Chief Solomon Ndigbara, the Mene Sira Baraba Teera I of Ogoniland is a foremost Niger Delta ex-agitator’s leader, from Yeghe, Gokana Local Government Area of Ogoni ethnic nationality in Rivers State.
In this interview with EDITH CHUKU, he speaks on the alleged marginalization of the Ogonis, also urging the youths to shun criminality and imbibe peace for a better Ogoni land.
The Ogonis seem wounded, what is their grievance?
You see, what the Ogoni people are passing through, I do not like it. When you talk about the struggle of Niger Delta, atleast, Ogoni man took part; Ken Saro-Wiwa was killed, we all know the sacrifices that legend made, all for a better tomorrow, which has began already as today. After Isaac Boro, Ken Siro Wiwa came in, they fought, yet, what has the Ogonis benefitted thus far? The Ogonis are part and has always been part of this struggle, yet what have we benefited.
Is that to say the Ogonis are marginalized?
So many things have been happening, and are still happening in the Niger Delta, they did not recognize Ogoni people, they never did.
Now that God has done it, they tried and remembered Ogoni, you will see that even the office they gave to Ogoni man, just PA, ordinary PA will want to run that office for the Ogoni man, and we, the people from Ogoni, we say no, enough of this deprivation, don’t see us and treat us as insignificant, no.
We know that when this problem started, we did not fight with gun, but that does not mean that they will look us as common people, because we are not, it’s our love for peace that made us not to.
There is criminality, cultism in Ogoni?
(cuts in) and we are not happy about it, we are sad, we shed tears when we hear such things, that is why my own advice to the youth of Ogoni is that, let’s embrace peace, unity, love, togetherness, let other tribes not take these opportunities, no, together we stand, divided, we fall, let’s come together, we are one blood, one family, let’s come together, so we will no longer be cheated, together we can achieve a better Ogoniland for our children. Not when they when to cheat us they will give them money to go on air and say nonsense, it is bad, it is time to unite.
We need peace in Ogoni, I will always say the truth, bring people together, our leaders should help us, help Ogoni, we are part of the Niger Delta, let our rights be accorded us, we don’t want fights, battles, we want peace but this peace will be possible if we do the right thing, cultism is killing Ogoni, though not just Ogoni but cultism is taking over the youths and that is not helping us
Like this woman they appointed as a member, all the things she was supposed to do in her office was taken to another person that is not a member, and after doing that, they found some money give to Ogoni person to go on air and say the whole thing that belong to Ogoni people that the woman herself embezzled it, then you want to put the woman, your sister into trouble, when you know nothing about what is happening in that office. If they say Ogoni is apart of Niger Delta anything that they are doing they should involve Ogoni people, and let our youth stop taking change from people to turn Ogoni upside down, I cannot sit down here and fold my hands, even when Ken was alive, I worked with Ken and I know about the struggle, so enough is enough.
Now that you have mentioned it, is it a mere allegation that certain amount of money that runs into millions of naira was given to Mrs. Caroline Nagbo to reach out to the Niger Delta youths?
That is a huge lie, and that is why I am reacting this way, it is very disappointing, see, I just don’t get up and talk what I do not know, I also find out something before I say it, the woman was in Abuja when all these things happened, nobody called her, but suddenly, somebody from somewhere go on air, say something of such was sent to Ogoni and the thing is in that woman’s hand. You know, I started receiving series of calls, that I should call her to order, when I know that nothing has been given to that woman.
What is your request as it concerns the Ogoni people?
When they talk of Peace of Niger Delta, our leader; Ken Saro-Wiwa contributed, but when they give appointment, they either forget us or treat us anyhow. I think that time was Derick Mene, suddenly they throw him out, they bring Joy Nuyie, infact that one did not stay upto three months, they threw her away, okay they brought this woman, the office that this woman was supposed to hold and do everything, they did not allow the woman to be in control like it should be, that means that all the things they are doing, they fear that people will talk on how they are depriving us, that they are not involving Ogoni people, so now, they just carry them put and they will not allow them to do the work, all I’m saying is all that is good for Ogoni people, just as it’s been done for others, do for Ogoni, development, human capacity building, infrastructure, appointments, what they know Ogoni people deserve, give to them.
And to NDDC, what is your message?
One, it’s no crime if an Ogoni person assumes the position of the MD, Ogoni people fit that MD, two, if they appoint any person from Ogoni, they should allow that person to do his or her work in that office, they should not use SA to run the office, while an Ogoni person was appointed, we cannot fold our hands and watch these things happen to the Ogoni people, they should do the needful.