The American Negro leader, Frederick Douglas, once asked, “who will stand for the downtrodden, open his mouth for the dumb and remember those in bonds as if bound with them”.
At a period when men worshipped at the altar of Nigeria’s self styled dictator and maximum ruler, when men so shackled by the ferocious cruelty of a wild and ruthless military junta, kept numb over the atrocious deeds that permeated the political waves of the country, when the chimney of injustice and institutional compromise reeked to its most repulsive and insipid taste, a bold, courageous and fearless Ogoni activist, Ken Saro- Wiwa braved the odds, putting his life on the line to question the excesses of the Abacha junta.
It was a critical period in Nigeria’s chequered political history which analysts described as a “decisive moment”.
Angered by the sad realities of the loss of the natural environment of the Niger Delta to a convoluted oil economy, where oil bearing communities existed as mere pawns in the game of power, he dusted up his hitherto docile Ogoni people to confront the deep-seated inequities and outright contraventions of the principles of justice in the Nigerian State.
He duly alerted his people that their foes; the Military Junta and Shell were formidable, but he pinned his conviction on the fact that it was better to fight the glaring environmental injustice that besieged them, than to remain silente and phase out of existence as a result of reckless oil exploratory activities by Shell which was ongoing in the area for decades. The moment was therefore ripe to confront the vilest political contraption in the history of Nigeria led by a pugnacious General, fully at home with the culture of might to subdue every real or imaginary enemy of the junta. The stage was set for the battle, and Ken Saro-Wiwa was not deterred to carry out his identified course of action.
Through the platform of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, (MOSOP), he instituted a global campaign against the activities of the Royal Dutch in Ogoni. Through his oratory, activist posture and unique literary voice, he reaped cans of worms open against Shell, exposing the many social defects and corporate irresponsibilities of the company to a mass global and local audience.
As the controller of the highest stake among the IOCs in the Joint Venture agreement with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) Shell and the Military junta were badly heated by Saro Wiwa’s campaign. Abacha was challenged to his chagrin, and he let loose his ill temper against the defenceless Ogoni people, framed up their leaders under junket of charges and summarily executed Ken Saro Wiwa and other Ogoni compatriots after a Kangaroo trial.
Shell also took cover under the Military junta to perfect it perfidy in Ogoni; the climax of which was the decimation of the elitist class in Ogoni, the wanton wastages of innocent lives, and the eventual pullout of the company from Ogoni. It is on record that during the Kangaroo trial of Ken Saro Wiwa a military Tribunal, Shell was duly represented even when they were supposedly not a party in the trial. What evidence could then be required for their complicity in the Ogoni crisis?. When Shell’s role in the prosecution of the Ogoni leaders became apparent, the company claimed it was the state’s role to ensure fairness under the law, and not a corporation’s. Such hypocrisy has continued to resonate among some unrepentant apologists of shell and other foes of Ogoni till date. But history has judged Ogoni fairly, as Shell’s record of environmental abuse and human rights abuse has continued to swell. Reports show that a Shell security fraud scandal in 2004, led to the forced resignation of the group chairman, Sir Philip Watts, who was escorted from the Shell centre by security staff.
Thus not its self righteousness or impregnable posture has saved the company from a diminishing corporate reputation globally. The denigrating poverty and unabated pollution in Ogoni and other Niger Delta communities are also glaring evidence against Shell. Reports reveal that between 1976 and 1991, over two million barrels of oil polluted Ogoni in 2,976 separate oil spills, and pipelines operated by Shell still traverse the land, creeks and water ways in Ogoni after oil production has ceased.
Although Ogonis paid dearly for their foremost role in environmental awareness in the Niger Delta, the fact remains that Saro Wiwa’s campaign has changed the face of oil politics in Nigeria. Shell and other nonchalant IOCs and corporate firms that prospect for oil in the Niger Delta have continued to incur the odium of its host communities. There is also pressure on the federal government to ensure strict compliance of international laws and politics in the oil industry.
As a Chief Proponent of true federalism, Ken Saro- Wiwa approached the leadership echelon of the country to rule by democratic ideals, rather than a surplus appropriating centralised command system immersed in an oil economy that survived vampire like on the fortune of the Niger Delta. Predictably, some leaders of Niger Delta cashed in on the Ogoni struggle and made themselves amiable tools in the hands of Shell and the military junta. Saro-Wiwa predicted this. He knew that the consequences of a failed oil-led development were conflicts, and divide and rule by the beneficiaries of the fraudulent system.
