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Don’t sabotage your people’s efforts towards liberty: Saro Wiwa as case study

By Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu

  • Lesson: Do not sabotage your own people’s efforts towards their liberation

Ken Saro Wiwa could not believe what happened to him. He never believed Abacha would confirm his death sentence!

From Oputa Panel revelations, on the day of his execution, he was unable to face his fate with fortitude because he believed that his sentence would be commuted.

When they came for him, he kept on asking if Abacha was aware?

He resisted being led to the execution point, kept on protesting for time as he expected reprieve would come at the 11th hour.

To calm him, he was shown the execution order signed by Abacha, but he frantically denounced it as fake, demanding audience with Abacha immediately.

The officer commanding the squad, a junior officer told him the only report his superiors would listen to would be report of his death and nothing else.

Wiwa reverted to telling his killers how close he was to Abacha; the afternoons they spent playing tennis at 2nd Artillery brigade in Port Harcourt in the 70s, the nice evenings they used to have.

That during the Ogoni protests, he had expected Abacha to have called him based on old times and asked him the least Ogoni would have accepted.

Wiwa pleaded and pleaded for his life to be spared. His pleas fell on deaf ears.

“Oh God”, he screamed, let my pleas work. His eyes were greasy with welling tears.

Why should today be his last day on earth? What crimes did he commit?

That he asked for his people to have a share of the wealth that comes from their land? The land that no longer supports farming or fishing because of oil spillage.

He mistook the officer’s dark reflections for contemplations of pity!

Any independent observer would conclude that Saro deserves pity and more. He had worked for it. His efforts during the civil war shortened the duration and saved thousands of Nigerian soldiers lives.

You see, while the Biafrans blocked Omanelu and Isiokpo axis through Elele Junction, Saro was able to organise guides who guided the Nigerian soldiers to infiltrate through Etche, Alulu, link up to Ihiagwa and Nekede, connect Obosima and cut off the Biafran soldiers who had successfully blocked the 3rd Marine Commandos advance led by Black Scorpion.

Wiwa was rewarded with appointment as the Civilian Administrator of the port city of Bonny.

And it was really this bit of history that was the bone of contention.

He rightly or wrongly believed he had equal stake in the territory called Nigeria, having staked his life and helped in defeating those who were neigbours to him.

So, the shares of spoils of war, for which oil was the paramount spoil should be extended to his people, because without their efforts it would have been impossible to subdue Biafra in the battle field.

Remember that the 3rd Marine Commandos were eventually routed from Owerri, just before the end of the war, wherein Black Scorpion among the few to escape, had to escape dressed as a woman, for which he was court marshalled and dishonourably discharged.

Adekunle the scorpion died a pauper, neglected by the federal side he fought for.

On the other hand, Wiwa’s erstwhile partners in conquest/crime, believed they have more than adequately rewarded him by making him an administrator of the city of Bonny and also making him a commissioner in Rivers State.

So he should keep off the oil, whether it was drilled from his village or not.

Posterity would judge who was right between him and those Abacha represented. For me as a scholar, I believe his requests or demands were in order. Eye wey see deal, dey follow share. The child who pounded the pepper is entitled to a share.

Wiwa’s fate had been decided the day he asked about the oil.

The recipients of the message were people from the oil-producing communities. None would dare ask questions about “our oil” after Wiwa’s execution.

At that point, the captain gave his orders and he was lifted up, struggling and protesting till he was tied up and killed.

When the question of the whereabouts of Wiwa’s body was raised at the Oputa panel, one of the soldiers giving evidence reported that it was completely dissolved in acid.”

This is an intelligent narrative beautifully written.

But I should add that Mr Saro-Wiwa, like Adaka Boro and many other “Niger Delta” youths who would betray their new republic, had studied at secondary school and university on Eastern Nigeria scholarship.

It should also be noted that because of Saro-Wiwa’s betrayal, he was also rewarded with countless number of “abandoned properties”, including some previously belonging to Chief John Anyaehie (late father of Barr Nnamdi Anyaehie, CoS to Governor Hope Uzodinma).

Late Sani Abacha and late Saro-Wiwa once lived together in one of the abandoned properties he had seized.

Ken Saro Wiwa’s son, Ken Jnr. also died very young. He died suddenly in London on 18 October 2016, aged 47, after suffering a stroke.

Finally, recall that, before Saro-Wiwa’s arrest, he had run to the same Enugu and the same Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu he had betrayed, to ask for Igbo intervention in his murder case.

It was then that Ojukwu uttered that immortal word “Okokorokoooo” to the frightened Ogoni man.

The meeting that Saro-Wiwa attended was at Hotel Presidential Enugu, built by Michael Okpara who had given Saro-Wiwa scholarship to study at Government College Umuahia – and also betrayed by Saro-Wiwa!

Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu

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