Leaders of Ogoniland, Rivers State, southern Nigeria, under the auspices of the Ogoni Liberation Initiative (OLI), have pledged to cooperate with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in the exploration and production of oil and gas resources in its territory.
This comes after an initial disagreement on resumption of exploration and production in the community,
OLI convener Revd. Douglas Fabeke commended the Court of Appeal for the judgment confirming NPDC as the valid operator of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11, stressing that the Ogoni people welcomed with joy the intervention of the Federal Government and the takeover of the assets by NPDC following the Appeal Court judgment in Abuja.
He said the judgment that handed OML11 to NPDC was liberation for the Ogoni people, stressing that the people of Ogoni have “looked forward to this freedom over the years”.
He further praised President Muhammadu Buhari for his administration’s commitment to the development of Ogoniland, adding that the people would support efforts aimed at restoring the environment and exploring its huge natural resources for the benefit of all.
“The Ogoni people are ready for oil and gas business in the land to entrench development in partnership with the NNPC and the 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, adding that Ogoni leaders have resolved to eschew bitterness and work with the Federal Government to ensure that the people benefited from the resources in their land.
Fabeke presented a communique on behalf of the people of Ogoni to the Federal Government as the request of Ogoni people and as condition for the mutual relationship between the people and NPDC. The communique, among other things, requested that “the issue of clean-up in Ogoniland should 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 or allow the Ogoni people to bring experts that would perfectly implement the recommendations of the UNEP Report to the letter”.
It also called on the Federal Government to expedite action on the provisions of infrastructure to the Ogoni people.
He warned that his people would not work under any political manipulation that would 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 maximum cooperation to achieve its aim for the success and benefit of the nation and the Ogoni people.” the communique stated.
The Managing Director of NPDC, Mr. Mohammed Ali-Zarah, said the Company understood the yearnings of the Ogoni and shared in their pain. He said NPDC and the Federal Government would work with the Ogoni to bring development, employment and growth to the land, remediate the environment and ensure that future exploration and production did not impact negatively on the environment.