14 May 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – Oil-bearing communities in Ogoni, Rivers State, have raised the alarm over plans to exclude them from negotiations for the resumption of oil and gas exploration activities in Ogoniland.
This comes as the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, last week held a broad-based roundtable meeting in Abuja with various stakeholders and representatives of Ogoni ethnic nationality over discussion related to oil exploration in Ogoniand.
Stakeholders who were at the meeting included the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, RoboMichael Company Limited, Belemaoil Producing Limited, KAGOTE, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP and the Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates, amongst others.
But President of the Oil-Bearing Communities Traditional Rulers in Ogoniland, Chief Donald Gberesu, said he is disappointed that oil-bearing communities were not represented in the meeting held with Dr. Kachikwu.
Chief Gberesu said it was sad and embarrassing that oil-bearing communities in Ogoni, which are the major stakeholders, were sidelined, adding that plans were underway to engage lawyers to address the matter legally.
According to him, “Of recent, you can imagine that some Ogoni organisations connived and excluded oil-bearing communities from participating in a stakeholders’ meeting held with the Minister of State for Petroleum, where they have nominated companies and concluded on strategy to resume oil activity in Ogoniland.
“It is very sad and embarrassing and we are therefore compelled to engaged our lawyers to expressed our sadness on this sort of elements in Ogoniland, where human rights ought to have been practised at its optimum.”
Chief Gberesu also said Ogoni oil-bearing communities are already working with other host communities of oil and gas in the state, to protect and advocate the rights of oil bearing communities as critical stakeholders in the oil and gas industry.
“We have began discussion with other oil bearing communities in Rivers State and I have agreed to form the Rivers State Oil-Bearing Communities Development Council in order to check marginalization and other issues affecting oil bearing communities.
“The Ogoni oil bearing communities are being pushed to extinction and our rights trampled upon by money-minded leadership organisations in Ogoniland,” Chief Gberesu said.