By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Are you aware that on Friday 29th January, 2021, Femi Adesina, the spokesman for President Buhari raised an alarm of an alleged smear campaign against the President to portray him as pandering to ethnic primordial tendencies, a campaign that is scheduled to be launched anytime soon through editorials and purported special investigative stories to be published in online newspapers, only to put the country at the edge? According to the warning, do you know that the publication will also refer Nigerians to a 58-page document, which chronicles purported atrocities of the ethnic group in the South since 2017, all of which it claims the Presidency has turned blind eyes to? Do you know that we must be counted now on the column of peace rather than yielding to the echoes of violence chorused by these power-seeking fellows? Do you know that on Thursday 28th January, 2021, while meeting with the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), led by Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, President Buhari, restated his even-handedness on the issues of ethnicity and religion? He asserted: “The Federal Government under my leadership does not, and will not, allow religious prejudice or partisanship to influence any of its decisions and policies. It is my solemn decision to be fair and just to all segments of society.”
Are you aware that all religions and cultures subscribe to the existence of a common creator? Do you know that everything in nature suggests pluralism and diversity in religions, colour, sex, race and language? Do you know that this is the vortex of the Abu Dhabi Declaration? What is this declaration? Come along. Are you aware of the Abu Dhabi declaration, the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together? Do you know that on 4th February, 2021, the first International Day of Human Fraternity as approved by the General Assembly of United Nations on 21st December, 2020, will be celebrated to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Human Fraternity Document in Abu Dhabi by His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence Prof. Ahmad At-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ash-Sharif in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and upon it the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity has been established? According to Francis and Tayeb, do you know that the document is to “declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard”? Do you know that they called on world leaders, including Nigerian leaders “to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing”? Do you know that they asked leaders and would-be influencers “to rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere”? The voices of Pope Francis and Tayep cut in: “Terrorism is deplorable and threatens the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the South, and disseminates panic, terror and pessimism, but this is not due to religion, even when terrorists instrumentalize it. It is due, rather, to an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride.”
Are you aware that President Buhari on Wednesday 27th January, 2021 met with the newly appointed Service Chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja with a directive that they should rise up to the nation’s current security challenges? According to a statement by the Media Adviser to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, President Buhari charged them thus: “We’re in a state of emergency. Be patriotic, serve the country well, as your loyalty is to the country…I also assure you that whatever I can do as Commander-in-Chief will be done, so that the people will appreciate your efforts. You know the stage we were in 2015, you know the stage we are now, and the undertakings we made. We promised to secure the country, revive the economy, and fight corruption. None has been easy, but we have certainly made progress.”
Have you read “King Solomon’s Mines” by Rider Haggard? Do you know that Henry Curtis, while in total darkness with others, shouted to Captain John Good: “Strike a light to show me where you are”? Do you know that this is the time that each of us, like Captain John Good, has to demonstrate to Nigeria we stand on the issue of security? Do you wonder why Governors Makinde of Oyo State and Akeredolu of Ondo State sprinted to the President on their takes on the security breaches in their jurisdictions? You care to know? Do you know that their expeditions were to forestall a possible read of malfeasance to them, a situation that could call for declaring State of Emergency in those States? Do you know what it takes to be in ‘state of emergency’ in Nigeria according to the Constitution, (1999 as amended)? Have you monitored the trajectory of the State of Emergency in Nigeria? Are you aware that the history of State of Emergency in Nigerian politics began in 1962 when alleged irregularities in the country’s first real census led to a crisis in the Action Group (AG)-controlled Western Nigeria? Can you recall that on 1st October, Prime Minister Balewa in a nation-wide broadcast told the nation that his government had been aware for some time of violent intentions of certain politicians to forcefully overthrow the legitimate government in Nigeria, and that they had been undergoing military training abroad? Do you know that on 26th October, 1962, the ban on public meetings and processions was extended to cover the whole of Western Nigeria? Do you know that on 2nd November, 1962, Chief Awolowo was formally charged with 26 others (including Anthony Enahoro, Sam Ikoku, Ayo Adebanjo, Lateef Jakande, Alfred Rewane, J.S. Tarka, Josiah Olawoyin, Dr. Oladipo Maja, Bisi Onabanjo, James Aluko, etc) with conspiring to overthrow the Federal Government by force?
