There have been mixed reactions to Monday’s claim by the Rivers State Government that it had acquired 45 percent interest in Oil Mining Licence 11 (OML 11) belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited in Ejamah Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area and other parts of Ogoniland.
Governor Nyesom Wike had in a broadcast to the people of the state disclosed that the state government acquired part of the licence in the overriding interest of the state given that the local people were determined not to allow Shell return to Ogoniland to prospect for oil.
A former Chairman of Yorla Oilfields Communities in Ogoniland, Lebari Mike-Lube Nwidobie, said it was strange that the state government was dabbling into oil production. “Government should go and build industries not to dabble into oil production. Let Wike go and build industries and roads, which he has not been able to build,” he said.
Celestine Akpobari, a civil rights activist and former chairman of Khana Local Government Area, warned Governor Wike and even the Federal Government on the implications of entering into Ogoniland to prospect for oil. “Wike and the Federal Government of Nigeria should be reminded that Ogoni oil has blood on it. There was a struggle,” Akpobari said.
Another indigene of Ogoni community, Sogbeye Eli said, “What I can’t even understand is how the state governor can announce such takeover? Where did he get the powers to do so from when petroleum and the mining rights thereof are in the Exclusive List of the 1999 Constitution? I smell strong deceit in this whole grandstanding.”
Basil Nkpordee, another Ogoni said the attempt by the governor would fail. “I think they are taking us back to the road of 1994. Our God will put them to shame,” he said.
Monday Tor-ue said so long as the Ogoni were yet to get to the end of their struggle any effort for oil mining to return to Ogoniland would be futile. “Those people surrounding Buhari and Wike should advise them wisely.”
“The political mathematics of segregation played on the Ogonis is beginning to manifest,” said Tambari Digika. He said it was curious that a state governor that had political differences with the Federal Government could land such deal. “These guys had a sinister plan from the onset pretending there was a quarrel but knew exactly where they were heading. How did the governor achieve such a feat in this current architecture of the federal government without the consent of the latter? The unfolding drama is about to come.”
Similarly, Eenyie Sira said the governor could have his hands burnt in this deal. “Wike couldn’t withstand the heat from that of OML 25 is it that of Ogoni he can? Someone should tell him that he will be melted by the heat.”
According to Leton-Alex Ndoo, it had become clear that the only interest that government had in Ogoniland was the oil. “Their only interest is Oil and nothing else.” Wike in a brief state broadcast said his administration has also made a $150 million bid for the purchase of some other interest of SPDC, now placed on auction by extant Order of the Courts of Law on the lease.
He said the deal was in best interest of the state. “It has become unlikely that for peace and security, the people of Ogoni in Rivers will welcome SPDC on their land forming part of OML 11 over decades of conflict with host communities which has forced Shell out for past 25 years.”