Saturday, 22 April 2017

Comrade Sunny Ofehe, The Niger Delta Struggle And The Rest Of Us (Part 1) - By Tony Onazi




The Man Comrade Sunny Oghale Ofehe.


Comrade Sunny Oghale Ofehe born on 1st February, 1972 in Lagos Nigeria, attended Ogelle Primary school, Ughelli, Delta State from 1977 to 1983, he later proceeded
to Unity School Agbarho, Delta State from 1983 to 1988. In the quest for further education he applied and gained admission to study Chemistry in the prestigious University of Benin, Edo State from 1991 to 1995. He is born into the family of Late Chief Ofehe who had three wives including Sunny 's Mum, this indeed prepared him with the uncommon wisdom to deal with issues involving people, though of same background and family but of slightly difference in character and perception.


In 2001 Comrade Ofehe lost his Dad to the cold hands of death, and later his Mother was assassinated in 2007 by some unknown assassins many hold beliefs that it might be a way of frustrating the activities of Comrade in the Niger Delta struggle. His love and stance in changing the fortunes of his people even grew bigger after the sad incident took place.


From early age he showed prospect and love for democracy and quality leadership by involving actively in the democratic process of June 12th, 1993 that saw MKO Abiola declared winner. As a student and strong union activist he was one of those that inspired the protest led by National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) against the annulment of the June 12th election. Comrade Sunny in his words described the election as; "an election that broke all records in Nigeria till this day. A country divided almost evenly between Muslim and Christians, saw a Muslim contest in an election and win. The election was declared the free-est and fairest ever in the history of Nigeria which dropped religious and ethnic sentiments to vote for one man" (source www.suprisingeurope.com, 22nd June 2014). In so many interviews the man Comrade Sunny Ofehe has narrated his story and the surrounding circumstances of his exit from Nigeria to his present place of domicile (Netherlands) in all his travails and struggles he has been steadfast in the course of his people and the fight for better life for the common man.




Upon the death of Ken Saro Wiwa and despite financial difficulties he has faced he found his way to the Netherlands  via France without an International  passport and asked for political asylum. He was embattled by so many challenges but he weathered the storm, and manned up when the struggle was tensed he always rose up to the occasion when necessary little wonders he is fondly called the Martin Luther King of Niger Delta by his folks and Allies. It has been recorded that he left Nigeria on 26th November, 1996.


THE NIGER DELTA COURSE AND THE REST OF US.


Petroleum remains Nigeria's major economy sustainer hence the Niger Delta remains the country's honey pot. Being that as it may the region has not got the required attention it deserves. The oil exploration has led to oil spillage which has resulted in deplorable state of the land hereby hindering farming and cultivation. In 1997 a scientific survey was published by Niger Delta Environmental Survey (NEDES) it reported thus; "poverty is prevalent in the Niger Delta and has been linked to degradation of agricultural Lands and fishing waters, affected people become impoverished. In many cases, they tend either to migrate to become part of the urban poor or to remain in their villages to grapple with the low yielding lands and poor sources of water" the NEDES report seems to be a vivid capture of the realities in the Niger Delta, it later led to the activities of Niger Delta militants who used sabotage to get the attention of the Government.




Comrade Sunday Ofehe has shouldered the responsibility of chanting a new Course for his people by applying the non violence campaign. As a growing child as expressed in one of his interviews he describes the ordeal of Ken Sano Wiwa who was killed during the Abacha regime and the subsequent coincidence of having one of his sons Dylan Ofehe born on the same day the hero was killed (10th November, 2008)  also the gas flaring and the bitter sweet experiences of his childhood. Indeed the Niger Delta was a land flowing with milk and honey but the aborigines were in dying need of the basics of life.


Comr. Ofehe was arrested and charged by the Dutch police in 2011 a time he had concluded plans for the burial of his mother. His only sin was his testimony in the Dutch parliament against the activities of shell which was affecting his people in the Niger Delta. His arrest led to many reactions by eminent Nigerians amongst them was Festus Keyamo, he reacted thus: "I am totally taken back by this charge of terrorism. The Sunny I know will never get involved in such things. I hope the facts would be made open to dispel any notion of persecution. I will follow this trial keenly" source-vanguard Newspaper, 2011. With all the trial and persecution Comrade stood his grounds and with his organization "Hope for Niger Delta Campaign " he was able to bring the plight of his people to the knowledge of the World.



In resolving the problem of the Niger Delta ranging from illegal refinery to militancy Comrade Sunny has on many platform advised for absorbing of the culprit and recruited to work for Government and he has on so many occasions urged the government to back their words with actions in cleaning up the polluted land of Niger Delta commending the present administration for having the area in their thoughts.


He is so endeared to his home state that many are calling him to run for the 2019 Governorship for Delta State, a call that has come timely when he has passed all the classes of leadership training and public service. His achievements have not gone unnoticed as he was awarded in 2015 by Africa4U as an Outstanding Achievement 2015 for Africans In Europe. He was also one of the organisers of Media for Democracy In Africa (International Conference and training in the Netherlands and Belguim).




In the words of Martin Luther King Jr "faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase " the dream of restoring peace and development is a dream that can be actualised and one man that has been in the fore front of that dream is Comrade Sunny Ofehe.

Written By: Spencer Tony Onazi.

Edited By: Oriri Peter Onu

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