Do you know that the next state of emergency was declared by President Olusegun Obasanjo on 18th May, 2004? . Citing Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution, do you know that the President imposed a state of emergency on Plateau State, suspending the elected Governor Joshua Dariye and the State House of Assembly in the process as he accused the governor of failing to act to end a cycle of bloodletting violence between the Plateau State’s Muslim and Christian communities that claimed over 2,000 lives since September 2001? Can you recall that 19th October, 2006, President Olusegun Obasanjo declared a State of Emergency in Ekiti State and suspended the Governor, Deputy Governor and House of Assembly of the State and appointed Colonel Tunji Olurin, (retired), a non-indigene, as “Sole Administrator” on Ekiti State as the State of Emergency was ratified by the National Assembly on 26th October, 2006? Can you recall that President Goodluck Jonathan also declared a State of Emergency in some Local Governments in Borno and Plateau States in 2011 before full declaration in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States? Do you know that these are precedents that the Governors were trying to avoid in their respective States? Are you aware that Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution provides for the imposition of a state of emergency in the country or any part of it? Section 305(1) cuts in:
“Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the President may by instrument published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the Federation or any part thereof.
(2) The President shall immediately after the publication, transmit copies of the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation containing the proclamation including the details of the emergency to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, each of whom shall forthwith convene or arrange for a meeting of the House of which he is President or Speaker, as the case may be, to consider the situation and decide whether or not to pass a resolution approving the Proclamation.
(3) The President shall have power to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency only when:
(a) the Federation is at war;
(b) the Federation is in imminent danger of invasion or involvement in a state of war;
(c) there is actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof to such extent as to require extraordinary measures to restore peace and security;
(d) there is a clear and present danger of an actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof requiring extraordinary measures to avert such danger;
(e) there is an occurrence or imminent danger, or the occurrence of any disaster or natural calamity, affecting the community or a section of the community in the Federation;
(f) there is any other public danger which clearly constitutes a threat to the existence of the Federation; or
(g) the President receives a request to do so in accordance with the provisions of subsection (4) of this section.
(4) The Governor of a state may, with the sanction of a resolution supported by two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly, request the President to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the state when there is in existence within the state any of the situations specified in subsection (3) (c), (d) and (e) of this section and such situation does not extend beyond the boundaries of the state.
(5) The President shall not issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in any case to which the provisions of subsection (4) of this section apply unless the governor of the state fails within a reasonable time to make a request to the President to issue such Proclamation.
(6) A Proclamation issued by the President under this section shall cease to have effect:
(a) if it is revoked by the President by instrument published in the Official Gazette of the government of the federation;
(b) if it affects the Federation or any part thereof and within two days when the National Assembly is in session, or within 10 days when the National Assembly is not in session, after its publication, there is no resolution supported by two-thirds majority of all the members of each House of the National Assembly approving the Proclamation;
(c) after a period of six months has elapsed since it has been in force:
Provided that the National Assembly may, before the expiration of the period of six months aforesaid, extend the period for the Proclamation of the state of emergency to remain in force from time to time for a further period of six months by resolution passed in like manner; or
(d) at any time after the approval referred to in paragraph (b) or the extension referred to in paragraph (c) of this subsection, when each House of the National Assembly revokes the Proclamation by a simple majority of all the members of each House.
As lovers of democratic rule, do you know that this is the time to lower the flag of war and violence and raise the banner of peace? The voice of President Lyndon Johnson of the United States cuts in: “The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure..”
