TEARS OF A WAILING WAILER
Least in the imagination of any level-headed being is to fold ones hands amidst intense social conflict whence the wherewithal is within ones reach to call the shot. To a sane person, one who fights and eventually dies for a cause he or she deems just to the society, will naturally chaperone such, to the very end if there is any. Will ordinarily not turn turk such vital a cause for any flimsy reason. If it be in the off chance, worst comes to worst, whether the existing legal order be a military or civilian one, will travel the farthest mile to set in stone his or her works as mementoes.
Nineteen years after the gruesome and grovel execution of a great African leader, born on the 10th day of October; Kenule ‘Ken’ Beeson Saro Wiwa and eight others by the then paper tiger, Sani Abacha’s administration, what seemed a cause dying for the Ogoniland inhabitants and Nigerians have turned an ancestral curse to human lives with the continued and pernicious violence dished out by the government-supported oil companies operations in the Niger-Delta regions.
The sojourn of this great leader has continued to transport unendingly the highroads of history and it is beyond a shadow of doubt that he is referred to as a non-violent struggler. A prolific writer (SOZA BOY-his best known novel, written in Rotten English), an artist, journalist and a television producer of the long-running satirical T.V series’ Basi & Co, purported to be the most watched soap opera of that time. Also was he a onetime President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, and the President, though, initially, as the Spin Doctor, of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). He was consistently concerned about the treatment of the Ogoni people that led to his dismissal in 1973, from his post as regional Commissioner for Education in Rivers State cabinet, whilst vehemently advocating greater autonomy for the Ogoni people. He taught and chose to advocate for change using non-violent resistance techniques such as poetry, prose and peaceful protest that some ill-willed and intransigent politicians of our time have incoherently resolved not to change.
Tried and executed by hanging, after they were found guilty for the death of four Ogoni community leaders, Ken’s parting short has unfortunately knelled the bell of disaster, with the continued virulent activities of oil companies on the inhabitants of the Niger-Delta region when he said ; “…The company (Royal Dutch Shell Company) has indeed ducked this particular trial, but, it’s day will surely come and the lessons learnt here will prove useful for it, for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the company has waged in the Delta, will be called to question sooner than later…” What was said about 19 years ago has prophetically exacerbated itself with maximum negative impacts on the people of the region mostly subsistent farmers from the activities of Shell and other oil companies operating in the area. Juxtaposing the judicial proceedings that lead to their execution with present day decisions reached by our judges, on cases involving renowned social economical, and political thieves and murderers, a thin line of similarity is found that the judicial system that ought to be the hope of the common man, is now a tool easily manipulated by the elite and powerful in the society for their solipsistic gains. It continues to wriggle my heart at the state of the nation where rights are now termed wrong and wrong rights, one that has made many take solace in the words of Dele Giwa that; “Any evil done by a man to another man, will certainly be repaid either by man or God, if not now, but, certainly later.” For a nation like ours that have continued to depend on the revenue that accrue directly from the liquid black gold, could not succumb to the basic demands of MOSOP as enlisted in their 1990 Ogoni Bill Of Rights to wit; clean-up of oil spills, reduction of gas flaring, fair compensation of lost land income, resources et cetera, and a fair share of profits gained from oil drilled at their expense.
MOSOP has bewailed the failure of the Federal Government to take urgent steps to address the challenges identified by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland that points out how public health has being endangered in at least ten Ogoni communities where drinking water is contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons, benzene (a known carcinogen at 900 times above recommended levels) amongst other things. For sure, we are certain that the rate of strikes embarked on by union workers, like the proposed Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) strike to be embarked on, after a recent ultimatum given the Federal Government to recall their sacked members in Total, E & P, Agip and Mobil and other grumpy disagreements like the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that has suffered legislative postponement is only a fight that will continue time unending; an attestation that the tear-stained eyes of the wailing wailers, will only go dry the day unionists, activists, concerned citizens and individuals world over don’t keep silent over the damnable operations of oil companies in Nigeria and by extension the world
Written by IGIEMWIN DARLINGTON NOSAKHARE a.k.a RAS-D, a Mechanical Engineering student from the University of Benin.