BusinessDay

Wike to lead Ogoni stakeholders to negotiate OML 11 with FG authorities

...Ogonis seek strong voice to stop the NPDC ...But opposing interests begin midnight meetings to foil it

The Oil Mining Lease 11 (OML-11) known as Ogoni oilfield is in the news again as a non-Ogoni has been appointed to lead the Ogoni leaders to meet with the Federal authorises over resumption possibilities. Ikwerre-born Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State, may break such a record as a section of the Ogoni people have visited him in Government House and nominated him to lead.

Other factions have however, felt alarmed and have called for night meetings immediately with newsmen expecting counter announcement soon after.

Governor Wike is growing very strong as an opinion leader in the south and many people without strong voices have continued to rally round him to speak out for them.

Wike, however, had led the state government to attempt to acquire the oil field that has been bedevilled by crisis over the decades leading to death of the Ogoni 13, including Ken SaroWiwa.

The Ogoni stakeholders were said to have met with Wike and unanimously agreed that he leads a multi-consultative forum to discuss with Federal Government on the planned resumption of oil production in OML 11.

The stakeholders said the choice of the governor was aimed at preventing saboteurs who may want to adopt divide and rule tactic to cause crisis in Ogoni at the detriment of the people.

Briefing journalists after the closed door meeting held at the Executive Chambers of Government House, Port Harcourt Thursday, former President of the Movement for the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mitee, said the meeting with Governor Wike was sequel to the meeting a delegation of Ogoni leaders had with President Muhammadu Buhari a couple of weeks earlier in Abuja.

According to him, the Ogoni delegation to Abuja discussed a number of issues and it was important to brief Wike on those issues.

“We reviewed the outcome of that meeting and we, as a people, resolved that the issues that were discussed are such that required partnership with the state government.

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“In other words, we felt that the Government of Rivers State and Ogoni people would work together to pursue some of those issues that were raised as outcome of that meeting, specifically on the issues of OML 11 and resumption of oil.

“We felt that it required some sustained and painstaking consultation process which must involve the State government as partnering with us and its leadership on how we will go together to work. So that, some divide and rule will not be exploited to the detriment of our people,” Mitee said.

In his briefing, Lee Maeba, a senator, said the Ogoniswere resolved to file behind the leadership that will be provided by Governor Wike concerning the setting up of a multi-consultative forum.

Maeba said that President Buhari had issued directives, particularly as it has to do with the OML 11 thelicence of which has been granted to NPDC, there is need for the NNPC to consult and dialogue with Ogonis.

“So, this meeting today was the Ogonis coming to tell the governor about that and we have resolved that the governor must lead the multi-consultative forum to discuss with the Federal Government about any issue concerning OML 11 resumption or non- resumption of oil. So, we are united under the state government, “Maeba said.

On his part, Senator Olaka Nwogu said they were resolved and had willfully given authority to Governor Wike to offer the leadership that will serve as a pathway to multidimensional, multigroup and elicit multi-organisational response to the oil issue in Ogoni land.

On his part, Senator Barry Mpigi said before any further discussion with the Ogonis, the Presidency should quickly complete the East-West Road and expedite action on the clean-up exercise.

A prominent Ogoni women leader, Priscilla Vikue said her people were united and would not allow anyone pass through back door to take Ogoni oil.

BusinessDay gathered that some groups have tagged the effort as the governor’s party step, saying the opposition party sympathisers would never accede to this. They said a counter-voice would be expected in the coming days.

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