Do you know that the detractors of the regime are making use of international agencies to denigrate all achievements made so far? Have you heard the news? Did you hear that on Thursday 28th January, 2021, Nigeria was declared the second most corrupt country in W/Africa with Guinea-Bissau the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the region? Do you know that the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020 report published by Transparency International indicates that Nigeria occupies the 149th position out of the 180 countries surveyed as well scored 25 out of 100 points? Do you know that this is the poorest ranking in decades as Nigeria ranked: 2011: 143, 2012: 139, 2013: 144, 2014: 136, 2015: 136, 2016: 136, 2017: 148, 2018: 144, 2019: 146 and 2020: 149? Do you know that the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is an annual survey report published by Berlin-based Transparency International since 1995 which ranks countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys? With the current ranking, do you know that Nigeria is two steps worse off than she was in 2018 when she scored 27 points to place 144th out of 180 countries? Do you know that only 12 countries are perceived to be more corrupt than Nigeria in the whole of Africa which include: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Eritrea, Burundi, Congo, Guinea Bissau, and South Sudan? Do you know that Somalia and South Sudan remain the most corrupt nations on earth, according to the CPI 2020 ranking while Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Germany, Sweden Switzerland, Norway, The Netherlands and Luxembourg are the least corrupt countries in the world? The voice of Nigeria on the report cuts in:
“We are also not unaware of the characters behind the TI in Nigeria whose opposition to the Buhari administration is not hidden. We have repeatedly challenged TI to provide indices and statistics of its own to justify its sensational and baseless rating on Nigeria and the fight against corruption. We expect them to come clean and desist from further rehashing of old tales. A Naira denominated review that excludes recoveries in Dollars, Pounds, Euro shows that a sum of N1.2tn was recovered by EFCC between 2009 — 2019. N939bn of that total was recovered between 2015 – 2019 with less than N300bn recovered in the first six years. Additionally, preventative instruments deployed by this administration such as Treasury Single Account, Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System coverage expansion and the removal of 54,000 ghost workers from federal civil service saving us N200bn annually serve as evidence that perception is not reality.”
Do you know that we may do well in Corruption Perception Index if the National Assembly makes good its promise to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill that had been long delayed? Do you know that the engagement of pre-shipment inspection agents for non-oil exports is a step to rise on the Corruption Perception Index? How can somebody claim that he is exporting timber only to discover that he is exporting marijuana, only using timber as a veneer? Are you aware that on Wednesday 27th January, 2021, it was announced that Nigeria has appointed pre-shipment inspection agents (PIAs) and monitoring and evaluation agents (MEAs) for non-oil exports? According to a circular published by the Central Bank of Nigeria, do you know that three pre-shipment inspection agents and two monitoring and evaluation agents were appointed? Do you know that each of the pre-shipment inspection agents has been assigned to cover two geo-political zones? Do you know that Anglia International Sevices Limited was assigned to the north-west and north-central; Neroli Technologies Limited to cover south-west and south-south and Gojopal Nigeria Limited to cover south-east and north-east? Do you know that the appointed MEAs are Poops Integrated Services Limited for the north-east, north-west, and north-central, and Ace Global Depository Nigeria Limited for the south-east, south-west and south-south and the appointment has been effective from 15th January, 2021? Do you know that Nigerian non-oil exporters will now be forced to come cleaner in their international transactions, thus improving our Corruption Perception Index? Do you know that we need to amend some of the laws guiding businesses in Nigeria and the time to do it is now if only we care about our international image? You care to know more about that? Come along, please.
In another development, do you know that tears of joy are now being shed in the homes of some of the Chibok girls? Why? Can you recall that in 2014, militants stormed a boarding school in the Nigerian village of Chibok and kidnapped 276 girls, an incident which gained widespread attention and sparked an international campaign advocating for their release with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls? Can you recall that dozens of girls escaped almost immediately after the mass abduction and another girl was found in May 2016 when she wandered out of a Nigerian forest asking for help, according to witnesses? Can you recall again that Boko Haram released 21 girls to the Nigerian government after negotiations in 2016? Do you remember that 82 more girls were freed in a prisoner swap on Sunday, 7th May, 2017 when five Boko Haram commanders were released in exchange for the freedom of 82 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by the extremist group? Do you know that since then, nothing had been heard of the 112 young women remaining in custody? Hurray! Have you heard the news? Do you know that on Friday 29th January, 2021, it was reported that several remaining missing Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram nearly seven years ago have finally escaped from their captors as a father of one of the girls told CNN? According to the report, do you know that Halima Ali Maiyanga, one of more than 100 young women still missing, called her father to say she and others had managed to flee Boko Haram militants on Thursday 28th January, 2021? Do you know that Ali Maiyanga said he did not get a chance to speak to his daughter properly, as she was emotional and the call was short? Do you know that he said she and others are safe and being looked after by the Nigerian army and that she was calling from a phone line belonging to a security official? He cuts in:
“She asked me. Is this my daddy? Is this my daddy, and she started crying. The crying was so much and I couldn’t hear her very well. I was crying too. I never expected to hear from her again. The whole family is so happy. Our house is full of people who are rejoicing with us.”
