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MOSOP Coordinator, Kansas City, U.S.A.: Re: Saro Wiwa’s son named presidential adviser

By Dum-ale Tanee
(MOSOP Coordinator, Kansas City, U.S.A.) 

The recent appointment of Ken Saro Wiwa Jr as the special adviser on peace, conflict resolution and reconciliation to President Olusegun Obasanjo as reported in The Nigerian guardian newspaper, Friday June 02, 2006 has been received with mixed reactions from all quarters of Ogoni and the entire Niger Delta as well. While some reject such appointment because of the timing (few months for Obasanjo to stay in office), insincerity and insensitivity of the government, others welcome it with caution.

Considering the strong unholy alliance between $hell (the source of the conflict) and the government of Nigeria, and the strong resolve by the people of Niger Delta to take full control of their resources, many think that he has the most difficult job of the decade at hand.  

As I welcome his appointment as the special adviser on peace, conflict resolution and reconciliation to President Olusegun Obasanjo, I hope that he would use this office to serve the people of Ogoni in particular and the entire Niger Delta as well. But before I become optimistic in his appointment I would like to briefly reflect on some of the previous appointments of this nature, the attitude of the Nigerian government, what can bring about real peace and the task of conflict resolution and reconciliation in this dispensation.
In the past, we have witnessed the appointment of Wole Soyinka as the director of the Federal Road Safety Commission and our Great Ken Saro Wiwa as one of the directors of MAMSER by the IBB administration. These two highly respected individuals resigned their positions honorably before any damage was done to their reputations because of implementation problem on the side of the government. While on Soyinka’s side, the government was not willing to spend enough money to put our roads in safe condition, on that of Ken, it was not doing anything to diversify the economy despite their recommendations. Also, the late Dr Tai Solarin was appointed as the first chairman of the defunct Peoples Bank and Olu Onagurowa as the Attorney General of the Federation respectively. All these two men claimed to be democrats, although they served in different administrations, they were not very smart or lucky enough and they ended up destroying their reputations for ever. However this is not to say that similar thing may happen to Ken Jr, but he needs to be very careful considering the difficult tasks before him. 
Also, it has been the attitude of our government not to listen to leaders who speak the truth; will Obasanjo now listen to him at the tail end of his administration? Or will he be put there as a “rubber stamp” to their failed policies? Our government has deliberately refused to listen to our leaders that speak the truth or speak for the people. This is the reason why several development programmes put in place to address the needs of our people have failed completely, for example, Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB), Oil Mineral Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC) and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). All these failed coordinated-development programmes are part of their broader “policy of containment” put in place to create false hope while they continue to exploit.       

One thing that Ken Jr. must know is that President Obasanjo was part of the broader conspiracy that staged the murder of the Ogoni 4 in order to kill Ken, and that the only reason why he was put in prison was because he wanted Abacha’s job after the whole plan, which he now has. He was not a democrat and will never be. His style of leadership is completely dictatorial. He has on several occasions bypassed the national assembly to act , contrary to the stipulations of the constitution. The most recent one under probe by the senate as reported by The Guardian Newspaper, June 02, 2006, President Obasanjo single handedly withdrew $12.4b to the Paris Club and also , another $2.475b was withdrawn for the Niger Delta Power Sector Development. If Obasanjo would not seek the approval of our elected representatives for such huge amounts I doubt how much advice he may accept from his advisers, but I pray for a change. 

I do know that the task of resolving the conflict in the Niger Delta is the main work that Mr. Ken Jr has been asked to do. But that is not going to be easy except the government is prepared to concede to our demands. 

$hell, government and other oil companies operating in the Niger Delta have hurt and angered our people which I know Ken Jr is very much in similar pain. This injury needs to be healed, therefore any negotiation to resolve our conflict with $hell, government and others must be based on the demands of our people and not any form of coordinated- development. Reconciliation can only come when our demands have been fully met, not half met.   
As a first step to peace, I would like Ken Jr. to advise the president to sponsor legislations that will proscribe all laws that conflict with the interest of the people of Niger Delta or minority and put in place those that will give us greater control of our resources. He should advise him to withdraw the military from the Niger Delta and stop importing arms against us; instead such money should be used for other meaningful projects. Also, since corruption is one of the greatest obstacles to peace, he should reduce corruption at all levels. He should urgently address the demands of the Ogoni people as contained in the OBR. Also, he should immediately set up a probe panel that will probe the activities of $hell and other oil companies in the Niger Delta from 1970 to present. The probe panel should be empowered to recommend penalty such as banning $hell from Nigeria among others. Another probe panel should be setup to probe the gap between the last time the oil producing areas received 50% in royalty to present.
In his interview on National Public Radio (NPR), Fresh Air, on Monday, September 10, 2001 Mr. Ken Jr said that he will not do anything to “upset $hell.” Now that he has been offered this appointment, he is in a direct position to upset not only $hell but also the government and all the oil companies if he stands for the truth. On the other hand, if he plays the government way he will surely end up upsetting the people of Niger Delta which is not a good thing to do. However, it is better to upset $hell, the government and other oil companies with the truth than to upset our people. I hope that he will do a good job to expose more the insincerity and insensitivity of $hell and the government by recommending to the government what will bring true peace and reconciliation for them to act on. 
Dum-ale Tanee
(MOSOP Coordinator, Kansas City, U.S.A.) 

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