Aug 10, 2006

Ogoni: MOSOP Mobilises Against Oil Companies

The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People has urged the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta to forge a common front in the struggle against the activities of oil companies operating in the area.
The MOSOP President, Mr. Ledum Mitte, said on Wednesday in Port Harcourt while addressing a gathering of oil-bearing communities in Rivers State to mark the occasion of the World Indigenous Peoples Day that the communities must form a common platform if their struggles must bear fruit.

It is important that we have a platform so that if it happens in one community all of us will say we are worried, Mitee urged, adding, We want to help each other in this struggle for injustice.

The MOSOP president warned that the current appeasement and bully tactics could only buy time for the oil exploitation in the region but could not guarantee the needed sustainable business environment.

Mitte stated that such measures could only reinforce a regime of violence and disdain for industry by future generations.

He added that the companies needed social licences in addition to legal ones to operate effectively in any environment.

It is an exercise in self-delusion for the government and operating companies to continue to believe that the grant of legal licences in Abuja, by themselves would be enough guarantees for exploitation in the ocean of poverty that the Niger Delta has become.

The communities need to be active participants in the process to bring about a merger of the social licences by the communities and the legal licences by the government.

Mitee also advocated the replacement of the current joint venture arrangement by which according to him the indigenous peoples lands are shared between government and operating companies in the name of oil blocs with a tri-partite arrangement in which the oil companies, the government and communities become partners.

He said, What the people of Niger Delta ask for is not an appeasement but respect for their rights as indigenous people for partnership with government and the companies in the exploitation of the resources of our land, action not rhetoric on our inalienable rights to development and respect for our dignity. These are the minimum guarantees for sustainable peace in the Niger Delta.

Representatives of other oil-bearing communities who spoke at the occasion were all in support of the call for synergy between the communities in their struggles for their rights from the government and the oil companies.

By Femi Makinde, Port Harcourt,Punch Newspapers