A former Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Dr Ekong Sampson, has said the National Water Resources Bill presently before the National Assembly, will further divide the nation.
Speaking at an event held by the Uyo Book Club to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the hanging of foremost writer and environment rights activist, Ken Saro Wiwa, Sampson advised legislators in the National Assembly to do all they can to step down the Bill, and save the country needless acrimony.
” The National Water Resources Bill should be discarded because it is a threat to national unity, peace and cohesion.”
He further said if Saro Wiwa was alive, he would have kicked against the Bill, ” as the Bill is also against resource control and true federalism.”
He urged Nigerians to work hard to protect democracy, maintaining that ‘ under a democracy, Ken wouldn’t have been lynched, Mamman Vatsa wouldn’t have been killed and Chris Okigbo wouldn’t have been murdered”
He said writers must stand for something as Ken did.
“Ken stood for something and paid the supreme price. We, as writers, must stand for something”
Sampson, himself an accomplished writer and poet, said as Commissioner of Environment and Petroleum Resources in Akwa Ibom State for a short period, he came face to facey with the reality of the situation Saro Wiwa fought and died for. He urged Nigerians to protect the environment as well.
” I urge us to also protect the environment, especially in the Niger Delta where oil exploration and exploitation has rendered the environment deplorable and useless. I spent a few years as Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources and I tell you, we must do all we can to protect our environment like Ken did. The oil companies only care about their business.Oil politics is also very deep. That is why we must rise up to protect our environment”
The Guest Speaker at the event, Prof Nkereuwem Atakpo of the University of Uyo lamented that Saro Wiwa’s spirit was still not at rest, as the challenges he fought and died for are still posing a major impediment to the progress and development of the Niger Delta. He said the Niger Delta has lost its voice since the death of Saro Wiwa.
“The problem is not about the execution of Ken.It is about the problem he left behind.Today, they talk about Ogoni clean up. All words, no action. Who is going to fight for them when they are busy fighting themselves”
He equally berated the media, youths and so called millitant-freedom fighters for their role in not taking the cause for which Saro Wiwa died for to the next level. He said the millitant freedom fighters all became money bags out of the struggle, leaving the people and the region to continue to wallow in self pity.
Major Hogan Ene, a lawyer and retired officer of the Nigeria Army said the region needed a thorough re-orientation in values and behaviour.
Convener of the Book Club, Dr Udeme Nana said the day was marked to remember what the late Saro Wiwa stood for. He said Saro Wiwa stood for justice, equity and freedom from oppression.