Believes adequate consultation not done yet
Cited non-conclusion of Ogoni clean-up
Petroleum experts advise NNPC starts PIA implementation with OML 11
The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has faulted the recent accord reached between the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and Ogoni Liberation Initiative (OLI) headed by Douglas Fabeke, a cleric, on the possible resumption of oil production at OML 11 located in Ogoni land.
According to MOSOP leader, Fegalo Nsuke, the Ogoni umbrella pressure group is rejecting the move by the Nigerian government to force oil production in Ogoni against the wishes of the people.
Nsuke noted that NPDC was yet to hold adequate consultations with the people on the operational modalities on OML 11, an oil field that had been a source of litigations since the forced exit of Shell Nigerian joint venture (JV) partner, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in 1993, due to Ogoni anti-Shell agitations.
Recently, an Abuja Appeal Court judgment affirmed that NPDC, the upstream subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was free to resume operatorship of the oil field, which had laid idle for nearly 30 years.
Last Monday in Bori, the Ogoni heartland, OLI, which claimed it constitutes of all Ogoni leaders, in an agreement with Mohammed Ali-Zarah, NPDC managing director, said they (Ogoni leaders) would cooperate with the NPDC in exploration and production of oil and gas resources in Ogoni land, which till date suffers environmental despoilation from more than half a century of spill from oil production activities by Shell.
According to Fabeke, the Court of Appeal judgement confirming NPDC as the valid operator of OML 11 was welcomed by Ogoni people with the intervention of the federal government takeover of the oil assets by NPDC.
He described the judgment that handed OML11 to NPDC as liberation for Ogoni people, stressing that the people of Ogoni have “looked forward to this freedom over the years.”
He further lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his administration’s commitment to the development of Ogoni land, adding that his people would support all efforts aimed at restoring the environment and exploring its huge natural resources for the benefit of all.
Fabeke declared that Ogoni leaders have resolved to eschew bitterness and work with the federal government to ensure that the people benefitted from the resources in their land.
“The Ogoni people are ready for oil and gas business in the land to entrench development in partnership with the NNPC and the Federal Government of Nigeria through a transformed template and practical community development delivered by the host communities. The Ogoni people are ready to do all forms of business with the state, federal and global corporate communities for the development of their land, provided the business is anchored upon Ogoni development,” he said.
Ali-Zarah, NPDC managing director, said the company understood the concerns and yearnings of the Ogoni people and shared in their pain, saying NPDC and the federal government would work with the people to bring development, employment and growth to the land, remediate the environment, and ensure that future exploration and production activities do not impact negatively on the environment.
But MOSOP, strongly holding that Ogoni demands for basic rights to survival including environmental rights, political and economic rights are justifiable, noted that the people should not be repressed with the force of state.
“It is our position that the Ogoni conflict which has cost an estimated 4,000 lives cannot be resolved through the use of force. While MOSOP has not been completely against oil production in Ogoni, we have demanded that the issue be properly negotiated to forestall any further killing of Ogoni people which the present moves are clearly directed at achieving,” Nsuke articulated the umbrella group’s stand.
He said, “MOSOP is outraged by the deception witnessed in Bori where Ogoni people were invited to a police station playground for a compensation briefing from Mr President, only to be addressed by the Managing Director of the NPDC notifying them of plans to resume oil production in Ogoni. We are deeply concerned that these deceptions are not in good faith; and speak very badly of the intentions of the government. We reject these approaches and call for a genuine process of negotiations to resolve all pending issues and usher in an era of mutual understanding.”
In this newspaper’s earlier story, we reported that NPDC through its parent company, NNPC, would need a convincing plan to win Ogonis on OML 11.
That convincing plan, oil and gas experts say, should be tapered with more of a ‘carrot policy’ rather than a ‘stick policy’.
Besides, the experts further advised that, in the light of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) implementation, the Nigerian federal government through the NNPC should start with OML 11, observing all relevant sections of the law relating to host communities trust fund (HCF), in this case, Ogoni.