By Prisca Sam-Duru
At the Startup/Funders Roundtables and Entrepreneurship Conference 2019, held at the LCCI Conference and Exhibition Centre, Alausa Ikeja, over the weekend, memories of late playwright and environmental activist, Kenule Saro-Wiwa reverberated all through the duration of the event.
The highpoint of the conference which held courtesy of Global Entrepreneurship Network in Partnership with Ogoni Liberation Initiative, was the presentation of the book titled “Complete Statement by Ken Saro-Wiwa to Ogoni Civil Disturbances Tribunal: The Complete Story”
Presenting the book to the public, the President of the Ogoni Liberation Initiative, Mr Douglas Fabeke stated that the book which was presented alongside a calendar, titled, “The Ogoni of My Dream”, documents statements by Ken Saro Wiwa prior, during his incarceration and before he was finally hanged in Port Harcourt, by the then Military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha. He noted that it corresponds with what Ken Saro-Wiwa lived and died for which was why the principles he laid down are documented in the book, adding that “The compendium will give the entire world the exact information about the struggles of the Ogoni people.”
“The book helps to understand Ogoni issues very well. If it had been available early enough, the world would not have swallowed the much available misconceptions and lies about Ken and the Ogoni people. We presented the book because a lot of people misunderstood what Ken Saro Wiwa did and why he died and so, when we researched and got some of his materials, we decided to put them together so that people will know these things, the reason he campaigned for Ogoni and what has happened in Ogoni. So read the book and you will be well informed.” Fabeke said.
From all indication, the Ogoni people in Niger Delta region seem to have finally found a way out of the daunting challenges that have bedevilled them over the years. These challenges stemmed from the discovery of oil and its resultant environmental pollution that has degraded the region. The people believe it has come to the point where entrepreneurship skill development will replace dependency on oil for any meaningful development to take place.
That, being the focal point of the presentation of the book on Saro Wiwa, Fabeke disclosed that the Initiative is making a ten year plan in entrepreneurship as an alternative to oil so as to bring development to the area. The vision he said will reconnect Ogoniland again to the world. And in line with this, the initiative in collaboration with Global Entreprenuership City Network also launched a 10billion naira investment fund in Education, Agriculture, health, ICT development, youth empowerment, entrepreneurship skill development etc.
The essence of the conference according to him was to build an entrepreneurship platform that will transform Ogoni land into the Dubai of Nigeria by attracting investors. “Ogoniland has been in crisis for so many years but there are things we can do that can bring in funders, industrialists, not just oil but entrepreneurship to begin manufacturing that would generate employment for not just Ogoni people but Nigerians who qualify for the jobs. It is intended to also boost the economy of the country and turn things around.”
“Every year Nigeria graduates youths into the labour market which is the reason for entrepreneurship development skills. The inclusion of over 500 peace ambassadors some of which participated in the workshop, is a sign that Ogoni people want peace since no business thrives during war.” He intoned.
He also revealed that a High-tech Polytechnic is being set up as part of plans to breed a crop of skilled individuals as well as increase the literacy level of the area.