On the heels of the recent Appeal Court judgement, leaders of Ogoni in Rivers State, under the auspices of the Ogoni Liberation Initiative, have pledged to cooperate with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,(NNPC), in the exploration and production of oil and gas resources in their territory.
This follows nearly 30 years of rift between both parties.
The Ogoni leaders made the pledge at the Ogoni Liberation Day, which was held in Bori with the Managing Director of NPDC Mohammed Ali-Zarah as a guest.
The Convener of the Ogoni Liberation Initiative Douglas Fabeke commended the Court of Appeal for the judgement confirming NPDC as the valid operator of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11, stressing that the Ogoni people welcomed with joy, the intervention of the Federal Government and the takeover of the oil assets by NPDC following the judgement of the Appeal Court in Abuja.
The Ogoni leader described the judgment that handed OML11 to NPDC as liberation for the Ogoni people, stressing that the people of Ogoni had “looked forward to this freedom over the years.”
He further lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his administration’s commitment to the development of Ogoniland, noting that his people would support all efforts aimed at restoring the environment and exploring its huge natural resources for the benefit of all.
“The Ogoni people are ready for oil and gas business in the land to entrench development in partnership with the NNPC and the Federal Government of Nigeria through a transformed template and practical community development delivered by the host communities. The Ogoni people are ready to do all forms of businesses with the State, Federal and Global Corporate Communities for the development of their land, provided the business is anchored upon Ogoni development,” he said in a statement.
He submitted a communique on behalf of the people of Ogoni to the Federal Government as the request of the Ogoni people and as a condition for the mutual relationship between the people and NPDC.
The communique, among other things, requested that “the issue of clean-up in Ogoniland should be re-visited and the Government should mandate the handling agency to expedite actions and clean the land in tune with the UNEP Report’s recommendation or allow the Ogoni people to bring experts that would perfectly implement the recommendations of the UNEP Report to the letter.”
In his remarks, the Managing Director of NPDC Mohammed Ali-Zarah said the company understood the concerns and yearnings of the Ogoni people and shared in their pain.
He said NPDC and the Federal Government would work with the Ogoni people to bring development, employment and growth to the land, while remediating the environment and ensuring that future exploration and production activities did not impact negatively on the environment.
On the communique submitted by the Ogoni Liberation Initiative, signed by leaders of various communities making up Ogoniland, Ali-Zarah assured them that he would send the document to the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for onward transmission to the relevant quarters, including the Presidency.
Oil production operations were suspended in Ogoniland in the early 1990s due to disruptions caused by local unrest. The oilfields and other installations have since largely remained dormant.
Hope was, however, rekindled last week following an Abuja Appeal Court judgment that paved the way for NPDC to take over the operatorship of the oil assets in Ogoni from Shell.
The Appeal Court upturned August 23, 2019 ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which held that the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) was entitled to the renewal of the Lease on OML 11.