Leonard Fong Roka
When gathering for Bougainville in the PNG political pig then the Solomon Island people of Bougainville should be always the tail that is always moving. They are always unstable within the PNG state since the 1960s and this can be correlated again in the post crisis scene to the stability or instability in the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) of the day.
History should not be ignored by myopic thinkers of Bougainville since it has some joules to pacify the Bougainville problem once and for all that the current PNG and Bougainville leadership neglect as they pursue the path of a reconciliatory politics invented by religion and westernization to cover their 15th to 19th century brutality on the colonized world.
On this note Bougainville politics had been a reconciliatory one since the mid-1990s with the late Joseph Kabui, inaugural president of the ABG, and the PNG government-assassinated premier of the Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG), late Theodore Miriung.
Both deceased leaders succeeded not because PNG (PNG was running after Sandline Mercenaries to take Panguna mine back, then) was interested in peace with Bougainville but rather because Bougainvilleans in the political divide created by the leadership of late Francis Ona, the 1988 rebellion leader, since 1990 due to his lack of political power to bring about change across Bougainville as PNG fled the Solomons.
Reasonably PNG had abandoned Bougainville in 1990 but Bougainville’s immature leadership had it having a fraction of influence over obvious areas and persons since the 1990 Kavieng Agreement signed by leaders from North Bougainville to get weeping PNG government back onto Bougainville through providing services on Buka Island (not Bougainville).
Bougainville was new in the field of western political culture of the ever changing 21st century where colonization came in with the three ‘Gs’ that are gold (money), glory (building empire) and god (religion) to take over the world and Bougainville.
Thus the nurturing process of leadership on Bougainville had no stable foundation but rather a hijacked and confused one where society was in disarray and taken over by a sudden and massive intrusion of the human minds in Bougainville by Eurocentrism.
The characteristics of most cargo cult movements across Bougainville should proof the awkward nature of complications; to the people, religion, politics, economy and society were mingled up to dismantle their reception and interpretation of the changes.
In today’s autonomy status Bougainville have powers in its own decision making processes but the sources of direction—to whom leadership ought to align more to—has cause much political, economic and social stagnation for the Solomon island people of Bougainville.
The ABG was created as a peace deal and thus has numerous stakeholders to be answerable to. Top on the list is the culprit PNG government, the UN, and so on. It is here that the internal Bougainville society turns to conflict over its own political passage.
Since the 1960s reasons for Bougainvillean protests were multi-headed. Bougainville had concerns over Rio Tinto destruction of environment, BCL royalty inequity, BCL and PNG social, economic and political exploitation of Bougainville resources and its people, independence to highlight a few.
The 1988 militancy move by late Francis Ona and his followers were an amalgamation of the said concerns thus Bougainville leadership was a multifaceted one; though broadly painted as a political one, it was a collection of issues compressed to look as one political struggle of freedom for the northern Solomons.
This problematic leadership minds had now entered the Bougainville government, the ABG. No matter how blessed with wisdom a leader is, the scar of historical basis of political thinking for Bougainville is prevalent.
Bougainville leaders have to choose who they are to uphold in their decision making. The many issues of concern for Bougainville leadership can aligned to root sources of the crisis, the ex-combatants, the dictates of the peace agreement, PNG interest, foreign investors, BCL, interest groups and so on. Which one of these will a leader have when making his decisions?
So far the ABG leadership have suffered to decide whom to listen to and follow suit.
The Bougainville government of the day had narrowed its approach sources often more to economic recovery and clashed with issues that nurtured the conflict on Bougainville. This is well evident with the Momis-Nisira government and their Asian engagements where so far had clashed with ordinary Bougainville people.
Momis-Nisira government had narrowly gone into partnership with Asian businesses and individuals to get the Bougainville economy up however all their deals are now ending in Asians taking over the cottage industry in Buka Town that conflicts with Section 24 of the Bougainville Constitution that talks about ABG would only support Bougainvillean initiatives in any development activities like business.
Such leadership problem on Bougainville is rooted in the notion of political nurturing under colonization. Bougainville and Bougainvilleans were not designed through religion, education and so on to grow and advance in the systems westernization had to enforce.
Change on Bougainville is possible if the leadership is aligned to the people and decide what path to follow for the good of the people and not the non-Bougainvillean influences and stakeholders.