With this cheering news and more, do you know that this is the time to show better solidarity for the present administration as it remains focused to fix Nigeria? Have you heard the news published on Thursday 28th January, 2021 by the Debt Management Office (DMO) to the effect that Nigeria’s 6.75% USD500 million 2021 Eurobond which matured on January 28, 2021 has been redeemed as the funds had been made available by Nigeria to the Fiscal Agent to repay the principal sum of USD500 million and final Interest payment due on the Eurobond? Do you know that by this development, Nigeria under President Buhari continues to demonstrate in practical terms, his commitment towards honouring all debt service obligations as and when due to put Nigeria in proper perspective in the comity of nations? Do you know that this is a further step at advancing a better rating for Nigeria on Corruption Perception Index? Can you recall that Nigeria had planned a Eurobond issue early last year to fund its budget deficit and refinance the $500 million eurobond before it decided to defer the sale due to the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you know that it held its last Eurobond sale in 2018, its sixth of such issue, where it raised $2.86 billion? With this redemption, do you know that Sub-Saharan African governments will return to international capital markets this year with Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria to issue bonds as investors once again are expected to embrace more risks? Can you believe that Nigeria is facing its worst recession in 40 years brought on by an oil price crash, which has hammered its currency, created large financing needs and caused chronic dollar shortages, frustrating businesses and individuals?
Do you know that what Nigeria is going through is a passing phase and we shall surmount it very soon? Are you aware that on Wednesday 27th January, 2021, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) update released, projected that the Nigerian economy will grow by 1.5 per cent this year, slightly lower than the 1.7 per cent it had predicted for the country in its previous forecast as it predicted that in sub-Saharan Africa, growth will strengthen to 3.2 per cent in 2021 and 3.9 per cent in 2022? Do you know that it also expected oil prices to average above $50 per barrel in 2021, a more than 21 per cent rise from 2020’s depressed level on the back of the rollout of vaccines and fiscal stimulus programmes? Do you know that IMF stated that the updated version of the report was reviewed in line with emergence of a new variant of coronavirus, which poses as a concern for global recovery? Are you aware that at the launch of the report, the Economic Counselor and Director of the Research Department, of IMF, Ms. Gita Gopinath, warned that as much as 90 million people worldwide would fall below poverty bracket and also urged low income and emerging economies to hasten COVID-19 vaccination to stave off more poverty traps? Her voice cuts in: “Oil exporters and tourism-dependent economies are particularly hard hit and their prospects are severe given that oil prices have a subdued outlook and cross border travel is not expected to resume anytime soon. Even within countries, the burden of the crisis has been felt unequally across different groups. Workers with less education, youth and women have suffered disproportionate income losses. 90 million individuals are expected to enter extreme poverty over 2020/2021 reversing the trends of the past two decades. But there are many countries that are waiting till 2022 for that to happen and that is just costly for everybody not just for developing countries, it is also very costly for countries that have the vaccines. Which is why we are calling for greater funding for making sure these vaccines are available to poor nations. .. Oil exporters and tourism-based economies face particularly difficult prospects given the subdued outlook for oil prices and expected slow normalisation of cross-border travel.”
Can you see that Nigeria is not alone unhappy and this situation imposes a duty on us to douse tension at all cost? Are you aware that on Monday 25th January, 2021 the United Nations warned that the world economy is “on a cliff-hanger,” still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic whose impact will be felt for years but still expected to make a modest recovery of 4.7% in 2021 which would barely offset 2020 losses? Do you know that the U.N.’s new report on the World Economic Situation and Prospects said the once-in-a-century crisis sparked by the global impact of the coronavirus caused the global economy to shrink by 4.3% in 2020 — the sharpest contraction in global output since the Great Depression that began in 1929 and far higher than the 1.7% reduction during the Great Recession of 2009? According to the report, do you know that the lockdowns, quarantine measures and social distancing introduced during the second quarter of 2020 “helped to save lives but also disrupted the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people worldwide”? Do you know that by April, 2020 it said, “full or partial lockdown measures had affected almost 2.7 billion workers, representing about 81% of the world’s workforce,” and that another 131 million people were pushed into poverty, many of them women, children and people from marginalized communities? Do you know that China, the world’s second-largest economy where COVID-19 first emerged, was the only country in the world to register positive economic growth in 2020 — 2.4% — and the U.N. forecasts that it will grow by 7.2% in 2021? According to the U.N. forecasts, do you know that the U.S. economy will grow 3.4% in 2021 after shrinking 3.9% in 2020, Japan’s economy will grow 3% this year after contracting 5.4% last year, and economies of Euro-zone countries will grow 5% in 2021 after shrinking 7.4% in 2020? With this outlook, do you know that Nigeria’s oil-denominated economy may enjoy oil price regime of $50 per barrel which will be good for our economy in the year, provided there is no distruption in the Niger Delta region? Elliott Harris, cuts in: “The depth and severity of the unprecedented crisis foreshadows a slow and painful recovery. As we step into a long recovery phase with the roll out of the vaccines against COVID-19, we need to start boosting longer-term investments that chart the path toward a more resilient recovery — accompanied by a fiscal stance that avoids premature austerity. It will remain critical” that the Group of 20 — the world’s 20 major economies accounting for nearly 80% of world output — “return to the trajectory of growth, not only to lift the rest of the world economies but also to make the world economy more resilient to future shocks.”
