Resumption of oil exploration in Ogoni by Nubari Saatah

Since Isaac Adaka Boro was assassinated at the tail end of the Nigerian Civil War, the only major resistance of the Niger Delta people against imperialist tendencies of Nigeria’s feudal lords has been the continued resistance of the Ogoni people. A consciousness which grew with a Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People led by Ken Saro-Wiwa and which permeated the entire creeks of the Delta while saturating in Ogoni. Attempts were made to kill this consciousness at its early stages with the execution of the group’s leaders, and war-mongering in the region financed and executed by government and international oil companies. And even that failed to cow the people.

Today, despite the many floundering of MOSOP in its quest to pick up from where the executed leadership stopped, the people have continued to fill that leadership vacuum by individually assuming that defiant posture against economic and political slavery that the resumption of oil activities in Ogoniland under the current feudal system will bring, like what the Nigerian state has put the rest of the Niger Delta under today.

It is no news that Nigeria is built around the violent exploitation of the Niger Delta people and her resources, and it is a social fact that elections, just like the recently concluded one, have always been about who would control the people of the region and their resources.

 

Since the President Muhammadu Buhari government came into power in 2015, there have been public rumours, corroborated in private, about the planned resumption of oil exploration in Ogoni. A member of the President’s family is said to be behind one of the companies lobbying its way to take over the exploration of oil in Ogoni. There are two companies presently in that category. Which of them is being pushed has yet to be public. Although it is public knowledge that these companies have been making inroads to the traditional rulers of the area through the usual means of gifts and monetary benefits, how they plan to succeed has yet to be seen.

The recently leaked memo purported to be from the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, ordering the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company to take over the operation of OML 11 from Shell makes for two theories: Shell is in a joint venture with the Nigerian government in the exploration of the Ogoni field and the NPDC taking over its operation is in no way different from Shell coming in through the backdoor like it has been planning to do for decades. The second theory is much more damning: it is that the NPDC is being used to set the stage for the President himself or any of his numerous surrogates- to make use of his discretionary powers to allocate the Ogoni well to the company with links to a member of his family, while the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill remains unsigned.

This recent action by the government paints a clearer picture of the grand deceit being trumpeted as the “Ogoni clean-up” to the national and international media. The very shabby and uncoordinated way in which a project of such importance and magnitude is being executed points to a hidden agenda whose pieces can now be said to be coming together in the public for the people to digest. It is probably the implementation of this scheme that has made the elections in Ogoni in recent times unnecessarily violent, leading to the death of many including an academic, Dr. Ferry Gbaragbe.

Whatever the intentions harboured by those who, in their stolen triumph, have been mesmerised to think themselves as gods, they should be circumspect in their actions. The Ogoni people have not been known to cower in the face of bullets, or other oppressive techniques used by the Nigerian state in collaboration with multinationals and pliant Ogoni, and it’ll be delusional to think that such cowardice will begin with this generation of the Ogoni. The Ogoni Bill of Rights remains the document of reference for this government if oil exploration must resume in the region; economic and political autonomy are at the crux of it.

That we were colonised by the British is unfortunate and remains embarrassing till this very day; that attempts are being made to do the same by those who were colonised alongside us is a thing of wonder and pure bravery. Crude can be slippery, I wish them well.

  • Nubari Saatah, Ogoni, Rivers State