BY MADUABUCHI EFEGADI
Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) has again rejected a new deal in which the National Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) got Sahara Energy to resume production in the oilfields in Ogoni land from where Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria was forced out in 1993 following years of anti-Shell protests by the locals.
Under the new deal, NPDC, a subsidiary of the now commercialised Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), would enter the Ogoni oilfields using Sahara Energy, founded by Tonye Cole, Niger Delta homeboy, who today runs an international energy and infrastructure conglomerate with operations in over 42 countries across Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia.
About three years ago, the oil production arm of NNPC tried a surreptitious move into Ogoni oilfields, but its overt divide-and-rule tactic failed to pull through.
The deal becomes eminently crucial for cash-strapped Nigerian government with a debt-servicing bill rising by 109 percent to N896.56 billion in Q1 of 2022, which now gropes to raise revenue from any source to upscale its dwindled income. The government seeks to reverse some $178 billion revenue lost over 29 years since the Ogoni oilfields have remained abandoned.
According to oil and gas experts in the Niger Delta, the 30-year Ogoni crisis has cost the Nigerian government over $178 billion in lost oil revenue, excluding revenues from gas sales, since Shell’s forced exit in 1993.
The Nigerian authorities led by President Muhammadu Buhari had undertaken several efforts to have a go at the idle Ogoni oil wells, but had faced stiff opposition from the Ogonis at each turn.
MOSOP, a pressure group in Ogoni land, claims the deal to get NPDC and Sahara Energy as replacements for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria in Ogoni land without addressing the Ogoni environment remediation issue leading up to tackling the area’s development would likely escalate tension in the area and the Niger Delta by extension, thereby posing a real threat to national security.
The ethnic pressure group indicated it was not antagonistic to oil production resumption, saying it was willing to cooperate with peaceful methods of dialogue to resolve all issues, but urged the federal government to accept MOSOP’s position which recommended the establishment of an Ogoni Development Authority (ODA).
The group said working with its proposals would resolve the Ogoni problems.
Meanwhile, MOSOP has developed an ODA blueprint with implementation timelines to drive a new, peaceful and prosperous Ogoni. The group claimed the protracted Ogoni crisis has led to the death of over 4,000 people over three decades.
“Now is the best time to resolve the Ogoni problem through the operation of the Ogoni Development Authority,” said Fegalo Nsuke, factional MOSOP leader.
“It is important to note that as a people, the NPDC and Sahara Energy who sponsor conflicts in Ogoni are not acceptable options in this process and are both rejected by MOSOP as replacements for Shell in Ogoni,” Nsuke said.