He therefore admonished the Niger Delta leaders to key into the vision and pointed out that, “Genocide was not selective”.
The implication being that such compromisers would equally become targets of destruction after aiding the external aggressors to destroy their kith and kin. History was to judge him correctly. Saro Wiwa also kicked against what he referred to as “indigenous colonialism”, a system where the minority ethnic groups in Nigeria are expected to render perpetual obedience to the majority ethnic groups, which history and colonal annexation has made a determinate superior.
He had a strong conviction in Thomas Jefferson’s Postulation during his inaugural address that, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority in all cases should prevail; that which will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression”.
Saro-Wiwa was therefore deeply concerned about the moral issue that confronted Nigeria as a sovereign nation; the issue of constitutional democracy that would guarantee the rights of every citizen, irrespective of ethnic affiliation. Like the sage, Obagemi Awolowo, his idea of federalism was that all ethnic groups in Nigeria, should be given fair treatment, irrespective of size or numerical strength. Exactly 24 years after the death of Ken Saro Wiwa, the forces of oppression against Ogoni and the Niger Delta is yet to abate. The environment remains contaminated and polluted. There is more oil, more money and yet more poverty in the Niger Delta, there is more security troops and yet more insecurity in the Niger Delta.
National security as it affects the Niger Delta, at best relates to unfettered oil production. The hope of oil resumption in Ogoni is also very elusive, as Ogonis have insisted that the issues of environmental injustices raised by Saro Wiwa must be addressed before any oil resumption deal. Addressing a mammoth crowd of supporters at a memorial lecture organised to mark the 24th anniversary of Ogoni matyres day, MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara, said the organisation would remain committed to the tenets of the Ogoni struggle. He called on Ogonis and the Niger Delta to remain steadfast in the pursuit of environmental justice in the region.
Speaking with The Tide in an interview, the president of a foremost pan Ogoni youth body, the Ogoni youth federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaanabana called on the federal government to expedite action on the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP) report on the cleanup of Ogoni.
The Ogoni youth leader also urged the federal government to exonerate Saro Wiwa from the questionable circumstances that greeted his trial and death, by offering him post humus pardon. He said Ogoni youths will resist any forced resumption of oil exploration in Ogoni without properly negotiated settlements.
Also speaking in an exclusive interview with The Tide, foremost environmentalist, Engr Olu Andah Wai-Ogosu called for a more sustainable environmental policy to address the lingering challenges in the Niger Delta.
The environmental consultant and university don, also solicited local and international concern over the plight of the Ogoni people, to address the issues raised by Saro-Wiwa. In death, Saro Wiwa did not only set the pace for a new environmental consciousness in Nigeria, he also raised a new consciousness in minority rights activism in Nigeria. He won the Rights Livelihood Award for exemplary courage in striving nonviolently for civil economic and environmental rights, and he is one of the few Africans celebrated in the international mainstream of martyrdom.
Nigeria Lost $750m To Oil Theft In 2019 – NNPC
The Nigerian National Pe
troleum Corporation (NNPC) says the nation lost about 750 million dollars to oil theft in 2019.
The NNPC Group Managing Director, Malam Mele Kyari disclosed this in a statement signed by the Acting Spokesman for the corporation Mr Samson Makoji in Abuja on Tuesday.
Kyari said this when members of the Executive Intelligence Management Course 13 of the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS) visited the NNPC Towers.
He decried the growing activities of oil thieves and pirates which he described as a threat to the operations of the corporation.
The GMD who spoke on the topic: “Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea; Issues, Challenges for International Trade, National Security and Sustainable Development of Member States”, said that any threat to the corporation’s operations was a direct threat to the very survival of Nigeria as nation.
This, he said, was because of the strategic role of the corporation as an enabler of the economy.
He listed other security challenges facing the corporation to include vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure and kidnapping of personnel.
According to him, there is a deep connection between the various shades of insecurity challenges as they were all linked to what is happening in the Gulf of Guinea and the entire maritime environment.
He called for a concerted effort and synergy to secure oil and gas operations for the economic survival of the country.
The NNPC boss re-assured that in spite of the increase in demand for fossil oil crude oil would still remain relevant.
“Even by 2050, fossil fuel would account for 80 per cent of the energy mix, and there would still be consumption of at least, 100 million barrels of oil per day.
