Mr Legborsi Pyagbara, the President of Movement for Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), has urged violent agitators in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country to embrace dialogue.
Pyagbara made the appeal on Thursday at Bodo in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers at the launch of the Ogoni clean-up by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The MOSOP president said there was immense benefit in non-violent approach to making demands and resolving issues.
He explained that the non-violent approach of the Ogoni people in pressing for the clean-up and remediation of their polluted land had paid off.
“Environmental restoration of our land remains the central plank of the Ogoni struggle.
“To the Ogoni, therefore, this day (Thursday) is a historic moment. It is the beginning of our victory, our journey for justice has been recognised.
“Our strategy of non-violence has been vindicated with the flag-off of the clean-up, launched by the president,’’ Pyagbara said.
According to him, the exercise marks the triumph of non-violence to demanding for justice.
“It is on this note that we call on all those who are involved in violent agitation in the country to sheath their sword and embrace a non-violent and peaceful advocacy.
“This is very importance because the benefits of non-violence are immense,’’ he said.
The MOSOP president also appealed to government to always protect the rights of the citizens and avoid actions that would make them resort to violence.
“We also urge government to avoid acting in ways that tends to suggest that they only listen when there is violence,’’ Pyagbara said.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for fulfilling his promise of cleaning the Ogoni polluted land and noted that the exercise was the culmination of long years of struggle and sacrifices.
“In the course of the struggle, over 2,000 souls were lost, communities decimated, a whole generation of leadership were wiped out and of course, thousands of our brothers fled into exile.
“In spite of all this, the Ogoni people have remained resilient and resolute.
“We have kept the faith with non-violence methodology and peaceful engagement and this has changed the course of our history as a people,’’ he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Sen. Magnus Abe, said the Ogoni people neither resorted to blowing up of oil pipelines or kidnapping while the struggle lasted.
Abe said that by their non-violent posture, the Ogoni had set example which should be emulated by other agitators.
“We are the ones lighting the path that Nigeria will follow because from now on, when you blow up pipeline everyone will know that you are destroying the environment.
“Our story started long ago, we have suffered failed promises but because of one man – President Buhari, in the leadership of Nigeria, the Ogoni story has changed for better,’’ Abe said.
He commended the president and others, who had identified with the Ogoni people in their effort to get justice, for their efforts.
The President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers and Gbenemene of Tai kingdom, Godwin Giniwa, lauded Buhari for fulfilling his campaign promise.
“When I invited him to Ogoni land during the campaign, I was thinking that because he was looking for vote, he would promise and fail us but he didn’t fail us,’’ he said.
Giniwa advised political leaders to always fulfil their promises to gain the people’s confidence.