Port Harcourt — The host communities of OML 25 have rejected the planned peaceful dialogue by the Rivers State Government to intervene in the 22-months shutdown of Belema flow station and gas plant operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC/NNPC JV in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of the state.
Kula Council of Traditional Rulers, as well as chiefs, elders and youths of OML25 host communities namely Belema, Offoinama, and Ngeje, at a press briefing in Port Harcourt, said Governor Nyesom Wike, has sent an invitation to stakeholders for a meeting to resolve the two years face-off between SPDC and the communities.
Spokesperson of the Kula Council of Traditional Rulers, Chiefs Fiala Okoye-Davies, who read the communique, accused the governor of bias in inviting a perceived enemy of the host communities to a meeting aimed at resolving the protracted dispute between SPDC and the host communities.
Okoye-Davies said the matter was currently before the Presidency appealed to Governor Wike to exercise restraint and caution on the matter.
He wondered why the governor has not intervened in the over 26years shutdown of OML11 by the people of Ogoni but was quick to intervene in OML25 dispute which according to him, was barely two years old.
“The so-called intervention of the state government on OML25 is meddlesome, as the issue is on the executive list and not on the concurrent list of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We, therefore, plead with His Excellency to exercise restraint and caution on this matter.”
“It is our view that this meeting is gathering of the state governor and his political allies and not the affected host communities and their leaders.
“The so-called intervention of the governor casts a shadow of a doubt to the sincerity of the government in resolving the issue. The governor has never intervened on the Ogoni shutdown of OML11 for over 26years, the question is why the sudden interest to resolve the shutdown of less than two years?”
The Kula Council of Traditional Rulers also called on the Federal Government to prevail on the Rivers State Governor to have restraint in its move to intervene on the matter, so it does not snowball into crises in the area.
“This matter is being handled by the Presidency and is currently before the office of the Vice President for dialogue, negotiation and peaceful resolutions which the Rivers State Government is fully aware. We further view this meeting as an invitation to the resurgence of violence and anarchy in Kula Kingdom, which is unarguably the most peaceful environment in Rivers State.
“In the light of the foregoing, we call on the Federal Government and all security agencies to prevail on the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to have a rethink in his approach and intervention in OML 25 protracted issue between the host communities of Belema, Offoinama, Ngeje, and SPDC.”
Also, an indigene of c communities and Secretary of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Anabs Sara-Igbe, said the intervention of Governor Wike in OML 25 shutdown was belated while accusing SPDC of walking out on a meeting called by NNPC in Abuja to resolve the issue.
“This is a matter that is already before President Muhammadu Buhari. Mr. President has delegated this matter to the Vice President, who in turn delegated to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
“We are on it, we have met with NNPC and Shell walked out on us, NNPC, NAPIMS and the host communities. So we believe it is too late for the governor to intervene at this point. So even his intervention does not make any difference because we’re not fighting nor breaking pipelines nor breaking the law.
“All we are saying is we don’t need Shell in our communities, there are other good operators out there. We have an operator who is doing well in other places, let him come and operate in our community so that he will develop the community.”
For his part, the President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, Mr. Sokubo Sara-Igbe, who is also an indigene of the area, said the decision of Governor Wike to intervene on the matter, though welcomed was misguided.
Sara-Igbe called on the governor to first of all address the age-long Ogoni OML11 issues before Kula and OML 25 since the latter was just two years old.