23 January 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – Two indigenous oil firms, Belemaoil Producing Limited and RoboMichael Limited, have been accused of sponsoring local groups in Ogoniland to spark fresh crises, in a bid to illegally commence oil production in the area through the back door.
The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, said the two oil firms are allies of the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, and that the oil company was using them to further divide the people in a bid to defeat the collective wishes of the Ogoni people.
Publicity Secretary of MOSOP, Mr. Fegalo Nsuke, who levelled the allegation said the situation is that the indigenous companies now sponsor locals against themselves with the result that those in favour of Belemaoil focus their media war against RoboMicheal while those in favour of RoboMicheal are critical of the pro-Belema group.
Nsuke regretted that the Federal Government prefered a divide and conquer approach driven by Shell, BelemaOil, NPDC and RoboMicheal Limited, whereas MOSOP had prescribed a multi-stakeholder dialogue driven by a negotiator, involving the parties to the conflict namely, the government, Shell and MOSOP, representing the Ogoni people, as a way out of the Ogoni crisis .
He said the oil industry understands MOSOP’s obstinacy to the issue of resumption of oil activities in Ogoni, hence the sponsorship of local actors and groups to carryout a campaign of calumny against MOSOP in a bid to break through.
“Most recently SPDC’s allies in the Nigerian oil industry particularly BelemaOil Producing, RoboMicheal Limited and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd, NPDC, had been vigorously sponsoring local actors and groups to cause division in Ogoni.
“One major strategy of the oil industry and the groups they sponsor is deceit; currently there is a battle between the supporters of RoboMichael and those of Belema Oil. Those who are sponsored by Belema Oil see nothing good in those sponsored by RoboMichael and vice versa.
“While the government and the oil industry continues to disregard the call for a dialogue, Shell alone has spent on image building, over $50 million which should have gone a long way in building the confidence of the Ogoni people in the lazy-loaded clean-up programme being frustrated by lack of funds.
“Belemaoil is doing the same thing, donating loads of rice and money to buy favour from perceived key local actors. RoboMicheal and the NPDC are not different. Very recently, MOSOP uncovered a fraudulent communication from a group sympathetic to RoboMicheal attempting to misrepresent its position and had to disown the falsified statement.
“BelemaOil and RoboMicheal are currently the principal actors sponsoring crises in Ogoniland and should be held responsible for any breakdown of the peace currently prevailing in the area. But this is in sleek alliance with Shell and a tacit endorsement from the Nigerian government whose military is continually deployed to repress any resistance seeing to project the true wishes of the Ogoni people,” Nsuke said.
MOSOP, however, insisted that the Ogoni struggle was not just about crude oil, but about the rights of the people of Ogoni as a distinct ethnic group within Nigeria whose resources have been plundered by the government and Shell over the years.
Nsuke urged President Muhammadu Buhari to face the realities of the Ogoni situation, saying that the continuous denigration of political, economic and environmental rights of the Ogoni people with an attempt to sponsor discordant voices through the oil industry operators has only aggravated the problem.