“ We are determined to remain relevant in the long term,” he assured.
In his presentation, NNPC Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, Mr Yemi Adetunji said in 2016, the Gulf of Guinea accounted for more than half of the global kidnappings for ransom, with 34 seafarers kidnapped out of 62 cases worldwide.
He said the corporation was working closely with security agencies to tackle the security challenges, and cited the “Operation Kurombe” that was recently conducted by the Nigerian Navy at the Atlas Cove as an example of such collaborative efforts.
Also, the Executive Director, National Institute of security Studies, Dr Ayodele Adeleke, called for synergy among the security agencies to tackle the security challenges not only in the Gulf of Guinea, but in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry generally.
The visiting team was drawn from 18 agencies within and outside Nigeria.
DPR To Transfer Five Revoked Oil Blocks
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has transferred Oil Mining Licence (OML) 98 to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), stating the federal government is considering transferring five others, which were recently revoked.
DPR had earlier revoked the previously operated by Pan Ocean Oil Corporation and five others belonging to Allied Energy Resources Nigeria (OML 120 and 121); Express Petroleum and Gas Company (OML 108); Cavendish Petroleum Nigeria (OML 110), and Summit Oil International (OPL 206).
The federal government had ordered the revocation, justifying the decision as a move to “recover legacy debts” owed by the companies operating the licences.
In an event to transfer the asset, Director of DPR, Sarki Auwalu, who stressed that move was in the economic interest of Nigerians, especially the shareholders, stated that there are about 42 million barrels oil deposit in the block.He added that there are 20 million barrels of condensate as well as 393 billion standard cubic feet of gas.
Auwalu warned NPDC to put the asset to best use, stressing that government would not fail jail individuals, who treat the oil assets with levity.”If there any failure we will not hesitate to jail whoever is responsible,” Auwalu said. He said government is interested in helping investors make returns on investment, stressing that organisation must take advantage of alternative dispute resolutions instead leaving investment in limbo.
“We are not for any legal battle. Everything can be settled with alternative dispute resolutions because we need our assets to work for the interest of stakeholders,” Auwalu stated, while urging investors to be proactive and always consider economic value.
While reassuring the regulators of Pan Ocean’s commitment to a smooth transition, Mr. Olajide Ishola, chief operating officer, Pan Ocean said, “since last year when the revocation of the asset came into effect, a lot of things were left in limbo. This meeting set the tone for the handover and future of the asset. In the months ahead, we will continue to work closely with regulators to ensure that there is no significant disruption in production as a result of change in ownership.”
Pan Ocean has engaged in economic activity on OML 98 since 1973. Within the period, the company created jobs, contributed to the development of critical national oil and gas assets, and improved infrastructure in host communities.
RSG’s Intervention Averts Fuel Scarcity In Rivers
The timely intervention of the Rivers State Government, yesterday saved the state from fuel scarcity in the state.
The organised petroleum sector in the state comprising the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association, the Licence Petroleum Station owners and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Energy Workers(NUPENG) had planned to begin a strike action, yesterday.
The petroleum service providers in the state had threatened to shut down their operations following alleged impoundment of their product laden trucks by the Army and incessant arrest of their members by task force operators.
The strike action which would have thrown the entire state into a round of fuel scarcity was however, averted by the state government in the wee hours of yesterday.
Th state government represented by the state Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr Peter Medee quickly entered into a peace negotiation meeting with the leadership of NUPENG, IPMAN and other stakeholders to broker peace.
The meeting which commenced on Sunday evening lasted till the early hours of yesterday.
Dr Medee who led the Rivers State Government team said the government waded into the looming crisis to avert the consequences of the strike.
According to him, “the Rivers State Government engaged all the affected parties and stakeholders in series of consultations to arrest the situation and avert the impending industrial action”, adding that “the Rivers State Governor, Chief Barr Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is committed towards creating the enabling environment for business activities to strive in the state”.
Chairman of the Port Harcourt branch of IPMAN, Comrade Obele also confirmed the suspension of the strike, saying members of the association have been directed to resume full operations while the security agencies have agreed to release the impounded trucks.
Former Chairman of IPMAN, Port Harcourt branch, Comrade Emmanuel Inimgba, who commented on the matter decried a situation where petroleum marketers were targets of arrests and victims of insecurity and called for lasting solution to the challenges.
A directive of the national leadership of NUPENG has aso urged its members in the state to resume full operations.
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