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Ogoni wants 55 years of political marginalisation redressed

By Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt
22 April 2022   |   2:49 am
Ahead of the 2023 elections, the Ogoni people of Rivers State have lamented political marginalisation and injustice meted out to them since the creation of the state.

Ahead of the 2023 elections, the Ogoni people of Rivers State have lamented political marginalisation and injustice meted out to them since the creation of the state.

Former president of the Movement for the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Legborsi Pygbara, yesterday in Port Harcourt, urged leaders of political parties at state and federal levels to address political injustice done to Ogoni for over 55 years by successive governments.

According to Pygbara, who is also the convener of the Ogoni Democracy and Development Forum (ODDF), since 1967 when Rivers State was created and Chief Diete Spiff served as the first governor till the current administration of Nyesom Wike, no Ogoni man has been elected to serve as governor, deputy governor, speaker or chief judge despite its huge population and highly educated people.

He described the neglect as a very strong case that should touch the heart of party leaders to demonstrate statesmanship, equity, fair play and a sense of justice by ensuring that a Rivers governor of Ogoni extraction emerges out of various political parties, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Pygbara said: “The issue of political marginalisation of the Ogoni people has been one of the triplets of core issues in the ongoing Ogoni struggle for justice. The Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR), submitted to the government and people of Nigeria in October 1990, had, amongst others, called on governments to guarantee the Ogoni adequate and direct representation in all national institutions.

“It is saddening to note that 55 years after the creation of Rivers State and 28 years after the launch of Ogoni Bill of Rights, the Ogoni have continued to be systemically marginalised in the political affairs of Rivers State and, indeed, Nigeria.”

Pygbara said the continued denial of the people of representation smacks of discrimination, injustice, and political impunity to the practice of genuine and inclusive democracy.

He said he hinged his call on the fact that the two major political parties that had controlled power at federal levels believe in rotation and federal character principle, adding: “The 1999 Constitution (as amended) also emphasises in Section 14 (3) and (4), the federal character principle and the need to balance political opportunities.”