27 July 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — A pro-Ogoni group known as the Ken Saro Wiwa Associates, KSWA, says the Federal Government of Nigeria has approved to build a mega petrol station in Bori, the traditional headquarters of Ogoniland.
The National Coordinator of KSWA, Chief Gani Topba, in an interview with our correspondent said the idea was proposed by the people of Ogoni and has been approved by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
Topba who is a frontline activist in the country explained that a mega filling station, loading point, and tank farms will open up Ogoniland for investment and also create employment opportunities and wealth for the people.
While describing the Federal Government’s approval of the plan as a welcome development, he stated that majority of the petrol stations in Ogoniland are selling adulterated products, due to the high level of illegal bunkering in the area.
“The Federal Government has approved to build a mega filling station in Bori, Ogoniland. What happened is that we approached the Federal Government, that a mega filling station should be built in Ogoni and they have accepted our proposal.
“The reason behind the proposal is because the majority of the filling stations in Ogoni are selling illegally refined products. The mega filling station would discourage illegal bunkering as well as people from buying illegal bunkering products.
“We have proposed to the Minister of States for Petroleum Resources to put a loading point in any of these jetties such as Bodo waterfront, Kaa, or Kono waterside where barge can come in.
“Any of these areas that the Federal Government thinks will be best, can serve as a loading point, by so doing it would create wealth and opportunities for the people of Ogoni.
“Aside from the Rivers State Polytechnic, what else is in Ogoni? Ogoniland is like a graveyard so we are thinking of opening up the place for business. Tank farms, loading points, and a mega-filling station would create employment and you know there is serious bunkering going on in Ogoni.”
Topba who is also an environmentalist, further explained that the mega filling station will serve not just the people of Ogoni but the surrounding local government areas such as Andoni, Opobo/Nkoro, Ogu/Bolo and even the neighbouring local government areas in Akwa Ibom state.
Asked if the government’s approval is not just another gimmick to score political points in Rivers State, Mr. Gani Topba, said “It’s not a political gimmick because the idea was not conceived by the government.
“We have asked, the government has accepted and the next step now is for us to provide land for the government. I can assure you that in the next couple of weeks, a timeline for the project will be announced.”
Meanwhile, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, has rejected the proposed plan by the Federal Government to build a mega station in Ogoni, saying that such project was not the critical need of Ogoni people at the moment.
Publicity Secretary of MOSOP, Mr. Fegalo Nsuke, said Ogoni has made their demand clear that their critical needs at the moment were the provision of potable water for the people and the release of funds for the UNEP cleanup of Ogoniland.
However, the National Coordinator of KSWA, Chief Gani Topba, has said that the building of the mega station in Bori cannot stop the Federal Government from providing potable water in Ogoniland, saying the people of Ogoni should embrace the noble gesture while insisting on their other demands.
“Everybody knows that the provision of potable water was very important in the report by the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, and as a result, KSWA has been insisting on the provision of this potable water for the Ogoni people.
“I am surprised that the leadership of MOSOP is kicking against the building of a mega station that would impact positively on the people of Ogoni,” Topba said.