OML-11: Ogoni names negotiating team as coast may not be clear for NPDC as highest traditional rulers kick

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·Ogoni groups want to be the ones to grant ‘social license’

·Monarch names MOSOP, KAGOTE, Political Class, Monarchs Forum, etc as bodies to discuss with NPDC

By Ignatius Chukwu

For the first time in 38 years, hints have emerged for those trying to penetrate Ogoni for investments and oil prospecting to get an idea of who to talk with. So far, every negotiation had always crashed as other groups would come out to disclaim the outcome.

Even the negotiation and agreement by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) with Ogoni Liberation Initiative (OLI) has been disowned by group after group. But, the coast may not be clear after all for the return of oil activities in Ogoni (Oil Mining Lease 11) after 38 years as the highest body of traditional rulers in the four local council areas in Ogoni has taken a hostile position.

The Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers of Ogoni has distanced itself from, and urged the Ogoni people 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.

The biggest problem in trying to execute any project in Ogoni since 1993 seems to be the definition of ‘approval of the people’, because whatever approval any organization obtains is rejected as not coming from the people .

The court had finally ruled Shell out of OML 11 renewal and finally handed the oil field which stretches from Oyigbo through Ogoni to Bonny Island.

The monarchs recalled how on Monday, 23 August, 2021, a group, Ogoni Liberation Initiative (OLI) reportedly brought the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company  (NPDC) into Bori (Ogoni). The monarchs said it sneaked the firm )NPDC) through the back door into Ogoni and authorised them to resume oil extraction in the communities, allegedly ignoring consultation and endorsement from the people.

Reacting to the development today, the President of the Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers of Ogoni and Gbenemene Tai Kingdom, the King, Godwin N.K. Gininwa, said the traditional rulers were not aware of such authorization.

He said the monarchs frowned at the utterances of the OLI, saying the Ogoni people especially the monarchs, the Movement of the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and other groups such as the academic class, the political class, and the elites had not met and permitted that oil mining business either by the NPDC or any other investor to commence in Ogoni now. “We therefore warn the OLI against actions that would throw Ogoni into crisis”.

He went on: “For any company to be qualified for our social license, 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 amongst 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. That at an appropriate time an all-inclusive meeting of the people shall be convened to deliberate on this sensitive matter and a resolution representing the common interest of the people reached and made public.”

The monarch warned 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 quasi groups and commercial activists that are just out to dupe unsuspecting investors. Furthermore, we counsel the NNPC subsidiary to desist from under hand tendencies that would rather decimate its reputation while her desires remain unmet”.

He said the MOSOP is not divided but united under the leadership of Prince Biira as its President. KAGOTE, the apex Elitist social-cultural organization of Ogoni people led by its President, Emmanuel Deeyah, and the Political Class led by the Barinada Mpigi, alongside the traditional rulers are all recognised leadership organizations working together for the total emancipation and development of the people and we call on the people to support and cooperate with the leadership.

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