Ogoni Swears in President and Inaugurates Self-Government
Ogoni President Goodluck Diigbo has been sworn in – the first elected leader following the Ogoni self-government declaration of August 2, 2102. Ogoni is one of Africa’s richest indigenous homelands, endowed with sweet crude oil and natural gas, among others.
The event was held on Sunday, January 4, 2015 at Ken Saro-Wiwa Peace and Freedom Center, Bori – the Ogoni Nation Capital in southern Nigeria.
In his inaugural address to thousands of Ogonis, Diigbo vowed to fully enforce the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Ogoni Bill of Rights – both of which give the control of natural resources to the people.
His government, under the auspices of the Ogoni Central Indigenous Authority, insists on joint review of the United Nations Environmental Assessment Report on Ogoniland, before implementation in order to comply with due process.
The report says it will take over 30 years to restore Ogoniland from petroleum pollution, but, the new president said, after three years of waiting, pollution has heightened and the report must be repaired.
Diigbo, a veteran journalist and long term activist is also an American citizen and a European resident in The Netherlands. He was the closest associate of the executed Ogoni leader, Late Saro-Wiwa. In his prison memoir, Saro-Wiwa described him as “quite a godsend,” crediting him with success of the Ogoni struggle against environmental devastation by oil companies. Saro-Wiwa was hanged to death alongside eight other Ogoni activists by Nigerian military dictator Abacha, while the new president has escaped several assassination attempts.
Diigbo adopted: “Agriculture and Homeland Security” as priorities of the Ogoni indigenous government.
Later in a phone interview with journalists, President Diigbo said: “Ogoni will be open to all – corporations and individuals for genuine investment, including Americans and Europeans, but, under strict environmental regulations and monitoring. We now have full control over our lands or natural resources, and it is our choice to decide how best to manage our affairs.
Many Nigerian tribes turned up to honor the inauguration ceremony, including Isoko, Edo, Yoruba and advocates of Oduduwa Nation, Igbo, Middle Belt groups, Tiv, Ijaws, Midwest, , and other southern ethnic nationalities. Several entertainment groups added colors to the ceremony.
From now on, the Ogoni Government speaks on behalf of the people of Ogoni, while the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) is abolished, and its affiliates turned into civil society organizations.