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 have 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 had earlier opposed to NPDC’s plan to resume operation, following its recent visit to Bori, as facilitated by the Ogoni Liberation Initiative (OLI).
President of SCOTR Gbenemene Tai Kingdom, HRM King Godwin Gininwa, in a statement after a meeting, which was signed by the Publicity Secretary of SCOTR, Gbenemene Tua-Tua Tai, Paramount Ruler of Kpite Tai, HRH (Sir) King Samuel LA Nnee, said Ogoni people had disowned OLI.
The statement distanced Ogoni traditional rulers from the move to allow NPDC to resume operations in the area and called on members of the public to avoid the declaration of OLI.
‘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 NK 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 further 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.
‘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 the 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.
‘We would use this opportunity to call on all sons and daughters of Ogoni to be calm and cautious and resist all lures or temptations to rush into any engagement with any company or individual with regards to oil production resumption or any other investment in Ogoni.’
It further warned investors not to enter Ogoni through the back door, adding that the people must be duly consulted by prospective investors.
‘However, we would warn prospective investors including the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited to avoid passing through the back door as that would not yield any valuable result. We would likewise caution the indigenous corporation and other potential investors to beware of quasigroups and commercial activists that are just out to dupe unsuspecting investors.
‘Furthermore, we counsel the NNPC subsidiary to desist from underhand tendencies that would rather than accord it encomiums, would decimate its reputation while her desires remain unmet.
‘Nonetheless, we wish to use this opportunity to reaffirm for the umpteenth time that the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) is not divided, but united under the leadership of Prince Biira as its president.’