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The Port Harcourt Politics Meetup Group Monthly Meetup
In solidarity with the Ogoni people of Rivers State, who are battling with the state to safe their farmlands from seizure for a military facility and unpopular agric estate, we devote our June meeting; The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People has branded the reported threats by the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi against genuine opposition by the Ogoni people to large scale land grabbing in Ogoni as unfortunate. At a meeting with selected Ogoni chiefs and elites held at Government House, Port Harcourt on Sunday, June 26, 2011, Governor Amaechi was reported to have threatened stoppage of development projects in Ogoni because of alleged antagonism to policies of his government. He was further said to have particularly marked Gokana and Khana local government areas for this punitive resolve. MOSOP is concerned that resort to demonstrable coercive approach was allowed to mar such an opportunity to allay the fears of the people and resolve whatever differences by advancing appealing and superior reasons to that of our people. We are also touched that whilst democracy the world over has opened opportunities for more say by the people on issues affecting them, and consultation replaced imposition, we are indeed drawn aback by such bully tendency. As far as the Ogoni position is concerned, it has been influenced by genuine and informed considerations and no less superior argument or intimidation can sway it otherwise. The Ogoni people at Bori on Sunday, June 19 declared their position and on the Bori declaration we stand. However, the current approach is reminiscent of what we experienced during the administration of Dr. Odili in the state. Speaking through a Rivers State representative on the board of the NDDC, Shedrack Akalokwu, government threatened Ogoni of denial of NDDC benefits because it has refused Shell’s re-entry to start oil production. As then Speaker of the state’s legislature, Amaechi was a major part of that regime. Information available to MOSOP shows that the current anger against Ogoni is also predicated on the same none oil extraction in the region and not any masked so-called opposition to policies. The idea of a military barracks in Ogoni now disguised as industrial farming was calculated to enhance the oil mining interest. Nevertheless, the response of the state government is undemocratic and betrayed sinister agenda, which has no doubt vindicated MOSOP. We wish to reiterate the point that the proposed banana plantation is not in the interest of our people. Therefore, Ogoni will resist every attempt to intimidate us into sacrificing our survival on the court of so-called development projects. Development is a right and not benevolence and it is protected by domestic and international instruments. We would advice therefore, that this right should not be violated. It is our position that the said industrial farming would only benefit the state government and the Mexican investor. The point that what is at stake is profit, chemicals and seedlings that would induce high yield would be employed. These chemicals would end up polluting the local environment and fuel climate change as it has been observed in other areas. Also, because the seedlings had been scientifically altered to meet the profit objective of the partners, they would be unsuitable to environments not chemically induced. Similarly, the trumpeted claim that the banana farm would generate massive employment for our people is false. So long as the project would be mechanized; less number of persons would be engaged. The only time more hands may be required, would be the period of harvest, which would be short. Ogoni cannot thus afford to allow its economy built around banana when economies driven by this crop is faring miserably. One of such economies is Mexico that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world with the attendant results that her people have taken to hard drugs while others have and or, are illegally migrating to USA in their numbers for employment. In fact, Uganda with banana as its major crop survives on foreign aid and not banana. We passionately therefore call on the Ogoni people not to compromise on this matter as our survival is at stake. The spirit of Ogoni would no doubt frown at any Ogoni person who betrays our collective interest. While more soldiers supported with military tanks are deployed to Ogoni communities and intimidating our people, destroy crops and violate the rights of local farmers including arbitrary detention in the name of surveys, we have already lost three persons at Zor-Sogho. Any government worth its name would protect and defend her citizens rather than threaten them or mastermind their undo. Akanimo Sampson Organiser

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