By Kelvin Ebiri
Port Harcourt — Security concerns may have stalled a stakeholders meeting between the Federal Government and Ogoni leaders to discuss planned resumption of oil and gas exploration in the area.
Consequently, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) has enjoined President Muhammadu Buhari to stand on the side of humanity and the suffering Ogoni people and not renew the Oil Mining Licenses (OMLs) in Ogoniland.
The Guardian learnt from Ogoni activists that a meeting slated for next Monday between Federal Government’s representatives led by Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to discuss the possibility of resuming oil and gas activities had been shelved amid security concerns and opposition to the discussions.
It was also gathered that some activists had opposed the planned resumption of oil activities in Ogoni because the Federal Government and oil companies were yet to cleanup Ogoniland almost seven years after the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) revealed widespread devastation of the environment.
Ogoni activists have also insisted that such a meeting was not necessary since government had not deemed it appropriate to exonerate the late Ken Saro-Wiwa and others of murder charges leveled against them.
Another major source of contention was the choice of a community in Tai Local Council instead of Bori, traditional headquarters of the Ogoni for the meeting.
Confirming the postponement of the meeting, MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara, told The Guardian that he petitioned Kachikwu last week because the process of the aborted meeting was a departure from the agreement Ogoni people and oil multinationals had with government on May 3.
“The invitation they sent out assumed that Ogoni people agreed to commencement of oil production in Ogoniland, which is not correct. In the letter, they claimed that we agreed that oil production should start concurrently with cleanup of Ogoni, which is not correct,” he said.
Also, MOSOP’s Publicity Secretary, Fegalo Nsuke, stressed that Ogoni people remained opposed to the application for renewal of Oil Mining Licenses in Ogoniland.
Nsuke said Shell and its joint venture partners’ conduct in Ogoniland in the last 60 years had seriously jeopardised the safety and survival of over one million Ogoni people.
“MOSOP, therefore, urges President Buhari not to renew licenses for any company to operate the Ogoni oilfields, as the current lease would expire in 2019.
“We urge the President to stand on the side of humanity and the suffering Ogoni whose lives have been rendered miserable by Shell’s operations in Ogoniland polluting waters and destroying the ecosystem and livelihoods,” he said.