Ogoni: Nigeria Ousts Shell
The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni (MOSOP) has sent a letter expressing its gratitude to the Government of Nigeria for its decision to replace Shell as the oil operator in Ogoniland.
Below is a copy of MOSOP’s letter.
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Rock, Abuja
His Excellency, Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi
Executive Governor, Rivers State
Government House, Port Harcourt
OGONI APPRECIATION ON GOVERNMENT’S DECISION ON SHELL
We are writing on behalf of the Ogoni people to express our gratitude to Your Excellency for the decision of the Federal Government to replace Shell as the operator in the Ogoni areas. An Ogoni Congress- the largest of our formal meetings- organised over the weekend that achieved the strongest turnout since the end of military rule -resolved to formally express the solidarity of the Ogoni people with the decision and to assure that the Ogoni people are committed to playing a constructive role in the transformation process.
The Federal government’s decision understandably caused considerable excitement at the Congress as focus of participants drawn from all the Kingdoms and facets of the Ogoni community was clearly positive and dwelled on the prospects for the future.
Notwithstanding our aspirations as a people, we believe that the laudable decision by the federal government could open up opportunities for Ogoni to play a unique, positive and transformational role for our region and our nation. If the challenges and opportunities presented by this new situation can be addressed in a manner that do not lower our standards in terms of restoring the natural environment and securing a viable future for our people, then there will be extraordinary precedents set for reframing key issues.
For example, we are aware that the considerable gas reserves in Ogoni are presumably not connected to present export obligations. It would be more than gratifying to our people if gas from our region were to play a role in addressing the gas and electricity shortages affecting our entire nation.
If a new oil operator is able to break with the past and design a relationship with local people based around just treatment of communities and innovative approaches to development and employment then the message for the Niger Delta could be truly inspiring and groundbreaking.
None of the above takes away from the facts that there will be considerable pressures in the weeks and months ahead of us. We are already aware that the pressures from potential oil operators and local content partners will be intense.
We would particularly urge the Federal and State Government to ensure that those applying for license to operate in Ogoni do so within the context of evidence based approach on their commitment to the highest possible environmental and social standards.
This aspect should be as public, transparent, and open as possible as there is no question that the co-operation of our communities must be won rather than assumed after years of abuse and conflict. A hasty decision in favour of an oil operator of questionable or unknown character could be disastrous. There is no desire amongst our people to find ourselves with an oil operator that repeats the mistakes of the last few decades in Ogoni.
Finally we would urge you and the State Government to take advantage of this period of goodwill by looking towards immediate opportunities for building on this in a manner that can bring hope to the whole of the Niger delta.
Whilst assuring your Excellency of our highest regards, we look forward to your future communication and hope that together we can grasp a valuable opportunity to turn the tide of conflict in our region.
President: Ledum Mitee; Deputy President: Dr. Olua Kamalu;
Acting-Secretary-General: Moses Damgbor; Financial Secretary: Fortune Chujor; Treasurer: Daniel Nsanee;
Publicity Secretary: Emmanuel Ebeh; Legal Adviser: Samuel Igbara