Port Harcourt — The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, has said that the planned acquisition of Ogoni oilfields in OML11 by the Rivers State Government, without broad consultation and agreement with the Ogoni people is null, void and cannot stand.
Recall that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, recently announced that the State Government has acquired the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, SPDC’s 45percent stake in OML11 situated in Ejama, Ebubu community in Eleme Local Government Area and other adjoining communities of the State.
Governor Wike said the State decided to acquire SPDC’s 45percent stake due to lots of revenue lost to the Federation Account accruable to the 55percent stake of the Federal Government in OML11, due to non-production of nearly 250,000bpd of its crude oil potentials, equalling one sixth of the country’s total output per day.
But the apex Ogoni socio-cultural group at its National Executive Council meeting in Port Harcourt, said it was insensitive and insulting the manner in which government officials at all levels treat the matter of OML11 which comprises the Ogoni oilfields.
President of MOSOP, Legborsi Pyagbara, said whereas oil production continues to take place in other fields within OML11, it is only in Ogoni oilfields that oil operations ceased since April 1993, hence, the only field with subsisting conflict with Nigeria and SPDC is the Ogoni oilfields inside OML 11.
Pyagbara disclosed that the people of Ogoni are not opposed to the resumption of oil production in Ogoniland, but that Ogoniland must be treated as an area of subsisting struggle against injustice meted against them by the Federal Government and Shell Petroleum Development Company.
He called for a reconciliation process to look into the issues that had been raised over the years and proffer a process of national healing, reconciliation and addressing of legacy issues arising from the decades of environmental degradation, political marginalization and repression.
The National Execute Council of MOSOP noted that international human rights law had affirmed the rights of ownership of Indigenous peoples over their lands, territories and natural resources.
“MOSOP condemns the continuing humiliation of the Ogoni people by state actors particularly with the brazen, insensitive, outrageous, dismissive and insulting manner in which government officials at all levels treat the matter of OML 11 which comprises the Ogoni oilfields.
“First, it was Chief Abba Kyari’s leaked letter in March 2019 directing NNPC to commence plans for the resumption of oil production in Ogoniland in October 2019, and now Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State reporting of a purported acquisition of OML11 and the eventual take-off of oil resumption in 15months.
“All these done without the slightest consultation with the Ogoni people or their free, prior and informed consent sought as guaranteed under international human rights law.
“Where Ogoni rights of ownership have not been respected, all purported midnight acquisitions, divestments or licensure of the Ogoni oilfields without broad consultation and agreement with the Ogoni people are null and void and cannot stand. Ogoniland is not for Sale. The inalienable resources of Ogoniland cannot be expropriated by private interests masquerading as public interest.”
MOSOP maintained that Ogoni was older than Nigeria, was never conquered and would continue to hold its ancestral domain recognized under international human rights law to its lands, territories, resources, culture and spirituality.
Pyagbara stressed that if the Rivers State Governor was trying to dance on the misery and penury of compatriots from Ejama, Ebubu community who have endured a long struggle against SPDC since 1992 without any government support, then the dance steps are faulty and the drummers living in fairyland.
He also described the Rivers State Government’s declaration of interest in acquiring Ogoni oilfields as a big surprise; and urged the people of Ejama, Ebubu community to remain resolute and resilient and not to be distracted by any political intervention until justice is done to their case and the financial redress obtained.
“The secrecy and inconsistencies surrounding this latest purported acquisition, particularly as inquiries at critical institutions relating to the oil industry such as the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, DPR, NAPIMS and even SPDC indicated absolute ignorance about how this so-called acquisition was carried out is legendary, and leaves much to be desired.
“The Ogoni people have always insisted that they are stakeholders in the ownership, exploitation and utilization of the natural resources found in the bowels of their land. That is the core of the Ogoni struggle.
“In pursuance of this position, a Committee was set up to establish a template that would be the basis of petroleum operation in Ogoniland. The Ogoni people are about to discuss the report of that Committee.
“Any future discussion about resumption of oil production in Ogoniland must address the issue of benefit sharing between the community, the government and the prospective oil company, the issue of community participation in the entire value chain of the industry and the emplacement of a clear Environmental Management Plan for the fragile Ogoni ecosystem.”