As oil exploration resumes in Ogoniland, an expert in the oil and gas industry, Engineer Eddie Wikina has cautioned stakeholders within and outside Ogoni against instigating crisis in the area.
He advocated for a careful handling of issues bordering on the clean-up of the polluted Ogoni environment and resumption of oil exploratory activities in the area.
Wikina, who gave the warning in a press statement made available to The Tide called for a more pragmatic approach in addressing the issues at stake; noting that Ogonis were yet to recover from the crisis that ravaged the land in the past as a result of oil politics.
“Ogoni has borne the brunts of oil politics over the years. Of all the Niger Delta communities, Ogoni is the least beneficiary of the struggle for better right of place in the Nigeria neconomy, despite playing a leading role. We cannot afford another oil related crisis in the area when previous issues raised have not been addressed”, he said.
The Ogoni-born international business executive, said critical issues on the imperatives of justice and the restoration of Ogoni environment should be addressed to justify confidence in any negotiation process.
He described the emergence of splinter groups with various appellations and vested interest as unrepresentative of the ideals of the Ogoni struggle, and called on all stakeholders in the area to harmonise their various positions so as to promote sustainable peace and development in Ogoni.
He said: “Today, various groups are coming up in Ogoni, with claims of mandate to speak for the people. This is not in the best interest of the Ogoni, as we cannot achieve anything concrete with such divisions and splinter voices. No single group has the mandate to speak for Ogoni, all relevant stakeholders in the area must be involved in any issue relating to the development of Ogoni; the process has to be consultative”.
Engr Wikina also expressed dissatisfaction over the quality and competence of the companies seeking to come to Ogoni for resumption of oil exploration activities.
According to him, most of the companies so far mentioned to be prospecting for Ogoni oil lack evidence of requisite capacity in line with modern industry standards.
“Ogoni is in dire need of development and cannot compromise the chances of putting the area on a strong economic footing. Any company coming into Ogoni must have a track record of excellence in practice and service and must be ready to dialogue with Ogoni stakeholders for active community participation in the process”, he stated.
Speaking on the Ogoni environmental clean-up, Wikina decried the delay in the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Project(UNEP) recommendations in Ogoni.
He regretted that the Ogoni cleanup exercise has become a subject of partisan politics and called on the Federal Government and other stakeholders to expedite action on the clean-up process and restore the devastated Ogoni environment.