Says It’s time to resume oil exploration in Ogoni
President of the movement for the survival of Ogoni people, MOSOP, Fegalo Nsuke on January 4 at the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of Ogoni Day called for the resumption of oil exploration in the area after 32 years. In this interview with Daniel Abia, he gives an elaborate explanation of that call and why stakeholders must sheath their swords to end the political crisis in Rivers State.
How do you evaluate the ongoing political crisis in Rivers State and what in your opinion is the solution to it?
In my view, what is going on in Rivers State is a clash of political and economic interests. The solution will lie in the commitment of the government particularly at the federal level to protect and enforce the constitution in respect of all that has happened.
I think that at this point, everyone involved should sheathe their swords, respect each other and be allowed to do his or her job and if there are violations or abuses, the law should be followed.
What is so special about the Ogoni Development Authority, ODA and to what extent have you gone to make it a reality?
The Ogoni Development Proposal, which calls for the operationalization of the Ogoni Development Authority is so special because it captures the interests of all parties to the Ogoni conflicts namely the government, the Ogoni people and in oil industry and it is a people-driven initiative to permanently address the lingering problem of three decades and will permanently address this problem.
Secondly, it has the potential to unlock a proven oil production capacity of 500,000 barrels per day into the Nigerian economy and that will generate an estimated $40Billion daily for Nigeria. That will bring President Bola Tinubu enormous global commendation, making him a star and hero for Ogoni as the man who ultimately brought this very difficult conflict to an end.
If we put together the amount of oil lost since the oil wells were capped, it is about 500,000 barrels per day and that is estimated to cost about $40m daily. Ogoni has about 200 oil wells and of course, the production is not the same because it depends on the penetration of the soil and some areas produce quite huge. Ogoni can do much more than 500,000 barrels per day and if you put it together and based on the statistics obtained from the NNPC, you will be shocked that the Ogoni can do something in the region of 1.5 million barrels per day but conservatively about 500,000 barrel per day and estimated at $40m are lost daily. Nigerians are fully aware of the present state of affairs in Ogoni and the difficult conditions in which our people live – the extreme unemployment and lack of opportunities, lack of infrastructure including schools, roads, healthcare, electricity and so on.
These very threatening conditions are not different from the situation that prompted the agitation led by MOSOP in 1990 and have been further aggravated by a lack of hope and some seeming failure of leadership to provide a path to a permanent solution.
Since1993, an estimated proven daily oil production capacity of 500,000 barrels per day has remained confined to the ground, stranded, redundant and undeveloped, while the people of the Ogoni walk that same ground in abject poverty, yet with abundant resources to create tremendous value and wealth trapped under their feet.
This cruel irony had been due to a myriad of historic conflicts and disagreements with the legacy operator Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, the facts of which are well known and documented for posterity.
Let me give you a background of this development initiative. The Ogoni Development Authority is a recommendation of the Central Committee of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, the leading group that has been at the forefront of the Ogoni agitation and it intends to drive development in Ogoni and bring about a permanent resolution of the Ogoni crisis. Operationalizing the ODA is MOSOP’s proposal which has prescribed some set of actions that are acceptable to the Ogoni people and we believe they should be acceptable and easy for the government as well and set in motion the process of resolving all legacy issues and bringing development to Ogoni. The ultimate goal is to resolve the Ogoni issue and resume full commercial activities in the area in the interest of all parties including the government, the Ogoni people and the investors as well.
Regarding what we have done and what we are doing to actualize this goal, everyone is expected to play his or her role and fulfil their part of it. For us, MOSOP, we have extensively educated our Ogoni people on the need to embrace this move and we are glad that our consultations were well embraced. We are directly reaching out to those who have been involved and avoided the failed strategies of the past which focused on the elites and did not resolve the issues because the Ogoni struggle is a grassroots movement. We are glad that the acceptability has been awesome leading to a MOSOP Central Committee resolution on September 27, 2020 which approved the proposals and got us to begin action on it.
MOSOP-USA recently gave the creation of Bori state as a precondition for resumption of oil exploration, are you in sync with this condition?
I think MOSOP USA is being sentimental about this and is trying to take advantage of the people’s emotions. But this is not time for unrealistic demands which only leave those of us at home stagnant. We have suffered enough in the past three decades and cannot continue to align with such views expressed by MOSOP USA. They are asking President Tinubu to create a Bori State which suggests that they are not in touch with the realities because our president is not empowered under our laws to create states and those are the kind of misinformation we can no longer entertain.
Secondly, MOSOP USA is only a chapter of MOSOP and does not have any legitimate ground to speak for the Ogoni people in Nigeria. That does not preclude their rights to an opinion but their views are not binding on us in Nigeria. Thirdly, people who live in the most comfortable environment in the world, eating cheeseburgers cannot tell us who live in the most deplorable conditions on earth that we should not discuss our future and advocate a path to our development and improved living conditions. That will be a disservice to the entire Ogoni and the sacrifices of our fallen heroes.
How will you rate the activities of HYPREP since its inception and the huge amount of money sunk into it?
HYPREP is in a looting game. Its foundations are faulty and it has been a deceitful agency from its inception. First of all, the report HYPREP is implementing is deceptive as it concealed over 70 per cent of the pollution sites in Ogoni and downplayed Shell devastation of the Ogoni environment. So, the report HYPREP is implementing lacks credibility.
I maintain that HYPREP is a mess, a fraud and only misappropriating our clean-up funds. Unfortunately, the government is not helping the efforts we are making to get HYPREP to do the right thing. For example, former President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a probe into the activities of HYPREP and to the best of my knowledge, the report of that audit has not been made public till date. Why? What are they hiding? Let them make the report public for the world to see.
What is the expectation of MOSOP about the President Tinubu government?
Nothing so special except that we will expect Mr. President to encourage our proposals for a resolution of the Ogoni problem. It is a win-win proposal and will generate more revenue for the government and drive development in the Ogoni area as well. Generally, we expect the government to care for the people, provide security, build infrastructure, address the electricity problems to drive the growth of small businesses and so on.