We won’t allow oil exploration in Ogoni land, group vows

• To resist Shell, others • Insists on Xavon Energy

A coalition of indigenes of oil-rich Ogoniland in Rivers State, the Ogoni People‘s Assembly has declared that oil exploration would only resume in the area on its terms.

Oil exploration by the Shell Petroleum Development Company was suspended in the area following the international outrage which trailed the execution of the leader of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, (MOSOP) late Ken Saro Wiwa and three others by the General Sani Abacha regime.

Saro-Wiwa and eight of his kinsmen, who became popularly known as the Ogoni Nine, were sentenced to death by a special military tribunal set up by the late dictator, General Abacha who later died in June 1998.

There has been an effort to resume oil exploration in the area following the commitment by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to clean up the area which has suffered environmental degradation.

But speaking with newsmen on Monday, Leader of Ogoni People’s Assembly, Probel Williams said only Xavon Energy would be allowed to carry out oil exploration on the Oil Mining Lease, (OML) which originally belonged to Shell Petroleum.

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Williams further claimed that Xavon Energy, being an indigenous oil exploration company would show more concern in ameliorating the environmental degradation and appaling poverty facing the people of the oil-rich community.

He said: “It will be recalled that on January 4, 1993, Ogoni people started a campaign against Shell Petroleum Development Company the then operators of the OML11 for the total destruction of our environment, neglect of the people, and the refusal to address the economic needs of the people by way of industrial development and employment.

“Ogoni people have not been, and are still not opposed to oil exploration but shall never allow further exploration on the terms and modus operandi of Shell PDC.

“The Ogoni People’s Assembly is a coalition of Ogoni People drawn from all strata of society youths, academia, elders and Chiefs who are seeking partnership with any company that can take fiduciary responsibility to address the current challenges facing the Ogoni people.

“The Ogoni nationality in the Federal Republic of Nigeria today is facing serious existential threats resulting from Extreme Youth unemployment [80%] and the security challenges arising thereof.

The total collapse of the school system and the fall of educational standards in the land for example, out of 10 secondary schools in Khana Local Government Area, only one is open as we speak.

“The dearth of industrial infrastructure in the land despite the abundance of oil/gas resources, and indeed the threat of extinction of the Ogoni race if nothing is done.

“We are of the view that much as it is the responsibility of government to address the situations, it is our own responsibility to assist the government by supporting the utilization of the resources in our land for the desired goal.

“The Ogoni oil fields have been abandoned for 26 years due to the intractable fight against the modus operandi of the IOCs particularly SPDC.

We have been looking forward to a day we can find a Nigerian company that understand our plight and can work with Ogoni people. And we believe we have found such in Xavon Energy.

“This is our mission and we pray the Federal government to consider our request to allow XAVON ENERGY the operatorship of OML 11 and break this 26-year-old impasse peacefully. “

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