From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has given a seven-day ultimatum to the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to stop further negotiations on the resumption of oil production or face stiff resistance.
MOSOP also warned that Federal Government should not adopt any inimical strategy to plunge Ogoni communities in crisis in order to back out from the clean-up of Ogoniland.
MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara, who spoke yesterday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on the the recent moves by Shell and NPDC to resume oil production, said no form of oil exploration would take place without first, cleaning up the polluted environment.
Pyagbara said there should be broad-based discussion with Ogoni people before such business could take place, accusing Shell of adopting divide-and-rule tactics to resume operations.
He said: “In the recent months, there had been intense and deliberate attempts by the oil company to return to the Ogoni oil fields through the back doors, without any broad-based discussion with the Ogoni people, with the potential of igniting a blaze of conflict and violence that will skin this forceful attempt to return to the area.
“Shell and NPDC are keen on using their divide-and-rule tactics to polarise the Ogoni community and pit them against one another. This approach is completely condemnable and detestable and will be resisted by the Ogoni people.
“It is disappointing because we have seen divisive efforts to re-enter Ogoni for oil production over the last decade, all of which have ended in failure. In each case, the lack of transparency and attempts to deal with local actors in isolation was the fundamental failure.
“It is instructive to note that, while the government of Nigeria commissioned the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) to carry out an assessment of Ogoniland, whose report had called for a total clean-up and restoration of Ogoniland, it is disappointing that the same government is going about trying to force its way through the back doors, to commence operations in Ogoniland without addressing the key concerns that had been raised by the Ogoni people across the years.
“Shell and NPDC should cease engagements focused on resuming oil production in Ogoni within seven days. If there is credible interest in resuming production, the Federal Government and the respective oil companies should, together, initiate a broad-based discussion with representation from all sectors of Ogoni community.”
Meanwhile, Shell spokesman, Joseph Ollo-Obari, told newsmen that the firm “stopped oil production in Ogoni in 1993 and has no plan to return to oil production there.”