Port Harcourt — The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, has kicked against the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC – a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC – as operator of Oil Mining Lease, OML, 11.
MOSOP Steering Committee, rising from its meeting in Port Harcourt, condemned the visit by NPDC officials to Ogoni last Monday, saying the company was already taking through the backdoor to resume oil exploration in Ogoniland without proper consultation with the people.
Publicity Secretary of MOSOP, Dr Young Nkpah, who read the resolutions from the meeting, said if NPDC meant well, it would have pursued consultations and secured the approval of the people before embarking on any other activity.
Nkpah said any company that wants to explore oil and gas in Ogoniland, requires the people’s social license to be able to operate the Ogoni concession of OML 11.
He also accused NPDC of having the worst community relations record in the world, adding that for the company to be accepted by the people, it must show verifiable evidence to the contrary.
“We wish to sound it loud and clear that Ogoni has not endorsed the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited, and we are afraid, it would be difficult for the community to do so. Frankly, MOSOP will not support the choice of NPDC as the operator of the Ogoni fields of OML 11.
“Weighing recent developments in Nigeria affecting the Niger Delta region especially Ogoni, against the rapidity with which the NNPC subsidiary rushed into the area, points to some unwholesome intent hence we urge all Ogonis to roundly reject the corporation.
“It is thus our position that although the company may have built its current action on the judicial decision, it certainly requires the people’s social license to be able to operate the Ogoni concession of OML 11.
“Hence we vehemently condemn its unwelcomed, hasty entry into our territory which is generating tension.The NPDC approach is a clear demonstration that it cannot be a good corporate citizen. MOSOP wishes to warn the company to realize the implications of her approach as it would be held accountable should there be any crisis in Ogoni.
“Our investigations in communities where it has operated revealed dreadful experiences, which we would not wish even upon an enemy.
“With her general lack of resources, NPDC cannot adequately takeover the block including Shell’s mountain of liabilities. Insofar as we are concerned, Shell and NPDC are two sides of the same coin, and Ogoni cannot afford to accept the replacement of Shell with her worst version in the industry.”
MOSOP said they are not opposed to resumption of oil exploration in Ogoniland, especially since it will curb poverty and unemployment, but it must be done with the prior consent and agreement of all Ogoni stakeholders.
“We would reiterate the position that MOSOP is not opposed to genuine economic investments including mining of crude oil in Ogonisince such ventures would help to address our challenges including unemployment, poverty and conflict.
“We are prepared to ensure an enabling environment and disposition supportive of such venture provided the investment would not only be human rights friendly but would allow it to flourish in ourcommunities.
“We insist that for any oil production to resume in Ogoni, it must be preceded with the free, prior and informed consent of the people strengthened via upright discussion that is clear, broad based and focused, which must accord importance to achieving community benefit sharing agreements, liability settlement agreements and maintainable development progression that recognizes the rights of the people to the said free, prior and informed consent in line with acknowledged international standards.
“Nonetheless, we would advise prospecting investors to genuinely seek to know the authentic or accredited representatives of the people in order not to fall victim of predators positioning to satisfy their stomach infrastructure. As it is of fact, MOSOP is the only Ogoni organization with mandate of the people to speak and act on their behalf and that mandate has not been withdrawn.”