From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Ogoni people in Rivers State and Owaza community in Asa, Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State, have vowed to resist the Sahara Energy company from entering into any business that has to do with the Oil Mining Licence (OML) 11 operation.
Also, the OML 11 communities have appealed to the federal government to come to their aid and save them from untold hardship and deprivation.
The communities made the statements yesterday, at the inauguration of Ogoni Asa Imo River OML 11 Oil Producing Communities executive, which took place at the palace of the Eze Oha 1 of Etitioha Owaza Oil and the Gas Ground Kingdom.
In his speech, the chairman of the newly inaugurated executive, Gani Topba, noted the plights of Ogoni ethnic nationality and Owaza community, who are the owners of OML 11, in the hands of multinational oil companies.
Topba said that the Rivers and Abia oil-producing communities have not given social license to any company to resume oil exploration on their land, although they had resolved with Federal Government on the Niger Delta Petroleum Company (NDPC).
He warned that, while the communities had given consideration for NDPC, the oil firm must do the needful by proper consultation with the owners of OML 11.
“There have been agitations in this part of OML 11 when Shell License was about to be renewed. We all gathered here, and did a meeting demanding that Federal Government should not reissue the license,” Topba said.
“We all agreed that the federal government should give the license to Niger Delta Petroleum Company (NDPC). And, today, the Federal Government has given NPDC the license. Now, there are issues that surround it and they are a lot. The community supported NDPC, but NDPC needs to have a proper discussion with the community.
“NPDC has taken over the facility but has not had talks with the community. But, they are having an agreement with Sahara Energy to enter the place. How could you not do an agreement with another company and you want to bring in another company?
“So, are they undermining the interest of the community? The community will not accept Sahara energy, because they had an agreement with NDPC.
“So, NPDC needs to come up with their plan and discuss it with the community. Then, the communities will now tell them about their own interest.
“Before any other partner with NDPC, the community and NDPC will have an agreement. We have rejected Sahara energy totally. So, if NDPC wants to come here, they should drop Sahara Energy.”
Earlier, the paramount ruler of the Owaza community, Eze Obioma Nworgu, complained that for the past 50 years of operation of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), they have nothing to show for the existence of the multinational oil company.
The monarch lamented that despite their contribution to the economy of the nation, they still suffer a lack of good healthcare, education facilities, youth employment, good roads and other infrastructural development, which have contributed to insecurity in the area.
He urged the federal government to save the oil-producing communities, particularly Owaza, from untold hardship.