Have you checked the new Forbes report to see that the current economic shock is biting some of the rich in our country too? Are you aware that on 22nd January, 2021, the Forbes Billionaires’ List for Africa’s Richest People 2021 was published? Do you know that African continent’s 18 billionaires are worth an average $4.1 billion, 12% more than a year ago, driven in part by Nigeria’s surging stock market? Do you know that for the tenth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is the continent’s richest person, worth $12.1 billion, up by $2 billion from last year’s list thanks to a roughly 30% rise in the share price of Dangote Cement, by far his most valuable asset? Do you know that the second richest is Nassef Sawiris of Egypt, whose largest asset is a nearly 6% stake in sportswear maker Adidas? Do you know that at number three is Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa, who inherited a stake in diamond firm DeBeers and ran the company until 2012, when he sold his family’s 40% stake in DeBeers to mining giant Anglo American for $5.1 billion? Do you know that while some got richer by the billions, two from the 2020 list of Africa’s richest dropped below the $1 billion mark? Do you know that according to the report, the only two women billionaires from Africa have both fallen off the list? According to Forbes, do you know that Forbes calculates that the fortune of Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, who owns an oil exploration company, dropped below $1 billion due to lower oil prices and with rising oil prices her fortunes will rise higher and Isabel dos Santos, who since 2013 has been the richest woman in Africa, was knocked from her perch by a series of court decisions freezing her assets in both Angola and Portugal? Can you recall that in January 2020, the Attorney General of Angola charged Dos Santos with embezzlement and money laundering and the Angolan court claimed that actions taken by Dos Santos, her husband Sindika Dokolo (who died in October 2020, reportedly in a scuba diving accident) and one other associate caused the Angolan government losses of at least $1.14 billion? Do you know that Forbes has marked Dos Santos’ frozen assets at zero? Do you know that the 18 billionaires from Africa hail from seven different countries? Do you know that South Africa and Egypt each have five billionaires, followed by Nigeria with three and Morocco with two? Do you know that altogether they are worth $73.8 billion, slightly more than the $73.4 billion aggregate worth of the 20 billionaires on last year’s list of Africa’s richest people?
Do you know that the Forbes lists track the wealth of African billionaires who reside in Africa or have their primary business there, thus excluding Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a U.K. citizen and billionaire London resident Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian citizen, Strive Masiyiwa, a citizen of Zimbabwe and a London resident, appears on the list due to his telecom holdings in Africa? Do you know that their net worth was calculated using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, 8th January 8, 2021? Can you believe that with all these challenges, some windows of development are still opening for individuals to grow? Do you know that some of these opportunities are created by government and we need to cooperate with all tiers of government to work for peace? Do you know that we have got a victory to celebrate? Come along!
