From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Commissioner of Agriculture, Fred Kpakol, said the choice of Governor Nyesom Wike, to lead a multi-consultative forum to discuss with Federal Government on the resumption of crude oil production in OML 11, is in the best interest of Ogoni people.
Kpakol said Ogoni stakeholders strategically chose the governor to lead them because he is one of the most recognised voices in Nigeria that cannot be ignored.
The commissioner stated this while appearing as a guest on Nigeria Info ‘Crossfire’ monitored in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
It would be recalled that Kpakol was one of the prominent Ogoni leaders who visited Wike last week at the Government House, Port Harcourt, to brief him on the outcome of the meeting between Ogoni stakeholders and President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja last month.
He said the issue of resumption of crude oil production in Ogoni is a very sensitive one, especially because the Ogoni struggle for justice and access to the proceeds from oil and gas from their land had claimed the lives of a generation of prominent Ogoni leaders like Ken Saro-Wiwa, Edward Kobani, Albert Badey and several others.
He said it was recognition of the above salient fact, that Ogoni stakeholders comprising of all serving National and State legislators, four past Vice Chancellors of universities of Ogoni extraction, all four Ogoni council chairmen, the presidents of MOSOP and KAGOTE, decided to get the state government involved in the multi-consultative process to avoid a possible breach of peace in Ogoni.
He said: “These are all key and stakeholders that can speak on behalf of the Ogoni, but they realised that they cannot do it alone. We must have to relate with the (State) government.”
He described as heartrending attempt by some disgruntled persons to politicise the choice of the State governor to lead a delegation that would negotiate with the federal government on the issue of resumption of oil production in Ogoni.
He said the governor, who has always been a proponent of community participation in oil exploration activities, is more suitable to lead the process because he understands the ordeal the Ogonis have been through.
Kpakol said the Ogoni nationality will not achieve much dealing alone with the Federal Government, hence, the decision to bring in the State government.
“I want us to differentiate between Governor Nyesom Wike as a person and as the Governor of Rivers State. The governor of this State owes to us the duty of care and we recognise that position. Governor Nyesom Wike is the governor of this State and he accounts for security and peace of this state.”
He said the people of Ogoni desperately need a selfless and compassionate leader like Governor Wike to serve as a catalyst to bring everybody together and speak with one voice.
Kpakol urged Ogoni people to be wary and resist those who are trying to bring political coloration to the genuine effort of stakeholders who nominated the State government to lead the negotiation process.
He stated: “When you talk about oil and Ogoniland, it is a very sensitive issue. So, we don’t jump into it or talk about it with any ethnic coloration or with any political bias.”