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Nigerian govt to resume oil production in Ogoni

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Oil production was suspended in Ogoniland in the 1990s.

The Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) Limited says it is ready to commence production in abandoned oil wells to the benefit of the community and the country.

NPDC is a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Managing Director of NPDC, Mohammed AliZarah, spoke at an event by the Ogoni Liberation Initiative, according to a statement signed on Tuesday by Garba Deen Muhammad, Group General Manager (Public Affairs), NNPC.

He said that the company understood the concerns and yearnings of the Ogoni people and shared in their pain.

According to him, the NPDC and the Federal Government (FG) would work with the communities to ensure their environment was remediated and the activities did not impact negatively on their environment but bring them development, employment and growth.

He said the organisation of the event by the Ogoni Liberation Initiative and the turn-up of various people including traditional rulers, youths and women had buoyed the confidence of the company

This, he described as ‘an act of love and solidarity.

“Indeed, this is a clear testimonial and demonstration of a strong cordial relationship that has existed between us over the years.

“This, for us is our social licence to operate in this peace loving community,’’ he said

Mr AliZarah observed that it was in the best collective national interest of the country to speedily restore the environment of Ogoniland, and create the needed condition for the social economic development of the communities.

“As a viable partner, we would join you to pursue the greater good of our people and the nation.

“We stand with you and would work with you to achieve this within the shortest possible time,” he said.

On the communique submitted by the Ogoni Liberation Initiative signed by leaders of various communities that make up Ogoni land, AliZarah assured them that he would send the document to the management of the NNPC for onward transmission to the relevant quarters including the President.

Earlier, Douglas Fabeke, the Convener and leader of the Ogoni Liberation Initiative, organisers of the event, said the Ogoni people welcomed with great joy the intervention of the FG and the takeover of the oil exploration sites by NPDC following the judgement of the Appeal Court in Abuja.

He described the judgment and subsequent takeover of the sites by NPDC as liberation for the Ogoni people.

According to him, the people of Ogoni have looked forward to this freedom over the years.

He assured the FG that the people of Ogoni would support all efforts aimed at restoring and exploring its huge natural resources for the benefit of the people.

“The Ogoni people are ready for oil and gas business deal in the land to entrench development in partnership with the NNPC/ Federal Government of Nigeria through a transformed template and practical community development delivered by the host communities.

“The Ogoni people are ready to do all forms of businesses with the State, Federal and Global Corporate Communities for the development of their land, provided the business is anchored upon Ogoni development,” he said.

He called on the leaders of the Ogoni to eschew bitterness and work with the FG to ensure that the people benefitted from their resources.

He submitted a communique on behalf of the people of Ogoni to the FG at the request of the Ogoni people and as a condition for the mutual relationship between the people and NPDC.

The communique, among other things, requested that the issue of clean-up in Ogoniland be re-visited and the Government should mandate the handling agency to expedite actions and clean the land in tune with the UNEP Report’s recommendation.

It also requested to allow the Ogoni people to bring investors that would perfectly implement the UNEP report’s recommendations to the letter.

It also called on the Federal Government to expedite action on the provisions of infrastructure to the Ogoni people.

“The Ogoni people will not work under any political manipulation that will affect the development and smooth operation in the Land without capturing the interest of the people.

“We stand by every word drafted here and will implement it to the letter, and also ready to give the Federal Government of Nigeria a maximum cooperation to achieve its aim for the success and benefit of the Nation and the Ogoni people,” the communique said.

It would be recalled that oil production operations were suspended in Ogoniland in the early 1990s due to disruptions from local public unrest. The military dictatorship Sani Abacha killed the renowned environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa.

The oilfields and other installations have since largely remained dormant.

Hope was, however, rekindled following an Appeal Court judgment that paved the way for NPDC to take over oil production from Shell in Ogoni land.

The Appeal Court sitting in Abuja upturned the August 23, 2019 ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja which held that the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) was entitled to the renewal of the Lease on OML 11.

In the ruling, the Appellate Court held that the Minister of Petroleum Resources had the discretion whether or not to renew the OML 11 Lease in favour of SPDC.

The court further held that the minister rightly exercised his discretion in awarding the OML 11 Lease to NPDC, a subsidiary of the NNPC. (NAN)


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