Mkpoikana Udoma 20 January 2016, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt -An internal crisis over the control of the socio-cultural body, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, has torn the Ogoni community in Rivers State apart, ahead of the expected commencement of the Federal Government-supervised $1 billion Ogoni remediation project recommended by the United Nation Environmental Protection Report, UNEP, to resuscitate the environment of the community from the spoilage of oil spills and other negative effects of oil operations.
Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara, MOSOP leader
The crisis rocking MOSOP took a new turn recently with the swearing-in of one Chief Mike-Lube Nwidobie as its president by the head of the Ogoni Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Highness Godwin Gininwa.
Nwidobie, who was second runners-up in the December 30 MOSOP election which saw the re-election of Mr. Legborsi Saro Pyagbara as the president of the group, has since the election continued to lay claims to the office, claiming the election was marred by irregularities and that he was the authentic winner of the election.
The battle for the soul of the socio-cultural group, SweetcrudeReports learnt, is part of posturing for control of the remediation project and whatever will come to the community from the $1 billion fund.
Indeed, oil industry sources said all appear set for the commencement of the project as the Federal Government would likely set up the governing board for Ogoni Restoration Fund soon, which will effectively kick-start the project.
In his acceptance speech during the swearing-in ceremony conducted by the head of the Ogoni Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers, Chief Nwidobie said he would be “tirelessly committed to the advancement of the course of the Ogoni nation”.
But in a swift reaction, the MOSOP led by Legborsi Pyagbara warned all Ogoni against being deceived by the purported swearing-in of Nwidobie by those it described as “a perfidious gang of anti-Ogoni elements,” saying the exercise “is absolute nullity”.
A statement by the Publicity Secretary of MOSOP, Mr. Fegalo Nsuke, re-stated that “Mike Lube-Nwidobie participated in the December 30, 2015 poll that produced the authentic president of MOSOP, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, and lost”, adding that as far as MOSOP was concerned, “swearing-in” is alien and unlawful as it is not backed by the MOSOP constitution, hence it has never been practised in the organisation”.