Are you aware that the dead have their ways of talking to the living? Do you know that they can communicate through dreams or through their past writings or even through the manifestations of the curses they left behind? Do you know Ken Saro-Wiwa? Can you believe that Ken, and the other dead environmentalists of Ogoniland are currently shedding tears of joy in their unmarked graves? Do you know that the curses Ken rained on multi-national companies for causing degradation to the people of Ogoni and Nigeria are already manifesting, creating serious issues on our Corruption Perception Index? Are you aware that Shell discovered and started exploiting Nigeria’s vast oil reserves in the late 1950s? Do you know that the company has faced heavy criticism from activists and local communities over spills and for the company’s close ties to government security forces? Can you believe that leaking pipes are caused by poor maintenance and inadequate security and that Shell does not do enough to clean up spills? Can you recall that Ken Saro Wiwa died for that cause? Are you aware of Ken Saro-Wiwa, (10 October 1941 – 10 November 1995), a Nigerian writer, television producer and environmental activist? Do you know that for his activism, he was a winner of the Right Livelihood Award for “exemplary courage in striving non-violently for civil, economic and environmental rights” and the Goldman Environmental Prize? Do you know that he was from Ogoniland in the Niger Delta, a community targeted for crude oil extraction since the 1950s and which has suffered extreme environmental damage from decades of indiscriminate petroleum waste dumping? Do you know that Ken as a spokesman and then as president, of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), led a nonviolent campaign against environmental degradation of the land and waters of Ogoniland by the operations of the multinational petroleum industry, especially the Royal Dutch Shell company, a company that has always been reluctant to enforce environmental regulations? Do you know that while doing his campaign, he called on the Nigerian government for looking the other way each time Shell was called to account for pollution of its host communities?
Have you ever wondered where Abacha got his loot? Do you know that he facilitated those sharp practices through the oil majors in our country? Can you believe that when the campaign to a peak, General Abacha as the Head of State of Nigeria arraigned and tried him in a special military tribunal for allegedly masterminding the gruesome murder of Ogoni chiefs at a pro-government meeting? Do you know that many of the supposed witnesses against Ken later admitted that they had been bribed by the Nigerian government to support the criminal allegations to the effect that Saro-Wiwa was involved in the murders of the Ogoni elders? Do you know that these witnesses later recanted, stating that they had been bribed with money and offers of jobs with Shell to give false testimony, in the presence of Shell’s lawyer? And what happened? Can you recall that a team of executioners was flown in from Sokoto to Port Harcourt and he was hanged on 10th November 1995 by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha? Can you believe that his execution provoked international outrage and resulted in Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations for over three years? Do you know that Ken Saro-Wiwa made a final statement to the military tribunal that condemned him? Do you know that the curses he inserted there are still dogging Nigeria and the oil companies manipulating the fate of Nigeria and Nigerians? Ken’s final statement interludes:
“My lord, we all stand before history. I am a man of peace, of ideas. Appalled by the denigrating poverty of my people who live on a richly endowed land, distressed by their political marginalization and economic strangulation, angered by the devastation of their land, their ultimate heritage, anxious to preserve their right to life and to a decent living, and determined to usher to this country as a whole a fair and just democratic system which protects everyone and every ethnic group and gives us all a valid claim to human civilization, I have devoted my intellectual and material resources, my very life, to a cause in which I have total belief and from which I cannot be blackmailed or intimidated. I have no doubt at all about the ultimate success of my cause, no matter the trials and tribulations which I and those who believe with me may encounter on our journey. Nor imprisonment nor death can stop our ultimate victory.
I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The Company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learnt here may prove useful to it for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the Company has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of the Company’s dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punshed.
On trial also is the Nigerian nation, its present rulers and those who assist them. Any nation which can do to the weak and disadvantaged what the Nigerian nation has done to the Ogoni, loses a claim to independence and to freedom from outside influence. I am not one of those who shy away from protesting injustice and oppression, arguing that they are expected in a military regime. The military do not act alone. They are supported by a gaggle of politicians, lawyers, judges, academics and businessmen, all of them hiding under the claim that they are only doing their duty, men and women too afraid to wash their pants of urine. We all stand on trial, my lord, for by our actions we have denigrated our Country and jeapordized the future of our children. As we subscribe to the sub-normal and accept double standards, as we lie and cheat openly, as we protect injustice and oppression, we empty our classrooms, denigrate our hospitals, fill our stomachs with hunger and elect to make ourselves the slaves of those who ascribe to higher standards, pursue the truth, and honour justice, freedom, and hard work. I predict that the scene here will be played and replayed by generations yet unborn. Some have already cast themselves in the role of villains, some are tragic victims, some still have a chance to redeem themselves. The choice is for each individual.
I predict that the denoument of the riddle of the Niger delta will soon come. The agenda is being set at this trial. Whether the peaceful ways I have favoured will prevail depends on what the oppressor decides, what signals it sends out to the waiting public. In my innocence of the false charges I face here, in my utter conviction, I call upon the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger delta, and the oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up now and fight fearlessly and peacefully for their rights. History is on their side. God is on their side. For the Holy Quran says in Sura 42, verse 41: ‘All those that fight when oppressed incur no guilt, but Allah shall punish the oppressor.’ Come the day.”
