By Chukwudi Ejimofor, P/H
The anticipated forceful reopening of OML 25 by the Rivers State Government met bricks walls when the host communities organised World Press Conference to made public their stand on MoU signed by SPDC and other group from their communities.
The Press conference which held in Kula kingdom was made to beam to the world how SPDC, the operators of the oil facilities, for 40 years has neglected the area, and the adverse consequences to the wellbeing of the host communities.
The Amanyanabo of Kula, King Kroma Eleki said “The existence of Shell SPDC in Kula has impoverished the Kingdom. They failed to honour every MoU signed to developed the indigenes and the communities. Shell is demonic. My position is that their oil mining license should revoked and give another company, if possible Belema Oil Producing Limited, who is an indigene of the Kula.
ALABO Fiala Okoye Davies Secretary, Belema Council of chief, their spokesman said “it is equally true that for almost 40 years of it’s operations of Oil and Gas, SPDC has not only failed woefully in discharging its Corporate Social Responsibilities, but has also destroyed our aquatic lives via its continuous oil exploration and gas flaring without any remediation or clean-up plan. This pathetic situation has left our community completely impoverished, while battling with terminal diseases as a result of the highly polluted water we drink from. Our farm lands polluted with massive oil spill, our social lives battered and deranged as a result of SPDC’s divide and rule operating style, empowering one group that sees their ill-operations as good to fighting those who are opposed to their unfair and wicked operating pattern.
Davies further stated their demands “we demand that Shell oil mining license of the oil facilities should be revoked and hand over to an indigenous operator that will develop the host community.
That Security agencies in the the country should not be used by the Rivers State Government against the host communities.
That President Buhari should set up a fact finding committee to see the level of neglect, backwardness and sufferings of communities that have hosted Shell for 40 years. The peaceful dialogue that has been orchestrated by NAPIMS and the office of the Vice President should continue.” Okoya stated
At Offion-Ama community, the spokesman Alabo Ibiosiya Nath-Sukub, Chairman Offion-Ama Council of Chiefs opined “No employment from SPDC, no health facilities, education, roads, water and basic amenities are in oblivion, life is unbearable and the government is ignorant to our plight. Our sin is that we voted for President Muhammed Buhari for sake of probity, accountability and proficiency as against probligacy”.
Offoin-Ama community demanded that;
A major road project from Degema to Kula and its adjourned communities should be commenced immediately, with a reputable Contractor.
And the right of first refusal should be given to the community on the divestment of OML 25, or the operational right be given to Belema Oil Producing Limited.” Nath-Sukubo contended.
All the communities Journalist visited the were no presence of School, Electricity, Health care facilities, pipe-born water.
Recall that on the June 25th, 2019 the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike directed disputing parties to resolve issues and re-open the facility in 7 Days.
When contacted Shell on these allegations, Igo Weli, SPDC General Manager External Relations stated that “The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd-operated Joint Venture (SPDC JV)’s commitment to the welfare of host communities in the Niger Delta remains unshaken, even as we debunk every allegation that we neglected the development of communities in Kula kingdom and Belema in Rivers State.
“The host communities of OML 25, including Belema and Offoin-ama have continued to benefit from contract awards, employment of unskilled labour and our social investment programmes, including yearly award of regular and special scholarships to eligible candidates from the area.
“Notwithstanding that SPDC has divested its equity in OML 24, which covers most of the communities in Kula and Belema, the SPDC JV has continued to implement agreed Social Investment programmes such as scholarship and entrepreneurship schemes for the communities there. With the divestment of its interest in OML 24, SPDC relinquished operatorship of the facilities in that field.
“On the continued forceful occupation of the SPDC JV’s Belema oil and gas flowstation these past two years, SPDC JV hopes for a peaceful resolution of all issues to enable us to resume safe operations of our Belema oil and gas facility.
“We ask all stakeholders to give the government-led mediation process the needed chance for a peaceful resolution and to protect the health, safety and security of all concerned, including community members, SPDC staff and contractors and the facility.”
At the wake of 10th August, 2017 saw the stoppage of oil production at the OML 25, when the host communities took occupation of the oil field that produces 25,000 barrels per day, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in their enclave.
The present unfold scenarios has shown that there are more to be heard before the reopening of the OML 25 that Nigeria government has lost the revenue of about $1.170 bn, more than 18 million barrels of crude oil due to the 23 months dispute.