THE Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, on Friday rejected the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, to take over the operatorship of the Oil Mining Lease, OML, 11, Ogoni oilfield, from the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC.
President Buhari, in a memo titled Operatorship of Entire Oil Mining Lease (OML)11, with reference number SH/COS/24/A/8540 signed by his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, had directed NNPC and NPDC to take over OML 11 by 2nd, May and ensure a smooth re-entry into the oil field given the delicate situation of Ogoniland.
The oil field OML 11 which lies in the southeastern Niger Delta and contains 33 oil and gas fields of which eight are producing as at 2017. In terms of production, it is one of the most important blocks owned by SPDC in Nigeria.
President of MOSOP, Fegalo Nsuke, in a statement, revealed that the decision, which has a crucial impact on the people, was taken without prior consultation and consent of the people of Ogoni.
“Indeed, it is appalling that despite the severe impact this directive will have on the lives of the Ogoni people, this decision had been taken without consultations with the Ogoni people nor were our inputs sought in such a crucial issue that affect our lives,” he said.
Nsuke asserted that MOSOP was worried about the directive by the government, because it poses real threats to the lives of Ogoni people, as it will likely result in state persecution and gross human rights abuses against the Ogoni people.
“MOSOP considers this decision to have been taken in bad faith and in a negation of the principle of free prior and informed consent which is fundamentally a requirement in dealing with issues affecting indigenous communities like the Ogoni people.
“Indeed, given our past and recent experiences with the Nigerian government over oil resumption, the height of which was the hanging of our compatriots and leaders in 1995 including Ken Saro-Wiwa, we expect sensitive issues of this nature to be widely discussed allowing time for proper consultations within Ogoni communities to avoid any conflicts which will jeopardize the safety and security of the lives of our people.
“MOSOP wonders why the government has failed to genuinely commit itself to dialogue and a peaceful resolution of the Ogoni conflicts years after receiving Ogoni demands as clearly outlined in the Ogoni Bill of Rights and will instead choose the paths that breed conflict in order to use its military might against innocent and peace-loving Ogoni citizens, whose lives have been rendered miserable by years of state repression and environmental devastation from Shell’s long years of pollution.
“MOSOP rejects the insensitivity of the Nigerian government to the pitiable situation of Ogoni dwellers who still grapple with the impact of massive pollution and while the Ogoni environment is yet to be cleaned from past spillages the government is only considering actions that will ignite conflicts and lead to a more deteriorating situation.”
He implored the International Community to prevail on the Federal Government to rescind the decision to forcefully resume oil production in Ogoniland to prevent war and persecution of Ogoni people.
“It is our hope that Nigeria will not be allowed to prosecute this planned and conscious move to violate the rights of its own citizens. It is our hope that the world will not remain silent over this danger faced by over one million Ogoni people,” he said.
The Ogoni oilfield, OML 11, is jointly owned by NNPC which has 55 percent shares stake in the OML 11 partnership, while Shell, Total and Agip own 30, 15 and five percent respectively.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.