The Ogoni Nation voted with 813,000 favoring votes (98% of the electorate) to establish the autonomous Ogoni Centeral Indigenous Authority (OCIA) as their government empowered to regulate Ogoni social, economic, political and cultural life in their Niger Delta country. The Ogoni Nation led non-violent opposition to the Shell Oil company’s criminal degredation of their river delta country. This is the second vote for political autonomy by the Ogoni people since 2009. The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), led by the Honorable Chrsitiana Nwiko administered the plebicite declaring the voting process peaceful. From December 15, 2011 to March 14, 2012 volunteers working under MOSOP’s oversight worked to verify the nearly unanimous vote favoring autonomy and self-government.
Ogoniland and its six Kingdoms: Babbe, eleme, Gokana, Ken-Khana, Nyo-Khana, Tai and the administrative units of Bori and Ban Ogoi.
The Ogoni Nation joins numerous indigenous nations (Yapti Tasba in eastern Nicaragua, more than five hundred American Indian nations, Igbos’ Biafra, the Hawaiian Nation, the Paiwan, Taroko and Tsao in Taiwan, Catalonia in north eastern Spain, and scores of other nations) voting plebicites to establish or reaffirm their powers of self-government. The Ogoni Nation invoked provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (13 September 2007) and pointed to Article 5 in the declaration supporting their reserve right to exercise self-government whil retaining their right to participate in the politics of the State of Nigeria.
In my book, Indigenous Nations and Modern States (that will be released in April) I document how indigenous nations around the world have been increasing the pace of changes in their political status creating a new international dynamic in the relations between nations and states. Some nations have pressed for independences (i.e., South Sudan and Federation of Micronesia) while many have pressed for autonomy, free association, and others have agreed to absorb into a state (Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu). Indigenous nations like the Ogoni are taking the initiative to affirm there original powers of self-government recognizing that the state surrounding their territory has taken from the indigenous people instead of ensuring their happy and satisfying life. The Ogoni, as with indigenous peoples around the world, exercise their right to freely choose their social, economic, political and cultural future without external interference, and by so doing they exercise their inherent right to govern themselves.
The Ogoni know instinctively recognize that they have a long and difficult road to travel as the future unfolds. Both external challenges and internal challenges await. Allies are now needed more than ever and for the Ogoni the Igbibo can help, but indigenous nations elsewhere in the world must lend a hand to support the renewal of Ogoniland.