Nov 17, 2008

Ogoni: Mittee Urges Discussion

Active ImageUNPO President Ledum speaks frankly about Shell’s involvement in Ogoniland.
Below is an article published by
Aso Rock has been notified that the choice of an oil firm to succeed Shell in Ogoni would be a joint decision between the government and the people, failing which another grave mistake would have been made.
Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) President, Ledum Mitee, said the way to resume oil drilling there, 15 years after Shell was banished, is to get the nod of the people who would also be involved in the vetting process.
That emerged as the Villa tries to seal a deal with another oil drilling company to work in the community from which Shell was banned in 1993 after fundamental disagreements with the Ogoni, hardened two years later [1995] by the execution of MOSOP leaders, including the world acclaimed environmental rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight others.
Mitee spoke in an exclusive interview in Ogoni on a day the people, and environmental rights agitators worldwide, commemorated the 13th anniversary of the hanging by the Sanni Abacha regime of the Ogoni Nine.
"The Ogoni people have introduced a whole lot of profound changes not only in Nigeria but in the whole world. We have introduced two things, a concept that must be very clear for Nigeria and the whole world," Mitee said in reply to a question on what the people feel about new overtures to resume oil exploration.
"All over the world they have got it. There are two licences you need to operate: the legal licence and the social licence. You go to Abuja and they give you what they call an oil bloc, whereas I have argued that awarding oil blocs is an insult to the psyche of the people of the land.
"It is like the Berlin conference where European countries partitioned Africa among themselves. People sit down somewhere and share out my village, including my house, and you say you have an oil bloc. You didn't ask me and you just went ahead and shared my father's farm and make millions of Naira out of that.
"What we in Ogoni have proved is that even the legal licence from Abuja might not necessarily be enough, you need the social licence. You need the social licence in the sense that the Ogoni people will say, yes, you have the legal licence, but we also must give you the licence to operate on our land.
"Because the Ogoni withdrew the social licence from Shell, it has not been able to operate. But, again, the converse is also true, in some sense. If you have the social licence, if you talk with the Ogoni people and they say, ok operate, the government will say that is illegal bunkering. That is why you have the phenomenon of illegal bunkering; those who secure social licence without legal licence from Abuja.
"The challenge for this country is to get a merger of both the social and the legal. If government thinks that we have pushed out Shell, and wants to return a company like Shell or less than Shell, that is a mistaken perception. You need to talk with us so we can merge the social licence of the Ogoni people with the legal licence from Abuja."