Port Harcourt — Ogoni people under the auspices of African Indigenous Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development, AIFES, has listed conditions for discussions on the resumption of oil production in Ogoniland.
The conditions given by the group include community participation, effective community beneficiary agreement, a robust environmental management plan, and a sustainable development process that recognises the rights of the people to free, prior and informed consent.
Executive Director of AIFES, Mr Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, while marking the 2023 Ogoni Day celebration, maintained that Ogoni people were not against resumption of oil exploration, but any company coming in must satisfy tye aforementioned conditions, especially effective environmental management plan anchored within the context of the UNEP report.
According to the former MOSOP President, the UNEP Report states that for any discussion about oil resumption of oil exploration, then there should be an environmental, social, health impact assessment done in the entire Ogoni to see the current capacity of the green environment.
He also said Ogoni Bill of Rights, which is the fulcrum of Ogoni struggle was seeking for local autonomy for the Ogoni people within a federal Nigeria; a new economic structure that ensures the use of a fair proportion of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni development; and proper environmental management of Ogoni natural resources
“We reiterate the position that following the central role of oil in the Ogoni crisis, all outstanding legacy issues must be addressed and the consent of the people obtained before this can take place.
” It would be recalled that apart from the issue of environmental devastation that attended Shell’s operations in Ogoniland, the Ogoni people raised serious concerns about the total lack of participation of the people in the entire value chain of the oil industry, including employment; and the absence of a clear and focused Community Benefit Sharing Agreements and sustainable development process that recognize the rights of the people to Free, Prior and Informed Consent in accordance with global best practice.
“Whether it is a pipeline replacement or a new pipeline, the conduct of an Environmental, Social and Human Rights Impact Assessment is absolutely necessary.
“Beyond that, the UNEP report had clearly stated that for any future discussion about resuming oil production in Ogoniland, there would be need for the conduct of an Environmental Impact Assessment which must include socio-economic and health considerations. This has not been done”
Pyagbara who is also the Executive Director of Ogoni Democracy and Development Forum, said any discussion around oil resumption must be anchored around the context of renewable energy plan.
“We are not against resumption, but it should be done within the context of the best practices that are currently available in the world. Even as the world is also moving towards renewable energy as an attempt to address climate change.
“We cannot talk about solution of oil production in Ogoni without also talking about the energy mix. The big question is if in oil finishes, what would be the next energy plan for the ogoni people?
“And that is why the whole process of renewable energy has to be factored from the energy portion. Tomorrow when oil finish, these people will pack their bags and leave the land like it’s currently faced in Oloibiri today. So, if they are leaving tomorrow, what is the thing to fall back on in providing for the energy situation in Ogoni?”
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