Saturday, 6 June 2015


                                      Martha Agbani Naenwi of the Ogoni People of Nigeria

 Martha in the United Nations General Assembly Hall at the UN Headquarters New York

 Martha making a strong point at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2015

Martha in the UNPFII session

                                Martha Agbani Naenwi making a presentation at a UNDP event

I met Martha Agbani Naenwi in person for the first time in New York City in April 2015. We came together for the now universally acknowledged important Tribal Link Project Access United Nations training for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; lead by world famous trainers like Andrea Carmen of the International Indian Treaty Council. Martha was now entering it for the first time as a student, and I was returning to it as an Alumni to mentor the 1st & 2nd year students.

Martha is a representative of "The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), which was founded in 1990 to unite all Ogoni people in the fight against marginalization.
MOSOP is an umbrella organization of ten different groups, which include among others the Federation of Ogoni Women's Associations (FOWA), the Council of Ogoni Professionals (COP), the National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS), the Conference of Ogoni Traditional Rulers (COTRA), etc. 
MOSOP strives for empowering the Ogoni people and other marginalized groups of peoples by developing actions and campaigns in the following areas: Indigenous Peoples Rights, Human Rights and conflict management, Environment and sustainable development, Social, Economic and political issues and actions. 

I had the privilege to ask Martha 4 important questions - and receive her answers to each of them:

Question 1 How did you personally benefit from the Project Access Training? Did it give you a better understanding of the UN process for example?  
The benefits I got from the training are enormous. I now have better understanding of the workings of the UN System, that the time frame for making speeches ranges from 7, 5 and 3 minutes for different categories of persons like the UN Agency, Country Representative and Joint Statements and 1 minute for individual statements.
Through the Project Access Training, I also learned that joint statements were better of as it represents the minds of a group of people and that it elates the level of importance of the propositions. 
One key thing that was learned that might not be very observable, but to me is important is the use of 's' in the word people. that it must be used - meaning inclusion. Beyond this, I learned that I have to take deep breath, raise my hand, and turn on the speaker to be recognized by the Chair of the forum, I must not leave the room until I am done with my statement or the meeting adjourned. That prior to the time of my statement, that I should sign in the statement. that I should make certain numbers of copies of the statement. More to this is that the Forum only serves as advisory to the ECOSOC, therefore statements made should have concrete recommendations for onward translation to the ECOSOC. 

Question 2 How will you share or spread or disseminate the information or knowledge you gained in the Project Access Training? How many networks, groups or communities for example - will you spread the news to, to show the multiplier effect.  
I planned to share the knowledge with at least 200 indigenous women directly, and would work with representatives of 6 kingdoms in Ogoni area. For Networks, we have the Niger Delta Universal Periodic Review, Business and Human Rights Working Group, Child Protection Network, Federation of Ogoni Women Association, National Youth Congress of Ogoni People, the leaders of the above mentioned groups shall be trained on the Working system of the UN and let them know the spaces and opportunities for engagements. 

Question 3 What are the major water issues facing your people today?  Is it pollution, dams, drought, flooding etc.? 
Our major issue is pollution and lack of potable water supply in homes and public places.

Question 4 Are you aware of any Climate change solutions that your own indigenous community can offer which could be useful for dominant society to apply today? 
We have been carrying out campaigns against cutting down of mangroves, which is called Mangrove conservation, and there is an on going activity to replant mangroves on swamps that have been deserted but this takes a long period of time to grow (usually about 10 years by some environmental experts).One campaign that I have been doing personally is the campaign against dumping of plastic bottles and sachets in drainage, as when it rains it all washes to the river, thus blocking the penetration of oxygen into the river for the sustenance of marine life. 

Thank you Damon, I hope my responses meets your demand.
Martha Agbani

Excellent speech by an Ogoni leader of MOSOP

Lest we forget the Ogoni HERO Ken Saro Wiwa

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