax 0181 9083466, Edemma Tel/Fax 01717369567