*Seek FG Intervention in the Issues Affecting Ogoni Land
The Ogoni ethnic nationality in Rivers State has marked the 28th memorial anniversary of the late fiery renowned environmentalist and play wright, Mr. Ken Saro Wiwa and other martyrs.
The ethnic nationality also used the occasion to seek Federal Government intervention in the myriads of challenges confronting Ogoni land over the years.
The celebration took place amidst pomp and pageantry at the 81 Division Officers Mess Onikan Lagos under the auspices of the Ogoni Welfare Association (OWA) Lagos branch recently.
The colourful event held beside the breezy waterfront had in attendance notable Ogoni sons and daughters from all walks of life with cultural displays, music, rendering of national anthem and much more.
Chairmen from the four Local Government Areas that constitute Ogoni Kingdom in Rivers State were honoured with awards. They include Dr. Bariere Thomas, Khana Local Government Area; Hon. Confidence Dekor, Gokana Local Government Area; Hon. Mbakponee Okpe, Tai Local Government Area; and Hon. Obarilomate Ollor – Eleme Local Government Area.
The Chairman of OWA, Comrade ThankGod Meekor in his opening remarks, reiterated the association commitment not only to the welfare of indigenes in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos but with a strong voice in matters affecting people of Ogoni Kingdom across the state.
Meekor stated that the hallmark of the day’s event was aimed to be an interactive session where people from Ogoni land should ask thought provoking questions as to what the association has been doing positively or negatively.
Highlighting some of the achievements under his leadership, he noted that OWA is the only Ogoni socio-cultural group that has its own built secretariat outside Ogoni land even as he added that no Ogoni extraction has a building anywhere outside Ogoni Kingdom.
The OWA President disclosed that the edifice was named after the iconic Ken Saro Wiwa adding that the building has over 500 sitting capacity hall, multiple offices, lobby, kitchen, conveniences, and a parking lot.
He affirmed that youths from Ogoni land have been encouraged and empowered through the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme pointing out that the deployment of young Ogoni indigenes to Lagos State are properly taking care of.
Continuing, he said: “Also, on a yearly basis, we encourage the deployment of young Ogoni graduates to Lagos for their National Youth Service (NYSC), so as to expose them to the dynamics and multiple opportunities here in Lagos. We are proud to note that this has been a very rewarding programme in sustaining our numerical and qualitative strength in Lagos State.
“We do not only encourage them to come, we also provide accommodation, help in job placement, organise seminars to properly and effectively integrate them into the system. We can attest to the fact that some of our very best in several fields of endeavours have been trained and groomed here”.
He called on the women wing to join hands and promote the socio-cultural group in Lagos as part of efforts to add value to the growth of OWA
While commending the women wing, he affirmed that going forward, “we want to use today’s event to forge a greater collaboration between our leaders at all levels, MOSOP, OWA/GOWA as well as other Ogoni socio-cultural organisations towards creating an Ogoni we will all be proud of”.
According to him, considering the huge sacrifice our past leaders for whom we are gathered here to commemorate have paid for our struggle, and importantly that a lot still needs to be done in our quest to have an Ogoni that will not only assume it proper and dominant place in Rivers State but also will have a strong voice on national issues,
Meekor called on the Rivers State Government to step up and explore the potentials and assets in the state adding that the pollution of Ogoni land needs to be addressed.
Also speaking, a member of OWA Lagos, Pastor Deele appreciated God’s intervention for a successful hosting of the 2023 anniversary, adding that the programme is symbolic to the rights of Ogoni people.
He called on the Federal Government to do the needful by providing lasting solutions to the myriads of challenges confronting Ogoni land over the years.