NATIONAL crude oil petroleum corporation the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) has announced plans to resume operations in Ogoniland in the Niger Delta after years of abandoning the area following the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Ogoniland has been at the centre of environmental agitation in the Niger Delta as its farmlands, rivers and creeks have been polluted by oil companies. In 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa the leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Mosop) was hanged by the then Nigerian military government.
As a result of the hanging, the Ogoni youths chased most of the oil companies out of their region and their creeks remains among the most polluted in the world. In a bid to revive output, NPDC, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) subsidiary is ready to commence production in abandoned oil wells to the benefit of community and the country.
NPDC managing director Mohammed Alizarah, who spoke at an event hosted by the Ogoni Liberation Initiative, said that the company understood the concerns and yearnings of the Ogoni people and shared in their pain. He added that the NPDC and the federal government would work with the communities to ensure their environment was remediated and the activities not impact negatively on their environment but bring them development, employment and growth.
Mr Alizarah said: “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.
“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.”
Douglas Fabeke, the convener and leader of the Ogoni Liberation Initiative, said the Ogoni people welcomed with great joy the intervention of the federal government 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.
Mr Fabeke said: “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 called on the leaders of the Ogoni to eschew bitterness and work with the federal government to ensure that the people benefitted from their resources. Mr Fabeke then submitted a communique to the federal government, which 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 United Nations Environmental Programme recommendation.