Ogoni Deserves Rivers Ministerial Slot

BuhariBlackJungleCap_0Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness. -Napoleon Hill
When President Buhari as Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) visited Rivers State and indeed Ogoni land in January earlier in the year as he embarked on his campaigns, he was well received by the people of Ogoni. It was a reception like none other held for him by any group in the entire South South region. Not even the Ikwerres, the ethnic group of the then serving Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, accorded him such a remarkable audience. The Ogoni people embraced Candidate Buhari and stood with him when it mattered most.
In fact, in demonstration of our people’s commitment and appreciation of his candidacy, Candidate Buhari was presented with ‘Gekpe’, the golden sword, a symbol of honour by the traditional leader of the land, HRH King Giniwa. An honour that had never been done to any Nigerian leader before him.
For the people of Ogoni, Muhammadu Buhari’s signalled a new vista of opportunities. It was truly a time for change of our fortune and that of the generality of Nigerians. It signalled the hope of better engagement with our people and most importantly the assurance of resolving years of marginalisation, victimisation and deliberate impoverishment of our people, given his staunch stance against corruption and indisputable personal integrity, which were what endeared him to Nigerians.
Even the then Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, during that visit acknowledged for the first time, quite belatedly and perhaps for political convenience, that despite being the second most populous ethnic nationality in the State, our people, the Ogoni people, had suffered a lot in terms of environmental degradation and other challenges. But he spoke an inconvenient truth. One which he had chosen to be silent about for the greater part of his 8 year term as Governor of the State.
No one could restrain our joy, when the Presidential Candidate himself, Muhammadu Buhari said, “your environment has been sentenced to death, much is being taken from Ogoniland but just little is being brought back in return.” It was the most sincere and poignant comment of any Nigerian leader since the existence of the country on the issue of the survival of Ogoni people. That statement, indeed, meant to us the beginning of the liberation of our people.
It would be a painstaking effort to recount the serial injustices meted to us by the Nigerian Government. The highpoint of which was the killing of our Son, literary icon, rights activist and Justice crusader, Ken Saro-Wiwa, by the Nigerian State.
The people of Ogoni bore the burden of Nigeria’s atrocious past. We have sacrificed for Nigeria’s continued existence and deserve national prominence especially in the current President Buhari led Federal government.
The argument that former Governor Amaechi sacrificed so much for President Buhari defeats the idea of democracy. It couldn’t have been a personal effort. If it were, then it meant that he alone without Rivers people supported President Buhari. So where does that place the people of Ogoni? Besides, do the alleged funds spent by Governor Amaechi on the Presidential election belong to him or our people? So no matter which argument is marshaled, people, not just an individual, must be rewarded. If Governor Amaechi is singled out for reward, on what basis is he being rewarded since he clearly didn’t mobilise the votes from Rivers for the President given the outcome of the elections and judgments of election Tribunals delivered so far?
Ogoni visibly stood for President Buhari when others shied from such identification. Truth be told, if the election results didn’t reflect the acceptance of Candidate Buhari by our people, it was on account of the deliberate mischief of the State APC during the Governorship Primaries, one that had former Governor Amaechi directly involved and responsible for. It was a reaction that no one could stop. However, we believe that the recurrent dubious antics against our people especially as experienced during that Governorship Primaries of our great Party, the APC, would end by the demonstration of sincerity towards our people. Ogoni deserves to be rewarded and this is a time for a new engagement with our people.
We boast of eminent Sons and Daughters, very qualified, competent and non – controversial to work directly with the President and add value to his work. There’s also the argument that since the current Governor is Ikwerre, should the only ministerial slot for Rivers also go to former Governor Amaechi, another Ikwerre? Would that be fair to Rivers people and the Ogonis in particular?
We appeal to him to look at us and choose from among them. President Buhari has an auspicious moment to do justice to our people.

Dormene Dumnaata writes from Bori, Ogoni.
(Rivers Loot Must Return Group)
18th October, 2015.

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