Port Harcourt — The presidential directive to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to take over OML 11 from Shell to pave way for resumption of oil activities in Ogoni has irritated some groups in the region.
Describing the plan as insensitive and ill-advised, the groups warn that it is capable of inflaming conflict in the volatile area.
Groups kicking against the Federal Government's decision include the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and We the People.
MOSOP president, Legobosi Pyagabara, said that the directive to NNPC to take over from Shell the OML 11 not later than April 30, 2019 and ensure smooth re-entry into Ogoni by May 2, "has huge implications", particularly as it relates to resumption of oil production in OML 11.
Pyagabara observed that the presidential directive was strewn with so much impunity, as it fails to take into cognisance the history of the Ogoni oilfields in the OML 11, in view of the relationship between key stakeholders like Shell, government and the Ogoni, which makes the question of successful resumption of oil production in a month's time unacceptable.
"While MOSOP is not opposed to resumption of oil production in Ogoniland, we wish to state categorically that resumption of oil production can only take place after an acceptable and genuine broad-based discussion with the Ogoni had taken place and agreement reached on issues that border on benefit-sharing, community participation in the industry and proper environmental management plan for Ogoniland.
"It is only when these have been done that MOSOP believes resumption of oil production can be undertaken in Ogoniland," he said.
HOMEF executive director, Nnimmo Bassey, and his We the People counterpart, Ken Henshaw, described as worrisome government's decision to resume oil extraction in Ogoni when the pollution of the last decades is yet to be cleaned and the recommendations of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) not fully complied with.
Also MOSOP has demanded that the policemen who killed its member, Dr. Ferry Gberegbe, at a collation centre in Bori, Rivers State, should be fished out and prosecuted.
Pyagabara said it was sad and regrettable that Gberegbe, who was a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agent during the governorship election, had become yet another victim of the warfare called elections.
He noted that it was incomprehensible that with the political denials that Ogoni suffered at all levels of political representation in Nigeria, the oil-rich ethnic nationality still suffers the highest casualties during elections.
"It is in this light that we call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the authorities concerned to, without further delay, set up a mechanism to commence full investigation into the shootings and killings at Bori and environs during the election and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book," he said.