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Author Name: Ifeanyi Izeze
Number of articles: 174

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Shell Vs FG/RSG On Ogoni Clean -Up: In Search Of Truth On This Tripod Of Treachery?
Author: Ifeanyi Izeze | July 21, 2014



Without doubt, treachery has continued to be the defining attribute in the tripartite relationship between Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) and the Federal Government on one side and the Ogoni people of Rivers state with the Rivers state government on the other. Each side has always tried to outwit the other by firing loads of lies from all sides to win sympathy from the outside world. If Shell had any iota of integrity and/or credibility left in its dealings with the host communities in the Niger Delta that is now being completely blown away by the company's continued lying on issues as pertain the Ogoni's protest of the company's irresponsible business practices. The federal government itself had used layers of lies to cover what could be best described as truancy in taking a decisive action at resolving the Ogoni stalemate. And for the Ogoni people, they will continue to lie on this matter as long as Shell is still lobbying to re-enter its abandoned oil leases in the territory. It was unbelievable that the SPDC's Ogoni Restoration Project Manager, Augustine Igbuku, could publicly before the House of Representatives Committee on Environment declare that Shell was ready to give its part of the $1 billion Ogoni Restoration Fund but was being frustrated by the lack of government structure and a legal framework for the Hydrocarbon Restoration Project (HYPREP), the ad hoc intervention agency set up by the government. The Anglo-Dutch oil giant also alleged that lack of work plan by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources for the proposed clean up and the utilisation of the funds were also responsible for its delay of action. Who is talking of willingness now? Shell's feigned willingness is at best criminal because there is a very wide gap between being verbally willing and the required genuine determination motivated by the will-power to be honest to do the right thing. Shell's effort to absolve itself from the current Ogoni impasse was very irresponsible because it has actually been alleged that the company has been covertly helping the Nigerian government to be docile in this Ogoni matter. The Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of The Earth Nigeria actually hit the maze on the head in Port Harcourt as they said in a statement that: âWe strongly believe this is complicity. Is it not an irony that while the rest of the world clamours for global binding mechanisms to hold transnational like Shell accountable for environmental atrocities, the Nigerian government is demonstrating its unwillingness to compel the same company to act in this frustration game being played out?â It is very regrettable that the Ogonis or rather those fronting for the rest of Ogoni are willing to engage positively with Shell (the polluter) and the Nigerian government but they remained shut- out in this game of rigmarole on the clean-up and remediation exercise as proposed by UNEP to appease the Ogoni deities. Shell had 98 oil wells in about 7 oilfields in Ogoniland with 5 flowstations in Bodo West; Yorla, Korokoro, and Ebubu (part of Eleme) before the company's expulsion from the area in 1993. Daily crude oil output from the area according to Shell statistics was about 28, 000 barrels per day before the shut-in in 1993 as a result of the company's alleged complicity in the execution of the âOgoni- 13â. True as alleged by Shell that the Nigerian government was frustrating efforts to set up structures and release of funds for the implementation of the UNEP Assessment Report on Ogoniland but what Shell craftily dodged to also say was that it is complicit in this federal government's laid-back disposition to the Ogoni-clean up quagmire. How could Shell accuse the Federal Government of frustrating the company's efforts by the lack of government structure and a legal framework for the Hydrocarbon Restoration Project (HYPREP), when the Ogoni leaders themselves from day one have continued to insist that they are not going to accept that body for the remediation project in their land? Has the Ogoni position changed? You see the Shell deceit? By the way, when Shell accused the Federal Government as pertains to oil and its spill in Ogoni, was the company not actually accusing the Minister of Petroleum Resources of frustrating its (Shell's) willingness to appease Ogoni? And who is the minister of petroleum if not Shell personified in the Presidency. You can deceive some people sometimes but you cannot deceive all the people all the time- yeye country. Then, Governor Chibuike Amaechi's claim that he left PDP for APC over the federal government's delayed implementation of the UNEP Ogoni remediation Report, was another outrageous lie that could best be described as an outright leadership irresponsibility and gross insensitivity to the misfortunes of the Ogoni people. What can Amaechi as governor of that area for eight years say he has