From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Ogoni traditional rulers in Rivers State have told the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to approach the stakeholders of the area if it wants to resume oil exploration in the communities.
The monarchs declared that the stakeholders would not allow the oil company to enter Ogoni through the “back door.”
The decision was reached by the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers (SCOTR), Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and other stakeholders who had earlier opposed NPDC’s plan to resume operation, following its recent visit to Bori facilitated by the Ogoni Liberation Initiative (OLI). President of SCOTR, Gbenemene Tai Kingdom, King Godwin Gininwa, in a statement signed by the group’s publicity decretary, Gbenemene Tua-Tua Tai, Paramount Ruler of Kpite Tai, King Samuel L.A. Nnee, distanced Ogoni traditional rulers from the move to allow NPDC resume operations in the area, and called on members of the public to avoid the declaration of OLI.
It read: “The Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers of Ogoni has distanced itself from, and urged the Ogoni people and the general public to discountenance the reported declaration of a so-called Ogoni Liberation Initiative (OLI) authorising the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC) to commence oil production in Ogoni without the consent and approval of the people.
“On Monday, 23 August, 2021, the OLI reportedly brought the NPDC into Bori-Ogoni having sneaked the firm through the back door into Ogoni and authorised them to resume oil extraction in our communities, ignoring consultation and endorsement of the people
“The President of the Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers of Ogoni and Gbenemene Tai Kingdom, HRM King Godwin N.K. Gininwa, OFR, JP, said today, in his palace at Korokoro Tai: On behalf of the Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers of Ogoni and the entire traditional institution in Ogoni, we wish to state that we are unaware of the reported development.”
The statement noted that the traditional institution of Ogoni was not happy that OLI-led an oil firm into the area without due consultations, stressing that the people have not received the firm.
It read: “Thus, we frown at the activities and assertion of the pseudo body, Ogoni Liberation Initiative. Insofar as we are concerned, the Ogoni people, especially the Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers of Ogoni, MOSOP, KAGOTE, political class and the elite had not met and permitted that oil mining either by the NPDC or any other investor, should commence in Ogoni now. We, therefore, warn the OLI against actions that would throw Ogoni into crisis. For any company to be qualified for our social licence, it must qualify in all ramifications, including ability to meet our conditions spelt out in the Ogoni template regarding investment in Ogoni; technical competence, environmental protection and management, respect for our rights including acceptable corporate social responsibility among others.”