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Who is Essential Action?
Ogoni Students play vital role in struggle at home and abroad

By Charles Wiwa, Secretary of NUOS, USA

The National Union of Ogoni Students, dubbed NUOS, is one of the units of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). It was formed in 1990 following the birth of MOSOP. It is apparent that in an environmental awareness struggle that deals much with enlightenment and outreach, student groups will have a very challenging role to play.

Before the inception of NUOS, student groups existed in villages and academic institutions, and were named after their villages and institutions. Major end of year activities like graduation ceremonies, colloquies and sent forth parties were the chief medium through which all groups met and exchanged ideas of national interest. The Ogoni cause formed the basis for unification and a common objective
for these student groups.

NUOS has used its position as a pan-Ogoni movement to enlighten non-Ogoni students in high schools and tertiary institutions in Nigeria on the ecological degradation of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta. NUOS takes pains to explain how Shell is aligned with the Nigerian military dictatorship, turned Ogoni into a waste land, and its people into internal slaves. NUOS was shocked to discover that in nearly four decades of oil exploration in Ogoni, no more than 2% of its students benefited from the Shell /government scholarship scheme.
It also found that 90% of its graduates are not employed by the transnational companies that abound in Ogoniland. NUOS's anger stems also from the fact that Ogoni is not developed in any sense: it lacks a functional library, hospitals, communication facilities, access roads, recreation centers, steady electricity, pipe borne water, etc. This developmental racism against the Ogoni people inspired the students to join other groups in the emancipation of Ogoni for its future generations.

The victories of the MOSOP struggle has been countered by 'ethnic cleansing' of the Ogoni community: several villages razed down, over 3,000 massacred, young girls and married women raped and over 30,000 turned internal refugees, arbitrary arrests and detention without charges, secret executions, disappearances, false trials and hasty executions. Several student activists have been victims of the above atrocities.

The hangings of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni compatriots on November 10, 1995 marked the climax of the Ogoni struggle. Amidst re-enforced military troops in all kingdoms of Ogoni, and the shocking blow of the executions, NUOS (when all hopes were lost in observing the 1996 Ogoni Day Celebration) mobilized itself, women, men and children and marked the day. Following this, over fifty of its leaders including Mr. Sunny Kogbo, Leteh Allen Gbarale (National President and Director of Socials & Cultural Affairs, respectively), Charles Wiwa, Bate Kumameneage, NekaBari Ikomah, Christopher Asugbor, Kara Philip, Israel Eyi, Aaron Mtuanwi, Charles Nnah, etc were arrested, tortured and detained in several detention camps. Many of them are still in detention, while 68% of the total number of Ogoni students in tertiary institutions were forced out of the country and became refugees in other West African Countries.

The foregoing portends danger for Ogoni, as it is evident that the community of about 650,000 is bound to lose over 90% of its manpower in the next decade. For nearly 3 years, students have been out of school and kept in a concentration camp amid threat of abduction by Nigerian security agents. No doubt, a number of them have been physically and mentally broken down (but not defeated) as their fate remains uncertain. Nigerian authorities have been too slow to take actions on behalf of these youths. NUOS sees this development as a gradual and tactical (intentional) means of extinction of Ogoni through the influence of Royal Dutch/Shell oil-- the genocidal super-lords of Ogoni.

A chapter of NUOS International was inaugurated in the US by the President of MOSOP USA, Professor Vincent Idemyor, and Tee Idee Igboh, Coordinator of MOSOP Chicago. A summary of NUOS US's objectives are as follows:
(a) developing and organizing Ogoni students worldwide
(b) enlightenment campaign on the situation in Ogoni, the Niger Delta and Nigeria
(c) exposing the cruel activities of Shell towards the indigenous peoples of the world
(d) canvass for support for the release of the Ogoni 20, other political prisoners in Nigeria and restoration of democracy in Nigeria.
(e) setting up scholarships for deserving Ogoni students in Nigeria
(f) bringing justice to the Ogoni people through litigation
(g) rehabilitating exiled Ogoni students
(h) working with other students around the world to justify the importance of education by eradicating illiteracy and oppression.

Since its inception on October 20, 1996 in the US, NUOS has embarked on several speaking tours and presentations at a number of schools and  organizational forums. A Canadian chapter is expected to be inaugurated in Canada before the end of this year. A NUOS national convention is billed for December this year. Join NUOS in its intellectual and non-violent struggle for peace and justice for the indigenous people of Ogoni, the Niger Delta and other minorities of the world.

NUOS members are available for speaking events on campuses and interviews with the media (especially campus magazines and newspapers). Please contact Essential Action to get in touch with Anslem John-Miller (President of NUOS), Charles Wiwa, and other NUOS activists. Return to Nigerian Groups and NUOS.