marvelously done as development in the entire Ogoniland aside going to Mexico to buy banana and plantain for Ogoni people as development project? Abeg make una go sit down. It is unfortunate that Amaechi can turn the Ogoni misfortune to explain away his (maybe now clear) rashness in jumping political boat. Everybody knows that the estranged governor did not decamp because of Ogoni. Not even Senator Magnus Abe whose house in Gokhana is a trekking distance to the sour point of oil devastation at Bodo town, can feign he left PDP to APC because of delayed implementation of the UNEP Report. Ofcourse, the Senator is more discreet in his actions and words than the oga -at -the âtop. If Amaechi decamped because of UNEP report, Victor Giadom also followed because of delayed implementation of the clean up? It was the same PDP-led federal government that gave him scores of oil wells from Akwa Ibom state. That time he did not decamp but only said âGod has punished Akwa Ibom.â Haba bros! Is it not curious that of the five governors or so that walked out on President Jonathan and the PDP at the Eagle Square Abuja rally, it's only Amaechi who has been struggling to adduce and broadcast the reasons for his action? Not even the embattled and badly-treated former Bayelsa governor, Sylva has undertaken such childish adventure. Has anybody ever asked Amaechi why he joined APC and ofcourse who is even interested. The other day, it was because he was fighting Jonathan that was why Rivers (Kalabari) oil wells were snatched from him and given to Bayelsa state even though, that particular case preceded his administration and ofcourse Odili maturely handled it without much noise. Amaechi's problem is that he is a very selfish politician who does not give a dam about how most of his rash actions and pronouncements would affect those who believed and had followed him with cult-like loyalty. How would his Ogoni loyalists look in the sight of the kiths and kins back home? Again, if there is any group in the Niger Delta that has terribly lied to themselves in the years of protest against foreign oil operators in their area, it is the Ogonis in their case with Shell. Truth is bitter but we still have to say it. Shell was asked to decommission its facilities in the area to avert genuine incidence of oil spills and blowouts, was the company allowed by MOSOP to do that? No.The same UNEP Report which the Ogonis are now using as the Bible of everything they want both Shell and the Federal Government to do or not to do in the area exonerated the Anglo-Dutch super oil and gas major, Shell, from the serial pipeline bursts in Ogoniland against the backdrop of popular claims the Ogonis want everybody to believe. The three-year investigation conducted by UNEP funded with $ 9.5million provided by Shell had concluded that only 10 percent of the pollution in Ogoniland was caused by equipment failures and company negligence and that the rest was caused by local people stealing oil and sabotaging pipelines. My Ogoni people, is this true? Those of you who know me and how much I know about what is happening in Ogoniland should know what my answer to this question should be. Haba, the Ogonis must learn to tell themselves and the outside world the truth if they believe all of us should continue to stake our emotions, energy and time fighting a course that has remained at best a covert mission by a very small clique that has continued to ride on the emotions and devastation of the real Ogoni people to enjoy the choicest things of life in Nigeria and around the world. Na me talkam. It is not acceptable that except with the set up the Ogoni land Environmental Restoration Authority (OERA) to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the UNEP assessment no other conscription would be allowed by the Ogoni leaders to implement/supervise the remediation exercise. The question is: If we start setting up village or ethnic nationality-specific environmental restoration agencies to clean up polluted sites across the Niger Delta and even outside the region where pipeline spills have adversely impacted on the environment, the number of such agencies we end up with is better imagined than real. And if the Ogonis get their way now as they are insisting, every other people of the oil region would wake up to ask for theirs and this would be counter-productive. The setting up of HYPREP by the Federal Government in the first instance was a misstep as it would sure introduce bottlenecks in the remediation exercises beyond the Ogoni case. Who say the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) cannot work with the Ogoni leaders to implement the UNEP Report? We should start looking at ways to produce tangible results rather than creating money making avenues for the âparty boysâ. The way forward: At the time of ignorance, God did not wink but now, let everyone repent. Those that lied, deceived, killed etc, let them turn from their evil ways and the God of peace will come down to Ogoni as we ask in Jesus name, Amen Ifeanyi Izeze is an Abuja-based consultant on oil politics and can be reached on: iizeze@yahoo.com; 234-8033043009)

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