Port Harcourt — Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, on Thursday warned host communities that it was a must to provide an enabling environment for oil companies, such as the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, to operate in the state.
Governor Wike in reaction to criticisms from several quarters over his intervention on the 23months dispute between OML25 host communities and SPDC declared that no individual or community would be allowed to compromise the peace of the state.
Speaking at the Government House Port Harcourt during a meeting between SPDC and Mgbuesilaru Community of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area (another community in conflict with the oil firm), the Governor said his administration will always take decisive steps to promote peace in the state through key interventions in crisis-prone areas.
The Governor explained he has no business with SPDC carrying out its operation on OML25 in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of the state, outside the fact that the Federal Government has renewed their license and an enabling environment must be created for them to function.
According to him, “Like I have told the Kula community, I have no business about Shell operating. But if the Federal Government has given Shell the license, I have a duty to make sure that Shell operates.
“If they(FG) did not give Shell and they give the license to another person, I have a duty to protect that person. I have no business with Shell. Mine is to do the right thing and to provide the enabling environment.
“Let nobody claim that he has contact in Abuja or elsewhere. I will not shy away from my responsibility to do the right thing.”
Governor Wike said that he took the oath of office to make the majority of Rivers people happy, protect lives and property and develop the state while warning that the state will take it up with anyone who wants to cause a crisis in any part of the state.
“There is no single individual I cannot protect. Whether you are PDP, AAC or APC, it is my duty to protect you. Where things go wrong, I must come in”, he said.
On the Mgbuesilaru conflict, Governor Wike said that he invited the community leaders and SPDC officials to discuss the issues and resolve the dispute.
He said: “Before I became Governor, I do know that there was a problem at Mgbuesilaru community. I learned that an agreement was to be signed and there was a fracas”.
Also, Eze Oha Okporo Okwurusi Clan, Eze Morgan Amadi, said that the Mgbuesilaru community and Shell had an issue of outstanding rent in arrears of 23years, which led to a legal dispute that got to the Supreme Court.
Amadi said he was invited as a mediator and eventually worked for an out of court settlement between Shell and the community, accusing Shell of politicising the issue and refusing to sign the Out-of-court agreement on June 18, 2019.
He urged Governor Wike to prevail on SPDC to honour the out of court settlement and pay the community rent money, which is in arrears of 23 years.
General Manager, External Affairs of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr. Igo Weli, admitted that when the rent issue came up, Shell agreed with Eze Morgan Amadi that it would be nice to settle out of court in the interest of the community.
Weli said the company was committed to the peaceful settlement of the issue, saying that the only interest of the company was to do what is right.
“We want our place to grow. We want our place to develop. We want everything to be peaceful,” the SPDC General Manager said.