Governor of Rivers State, Hon Chibuike Amaechi
By Ernest Chinwo
The man who declared August 2 as ‘Ogoni Autonomy Day’, Mr. Goodluck Diigbo, has chided the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, over his comments that the declaration of sovereignty amounted to treasonable felony.
Diigbo’s remark is coming on the heels of an advice by the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Service matters, Hon. Andrew Uchendu, to the people of Ogoniland in Rivers State that they needed to be careful of their utterances so that they would not destroy the legacy of their past leaders.
Uchendu was reacting to the recent declaration of ‘Ogoni Autonomy Day’ by Diigbo, whom he described as not properly interpreting the content of the Ogoni Bill of Rights.
A statement issued by Associate Editor, MOSOP Media, Tambari Deekor, said Diigbo was not happy with the statement credited to Amaechi that he (Diigbo) was committing treasonable felony by the declaration of Ogoni sovereignty.
Amaechi was said to have said: “On Ogoni autonomy, I wish them well. Ogoni autonomy is not achievable. The man (Diigbo) who declared Ogoni autonomy will run into the bush tomorrow morning. What Diigbo is doing is treasonable felony. You do not declare autonomy on the pages of newspapers and magazines or on radio and television.”
The statement quoted Diigbo as saying: “Issues pertaining to indigenous rights cannot be dabbled into by local or regional authorities that may be in conflict with indigenous rights, but rests with consultation with a nation state as Nigeria. We did not take Amaechi is ill-informed and trying to create security problems where they do not exist.
“I think Amaechi needs proper advice on international matters. It is also because of international instruments that citizens who want to live in organised society are able to aspire to self-government, freedom and to organise and subordinate their rights. You cannot pick and chose certain aspects of civilisation and corruptly opt for permittivity as you deem fit.”
But reacting to Diigbo’s declaration, Uchendu said he had a good relationship with past Ogoni leaders and that none of them, including the late Ken Saro-wiwa who presented the Ogoni Bill of Rights, ever talked about sovereignty for the people.
He recalled that the late Saro-wiwa wrote to him on December 1, 1994 when he (Uchendu) was in the Constituent Assembly about the plight and aspirations of the Ogoni people.
“There was no declaration of sovereignty. Saro-wiwa was more concerned with environmental degradation of Ogoni land and resource control,” he said.
He stressed that asking for autonomy would dilute the efforts of past leaders of Ogoniland, most of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives for the people.
According to Uchendu, “We are operating a federal structure, even if some of us are calling for true federalism to see that more powers devolve to the states. If the Diigbo is not cautioned, others may join to declare autonomy for their areas. This is will not be good for our nation.”
Meanwhile, the Provisional Council of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) has distanced itself from the purported declaration of autonomy by Diigbo.
In a statement jointly signed by Chairman of the council, Prof. Ben Naanen, and the Secretary, Dr. Meshach Karanwi, MOSOP said: “MOSOP has received with dismay the purported declaration of “Ogoni Autonomy Day” by Mr. Goodluck Diigbo.
He had earlier this year falsely claimed that the Ogoni people had voted for autonomy in a referendum. At no time did the Ogoni people take any decision to establish a sovereign nationhood.
“The Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR) is clear on the aspiration of Ogoni people in Nigeria. The Ogoni, according to OBR, want adequate representation in all the institutions of the Nigerian state as a matter of right. They want their economic, social and political rights to be protected in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A people aspiring to sovereignty cannot also be asking for representation at the same time.”