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Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com: An article by MOSOP Coordinator, Dum-ale Tanee: No to Shell!

By Dum-ale Tanee
MOSOP Coordinator

The recent statement published by Bussinessday Friday June 8, 2006, credited to Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Edmund Daukoru that Shell Petroleum Development Company will soon resume oil exploration and production activities in Ogoniland is very disturbing. I considered such statement from Edmund Daukoru, reckless, irresponsible and out of place.  There is no way we will let Shell into our land under any name or pretext. This is because Shell had every opportunity to make peace with the Ogoni people before the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa the great, and 8 other activists but it chose not to do so, therefore it remains “persona non grata” in Ogoni forever.                                                       
Ogoni people do not want Shell, rather it is Shell that needs Ogoni and the entire Niger Delta for its continues existence in Nigeria, and that is why the company should put on a human face while dealing with its host communities. Shell, one of the main financiers of apartheid in South Africa and the killing of Ogoni people in Nigeria has no respect for human rights and lives.  The company may have been responsible for more deaths in the Niger Delta than every other known disease in the area combined, that is why it continues to stand on the way of any environmental impact assessment study.     
Despite billions of dollars that Niger Delta has produced to the government and the oil companies, the region has yet to see any development. Could Edmund Daukoru point to any successful development programmes that has been undertaken to address the needs of Niger Delta?  The answer is NO.                  
Therefore, if denying the Ogoni people a fair share of their oil revenue after over $30b dollars worth of oil revenue have been taken from their land and killing them for demanding it is not evil, then according to President George Bush, “evil has no meaning.”

We do know that Shell wouldn’t have been able to go this far without the Nigerian government failing to protect us (breach of “social contract”), therefore, we are not prepared to entrust our resources in the hands of a government that has failed woefully to protect us. Our demands as contained in the Ogoni bill of rights (OBR) which is a permanent solution to our problems must be fully met before any oil activity could commence on our land.          
Also, as part of their strategy to create conflict in order to exploit, the River State government inaugurated an unknown group called the Ogoni Youth Council (OYC) late last year to enhance the return of Shell to Ogoni without meeting our demands. The so-called OYC headed by one Mr. Marvin Nobana has only less than 1% of its members from Ogoni, while the rest of them are non-Ogonis military personnels recruited and armed by the government with the order to kill anyone that stands on the way of Shell, but Ogoni people are not going to be detared by such threat.
Just recently, its leader Mr Marvin Nobana announced that Shell can only be allowed into Ogoni if Governor Peter Odili is voted in as the president of Nigeria, Punch newspaper, Thursday June 15, 2006. There is no credible Ogoni youth organization in our land that will make such a reckless statement. National Youth Council of Ogoni People (NYCOP) is the only grassroot youth organization that speaks for the entire Ogoni youths and it cannot make such reckless statement anywhere.  

In fact, there no connection between who becomes the president of Nigeria and the Ogoni demands, therefore, not even an Ogoni president could return Shell to our Land. Our demands are more important to us than who becomes the president of our country because of the history of the rulers of Nigeria. 
While we respect the right of Dr Peter Odili to vote and be voted for, Ogoni oil or the return of Shell cannot be used by anyone to score cheap political points because our people want to see our demands fulfilled before any oil activity.  
The only reason why the government of Nigeria wants to forcefully return Shell into Ogoniland without meeting our genuine demands is to take advantage of the high oil prices to raise production level in order to make more money. Our demands meant nothing to them, therefore, our people will resist such move.  

In another development, as part of its “policy of containment” the government of Nigeria has spent a reasonable percentage of the extra cash coming to the country from the rise in oil prices to buy arms to kill for oil, including financial and military incentives from some industrial countries. This development is very sad because the people of Niger Delta still want their oil sold to these countries, so there is no reason for such incentives. 

Let us not forget that the interest of the Ogoni people and the entire Niger Delta is as important as that of those who buy our oil, the government of Nigeria and the oil companies, and it must be protected.
The current wave of violence in the Niger Delta today is deliberately instigated by the Nigerian government and the oil companies to provide them the opportunity to inflict as much suffering as humanly possible on our people. These companies tend to benefit so much from conflict or instability which has been very common in all the rich regions of Africa and beyond. 
Not only has the government embarked on failed, underfunded coordinated development programmes such as Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB), Oil Mineral Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC) and the present Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to make it look like it is doing something, but has also spent huge amount of our oil money on arms when our country is not at war with any nation. If these arms are not to kill our people for oil, who are they bought for?
Also, the President, Olusegun Obasanjo’s recently released “nine point agenda” for the development of Niger Delta has no element of development in it. It is basically a military solution to the problem which has always been his position.                               
To further show that Nigeria is in favor of military solution to the problems of Niger Delta, just January this year that Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State called for the establishment of more Naval bases in the Niger Delta, the government of Nigeria has established three more bases to make it four in the region. If the government has responded the same way to our genuine demands, considering the huge contributions we make towards the economy of our country, there would have been no problem(s).        
And finally, the people of Niger Delta are not comfortable poor people that will sit by and watch Shell, the  government and others smile away with billions of dollars of our oil money while we continue to live in abject poverty. We deserve better. Therefore, it is time for lovers of peace around the world, heads of government, nations, individuals and groups, including the UN, EU etc to prevail on the government of Nigeria and the oil companies to take urgent steps to address our demands.                    

Dum-ale Tanee 
MOSOP Coordinator, Kansas City Chapter, USA/ P.R.O.NUOS Intl, USA

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