Do you know that if Nigeria is to catch the new baton of prosperity and improve on the Corruption Perception Index, we have to tinker seriously with the laws guiding our resources? Are you aware that as predicted by Ken Saro-wiwa, four Nigerian farmers were seeking compensation and a clean-up from energy giant Shell for pollution caused by leaking oil pipelines in the Niger Delta by the energy giant Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary for damage to their land caused by leaks in 2004 and 2005? Do you know that in 2013, The Hague District Court ordered Shell Nigeria to compensate one of the four farmers involved in the case for making it too easy for saboteurs to open a well head that leaked onto his land while the court cleared Shell of blame in pollution of the other three farmers’ land and ruled that Shell’s Dutch parent company could not be held liable? Do you know that this is a victory for environmentalists and Nigerians whose land was polluted by oil leaks, as this Dutch appeals court ordered energy giant Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary to compensate two farmers? Do you know that both sides appealed, and judges ruled in 2015 that Shell could be held to account in Dutch courts for its actions in Nigeria? Do you know that the judges also ordered Shell to give the plaintiffs access to documents that could shed more light on the cause of the leaks and how much Shell management knew about them?
Hurray! Are you aware that on 29th January, 2021, another history was made as a district court in The Hague, Netherlands, a Dutch Appeals Court ordered energy giant Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary to compensate two farmers for damage to their land caused by a pair of oil leaks more than 15 years ago, two leaks that spewed oil over an area of a total of about 60 football pitches (soccer fields) in two villages, saying that it could not be established “beyond a reasonable doubt” that saboteurs were to blame? Can you believe that under Nigerian law, which was applied in the Dutch civil case, the company is not liable if the leaks were the result of sabotage? Do you know that if the farmers had approached the Nigerian courts, they would have lost their cases, situations that are already compounding our Corruption Perception Index? Do you know that The Hague Appeals Court ruled that sabotage was to blame for an oil leak in another village; however, it said that the issue of whether Shell can be held liable “remains open” and the case will be continued as the court wants clarification about the extent of the pollution and whether it still has to be cleaned up? Do you know that the court also ruled that Dutch-based mother company Royal Dutch Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary must fit a leak-detection system to a pipeline that caused one of the spills? Do you know that the decision, which can be appealed to the Dutch Supreme Court, is the latest stage in a case that is breaking new legal ground in how far multinationals in the Netherlands can be held responsible for actions of their overseas subsidiaries? The voice of Donald Pols, an activist, cuts in: “Up until this morning, Dutch multinationals could act with impunity in developing countries.. and this has changed now. From this moment onwards, Dutch multinationals will be held accountable for their activities and their actions in developing countries. And that’s an enormous victory for the rights of law globally”?
Can you see that the dead will be shedding tears of joy? Can you believe that in a written reaction, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited as expected, expressed disappointment, saying it continued to believe that sabotage caused the spills in the villages of Oruma and Goi? The voice of Shell cuts in: “Sabotage, crude oil theft and illegal refining are a major challenge in the Niger Delta. Indeed, in 2019 around 95% of spill incidents from our operations there were due to such criminal acts. Regardless of cause, we clean up and remediate, as we have done with the spills in this case. Like all Shell-operated ventures globally, we are committed to operating safely and protecting the local environment.” The Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth tweeted immediately after the decision was read out in court: “Tears of joy here. After 13 years, we’ve won”.
With the victory of these common farmers over Shell and its subsidiary in Nigeria, do you know that oil companies will now be called to account for their vices against the people of Nigeria and its environment? Can you see that justice can be served for Nigerians, even in foreign jurisdictions? We join millions of the people of Osun to thank Mr Adegboyega Oyetola for always dreamning big for Osun as work commences on Olaiya Fly-Over Bridge to put the State better on the world map of physical and social infrastructure? The people of Osun are enjoined to promote peace at all times to multiply the dividends of democracy which this Governor is seriously committed to do. We must march away from a state of emergency. The voice of Lyndon Johnson cuts in: “The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure. They are necessary symbols. They protect what we cherish. But they are witness to human folly.”