On this day in 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine were executed on false allegations (proven) of murder. These men known as the ‘Ogoni 9‘ were hanged under the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. Their real crime? Fighting for the compensation of the Ogoni people whose land was pillaged for its oil riches. The issue? The people livelihoods were being destroyed for this oil, yet they didn’t receive a dime of the profits.
19 years on, what do have to say for ourselves? I often hear people say that they are absolutely unwilling to die for Nigeria because neither they nor their sacrifice will be remembered. Every 10th of November in Nigeria is a testament to that sentiment. Today, there was no Google Doodle, no remembrance days, no minutes of silence, nothing substantial to commemorate these men who sacrificed their lives.
*Shell, the main oil company, involved in the whole fiasco settled out of court with the victims’ families for about $15 million in 2009*
Today, more than 47 school children have been murdered in a Boko Haram-suspected suicide bomb attack in Yobe State. A great way to commemorate such an auspicious day, yes? It would seem we place very little value, if any at all, on the lives of our people. Trace that back to tribal leaders who would sell their subjects as slaves to foreigners for gunpowder and mirrors. That’s the only explanation I can give for our apparent disinterest in the rate at which people are being slaughtered in northern Nigeria today.
The execution of those men is one of the most barbaric, blatantly corrupt, and shameful acts of any administration in Nigeria. And has it taught us anything? Of course, it seems that we have learnt to:
- fight for our own and our own alone
- turn a blind eye to wrongdoing
- allow injustice to pass unpunished
- and fear some more
After all, even if we die for the country, we will still be forgotten anyway.
In 1995, 9 men were killed; this year, more than 40 boys have been murdered. What do we have to say for ourselves?