The Ogoni Welfare Association (OWA) Lagos Branch celebrated the 28th Memorial Anniversary of the late Ken Saro Wiwa and other martyrs of Ogoni amid pomp and pageantry at the 81 Division Officers’ Mess, Onikan Lagos.
The event held beside the breezy waterfront had in attendance notable Ogoni sons and daughters from all walks of life with cultural displays like music, national anthem and much to eat.
Chairmen from the four local government areas of Ogoni Kingdom namely: Dr Bariere Thomas (Khana Local Government Area); Hon. Confidence Deko (Gokana LGA); Hon. Mbakponee Okpe (Tai LGA) and Hon. Obarilomate Ollor (Eleme LGA) were honoured with awards.
In his opening remarks, Chairman, Lagos chapter of OWA, Comrade ThankGod Meekor restated the group’s commitments not only to the welfare of indigenes in Lagos but to a strong voice in matters affecting the people of Ogoni Kingdom in Lagos State.
Meekor stated that the hallmark of the day’s event was aimed to be an interactive session where people from Ogoniland should ask thought-provoking questions as to what the association has been doing positively or negatively.
Highlighting some of the achievements under his leadership, he noted that OWA is the only Ogoni socio-cultural group that has its own built secretariat outside Ogoni land adding that no Ogoni extraction has a building anywhere outside Ogoni Kingdom.
He disclosed that the edifice was named after the iconic Ken Saro Wiwa, adding that the building has over 500 sitting capacity hall, multiple offices, lobby, kitchen, conveniences and parking lot.
The Chairman affirmed that youths from Ogoniland have been encouraged and empowered through the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme pointing out that the deployment of young Ogoni indigenes to Lagos State are properly taken care of.
“Also, on a yearly basis, we encourage the deployment of young Ogoni graduates to Lagos for national youth service, to expose them to the dynamic and multiple opportunities in Lagos.
“We are proud to note that this has been a very rewarding programme in sustaining our numerical and qualitative strength in Lagos State. We do not only encourage them to come, we provide accommodation, help in job placement, organise seminars to properly and effectively integrate them into the system.
“We can attest to the fact that some of our very best in several fields of endeavours have been trained and groomed here,” he stated.
He further charged the women’s wing to join hands and promote the socio-cultural group in Lagos, as part of efforts to add value to the growth of OWA
While commending the women’s wing, he affirmed that “Going forward we want to use today’s event to forge a greater collaboration between our leaders at all levels, MOSOP, OWA/GOWA as well as other Ogoni socio-cultural organisations towards creating an Ogoni we will all be proud of.
“More so, considering the huge sacrifice our past leaders for whom we are gathered here to commemorate have paid for our struggle, and importantly that a lot still needs to be done in our quest to have an Ogoni that will not only assume its proper and dominant place in Rivers State, but will also have a strong voice on national issues,” Meekor affirmed.
He called on the Rivers State Government to step up and explore the potential and assets in the state adding that the pollution of Ogoni needs to be addressed.
On his part, a member of OWA Lagos, Pastor Deele appreciated God’s intervention for a successful hosting of the 2023 anniversary, adding that the programme is symbolic to the rights of Ogoni people.
He also urged the federal government to do the needful by providing lasting solutions to the issues being faced in Ogoniland.
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