29 Years after, Ogoni Youths Demand Resumption of Oil Exploration

Youths of Ogoni in Rivers State under the aegis of National Youth Council of Ogoni People (NYCOP) have demanded the resumption of full oil exploitation and exploration in the area.

This call is coming 29 years after the murder of the renowned environmental-rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight other Ogoni sons by the General Sani Abacha-led military junta.

The Ogoni youths, who spoke during a rally in Bori, Khana Local Government Area of the state in support of the Ogoni Economic Rebirth Project, said resumption of oil exploration should go alongside the Ogoni clean-up exercise being handled by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).

Addressing the youths, Barinuazor Emmanuel, expressed the fear that if the world moves away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, Ogoni oil would be a waste, hence the need to explore it now for the betterment of the younger generation.

He said: “Before 1993, we gave our best to Nigeria, we gave our oil for 35 years and the royalty that was to accrue to the Ogoni people was $150million, before late Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogonis raised the alarm.

“The UNEP report which later came out told us that it was going to take 25 to 30 years to remediate Ogoniland. Now the question is, how many of us would be alive in the next 25 to 30 years? Children born in 1990 are already 33 and 34 years old, they are graduates and some are even fathers  and mothers, and they can’t negotiate for us because they knew nothing about what we passed through.

“Also, after eight years, we believed that  HYPREP would have given us success by remediating at least 50 percent of Ogoni land. They were supposed to do decommissioning of pipelines, run with oil resumption and the $1billion which they have spent and would still spend more, we want that to be a roadmap that as we are cleaning, we will be negotiating for oil resumption for the younger generation to benefit from.”

The NYCOP leader explained that oil resumption must go alongside Ogoni clean-up, stressing that Ogoni is not the only polluted area, noting that other polluted Niger Delta areas also need to be cleaned and restored.

On his part, a prominent leader in the area, Solomon Ndigbara, noted that the world is moving to renewable energy and wondered what would be the fate of Ogoniland if the agreement from COP23 is implemented.

According to him, “We have lost the best of our generation, we have lost the best of our brains, we have lost our land because of oil exploration and I think the world should compensate Ogoni people by allowing us to benefit from our oil and gas because we have paid the supreme price that no other ethnic group has paid to save the environment and our oil.”

The Ogoni youth leader further called on all well-meaning Ogoni sons and daughters to open their minds and shun the deceitful ploys of those he referred to as “commercial activists and visionless high grade racketeers” who parade under the name leaders, but are only working for selfish interest.

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