A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Controversy trails call for SPDC’s return to Ogoni

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*Chief Gani Topba, National Coordinator of Ken Saro Wiwa Associates, spokesman of the Ogoni people and convener of the Ogoni General Assembly, addressing the press.

Mkpoikana Udoma

08 February 2019, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The 14-days ultimatum issued by some Ogoni groups for the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, SPDC, to open negotiations towards her return to Ogoniland for oil and gas exploration activities, has begun to generate reactions.

Recall that some Ogonis under the auspices of Conscience of Ogoni People, COOP, recently called on SPDC to urgently begin negotiations for resumption of oil exploration activities in Ogoniland, saying the era of agitation was over as the people were now prepared to engage Shell in dialogue.

National Leader of COOP, Chief Gani Topba said it was improper for the people to continue to remain poor and impoverished, while crude oil deposits in their land remain untouched.

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But another group known as Oil Bearing Communities in Ogoniland have kicked against the call made by COOP for SPDC to renegotiate and resume oil exploration in Ogoniland.

President of the Oil-Bearing Communities Traditional Rulers in Ogoniland, Chief Donald Gberesuu, said the resolutions reached at the general assembly convened by COOP, does not represent the views of the oil-bearing communities.

Gberesuu explained that no proper consultation was done before the general assembly of Ogoni people was convened.

“The decision taken by COOP, particularly the endorsement of the Shell Petroleum Development Company to resume operation in Ogoni, which was transmitted by its general assembly, was privately taken and without any form of consultation.

“The call does not represent the views and aspirations of the Ogoni oil-bearing communities.

“I am embarrassed each time the Ogoni oil bearing communities are taken for granted. We are autonomous communities with responsible leadership and cannot be subservient to any business person or group of persons, this should be taken note by any Ogoni person.”

Gberesuu also called on the people of Ogoni to come together and fashion out ways of bringing development to Ogoniland, instead of always going for the highest bidders.

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“My advice has always been that the people of Ogoni should preserve the strength of character, we shouldn’t be acting like musicians who are always here and there in one moment with too hungry pockets looking for the highest bidder. Instead we should be thinking of growing our economy and participate in it.”

Meanwhile, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, SPDC, has maintained that it has no intention of going back to Ogoni for oil and gas exploration activities.

SPDC’s Media Relations Manager, Mr. Bamidele Odugbesan, said: “SPDC has not produced oil and gas in Ogoniland since 1993 and has no plans to resume production.”

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