Monday, October 11, 2004

The Ogoni Bill of Rights

The Ogoni Bill of Rights

We, the people of Ogoni (Babbe, Gokana, Ken-Khana, Nyo-Khana, and Tai) numbering about 500,000, being a separate and distinck ethnic nationality with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, wish to draw the attention of the government and people of Nigeria to the undermentioned facts:

1: That the Ogoni people, before the advent of British colonialism, were not conquered or colnized by any other ethnic group in present day Nigeria.

2: That British colonization forced us into the administrative division of Opobo from 1908 to 1947.

3: That we protested against this forced union until the Ogoni Native Authority was created in 1947 and placed under the then Rivers Province

4: That in 1951 we were forcibly included in the Eastern Region of Nigeria, where we suffered utter neglect.

5: That we protested against the neglect by voting against the pary in power in the region in 1957, and against the forced union by testimony, before the Willink Commission of Inquirty into Minority Fears in 1958

6: That this protest led to the inclusion of our nationality in Rivers State in 1967, which state consists of several ethnic nationalities with differering cultures, languages and aspirations.

7: That oil was struck and produced in commercial quanitites on our land in 1958 at K. Dere (Bomu oilfield)

8:That oil has been minded on our land since 1958 to this day from the following oilfields (i) Boma (ii)Bodo West (iii)Tai (iv) Korokoro (v) Yorla (vi) Lubara Creek and (vii) Afam by Shell Petroleum Development Company (Nigeria) Ltd

9: That in over 30 years of oil mining, the Ogoni nationality have provided the Nigerian nation with a total revenue estimated at over forty billion naira, thirty billion dollars.

10: That in return for the above contribution, the Ogoni people have received NOTHING

11: That today the Ogoni people have:

(i) no representation whatsoever in ALL institutions of the Federal government of Nigeria

(ii) No pipe-borne water

(iii) No electriticy

(iv) No Job opportunities for the citizens in Federal, state, public or private sector companies

(v) No social economic project of the Federal Government

12: That the Ogoni languages of Gokana and Khana are underdeveloped and are about to disappear, whereas other Nigerian langauges are geing forced upon us.

13; That the ethnic politics of successive Federal and state governments are gradually pushing the Ogoni people to slavery and possible extinction.

14: That the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd does not emply Ogoni people at a meaningful or any level at all, in defiance of the Federal government's regulations

15: That the search for oil has caused severe land and food shortages inOgoni, one of the most densely populated areas of Africa (average 1,500 per square mile; national average 300 per sq mile)

16: That neglectful environmental pollution laws and sub standard inspection techniques of the Federal authories have led to the complete degradation of the Ogoni environment, turning our homeland into an ecological disaster.

17:That the Ogoni people lack education, health and other social facilities

18: That it is intolerable that one of the richest areas of Nigeria should wallow in abject poverty and destitution.

19: That successive Federal administrations have trampled on every minority right enshirned in the Nigerian consititution to the detriment of the Ogoni and have, by administrative structuring and other noxious acts transferred Ogoni wealth exclusively to other parts of the republic.

20: That the Ogoni people wish to manage their own affairs.

Now, therefore while reaffirming our wish to remain a part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we make demand up the Republic as follows:

That the Ogoni people be granted Political Autonomy to particiapate in the affairs of the Republic as a distinct and separate unit by whatever name called, provided that this autonomy guaranttees the following:

(a) political control of Ogoni affairs by Ogoni people

(b) the right to control and use of a fair proportion of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni Developoement

(c) adequate and direct representations as of right in all Nigereian national institutions

(d) the use and development of Ogoni languages in Ogoni territory

(e) the full development of cutlure

(f)the right to religious freedome

(g)the right to protect the Ogoni environment and ecology from further degradation

We make the above demand in the knowledge that it does not deny any other ethnic group in the Nigerian Federation their rights and that it coan only be conducive to peace, justice and fairplay and hence stabilty and progress in the Nigerian nation.

We mke the above demand in the belief that, as Obafemi Awolowo has written: in a true Federation, each ethnic group no matter how small, is entitled to the same treatment as any other ethnic group, no matter how large.

We demand thiese rights as equal members of the Nigerian Federation who contribute and have contributed to the growth of the Federation and have a right to expect full returns from that Federation.

Adopted by general acclaim of the Ogoni people on the 26th day of August, 1990 at Boro Rivers State.


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