The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has vowed to mobilise the Ogoni people against any attempt to commence oil production in the region without any broad-based, stakeholder discussion and agreement with our people. It is provocative that while the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) is forcing its way to beginning oil mining in Ogoni, claiming to have been handed OML 11, it has immorally shown visible lack of interest in the clean-up exercise. NPDC has refused to make her financial contribution to the project having taken over the liabilities of Shell by virtue of its claims to OML 11. Since oil production cannot go without hydrocarbon pollution, it will amount to double tragedy for our people if the earlier contamination is not first addressed, and another unleashed on the Ogoni environment.

A report available to MOSOP shows that NPDC and its agent, Noble Oil is gearing up for oil extraction in Ogoni now. And this impetus is anchored on a so-called agreement with a defamed group in the area that stood in the way of the Ogoni campaign for human and environmental justices for the people. Ogoni, we must say, has at no time given any mandate to such group to act on her behalf. So, whatever understanding reached with such organisation is not, and will never be binding on us.

However, we would reiterate for the umpteenth time that oil extraction is not on the Ogoni card for now but the remediation and restoration of the Ogoni environment, which has been delayed worrisomely. We are deeply concerned that while other communities in the country are treated with human face strengthened by respect, the Nigerian state through its agencies and officials has been treating Ogoni with disdain, as a conquered territory where pain and sorrow are unleashed unabatedly. We must warn that our resort to peaceful advocacy as against the violent approach favoured by others must not be mistaken for weakness. Therefore, Government should call NPDC and its agents to order as there is limit to our endurance.

It is our position that whatever corporate accord that exist between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the NPDC, which had no Ogoni community participation, and which failed to recognise the collective interest of the Ogoni people is unacceptable and would be resisted.

NPDC, we must say, must realise that it is a pariah having been declared persona non grata in Ogoni. We must thus warn the company to steer clear of community in the interest of peace and pending when her pariah status would be reversed. From all indications, NPDC is bent on creating crisis in the region and we do want this to happen.

A stitch in time, they say, saves nine!

Bari-ara Kpalap
Media Adviser to the MOSOP President