As reactions continue to trail the acquisition of Shell’s 45 per cent stake in OML 11 by Rivers State Government, Gbenekanu Mpigi, the younger brother of the Senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Barry Mpigi, has joined the long list of opposition to the plans by the Rivers State Government to takeover OML 11.
Mpigi during the weekend said that the plan to acquire the Ogoni oil fields without consulting the community people is “like the matter of forcing the horse to the river but you can’t force it to drink”, according to Cross Country Reporters.
Mpigi who lives in the United States of America said the approach and motive to resume oil production will not work in his native Ogoniland.
“I must tell you it won’t work in the sense that oil exploration can’t resume till there is genuine forgiveness on the sides of the government and Ogonis. There are issues align to that oil block that is yet to be ironed out”.
“First the issue of degradation and exploitation. Second is the death of Ogoni heroes that were campaigning for our environment but were tagged to have committed treason. People like, MKO Abiola, Al Mustapha, Gen Diya etc were at some point accused of such but today they are forgiven and all their rights restored to them. Why can’t the same treatment go to Ken Saro Wiwa and other Ogonis?”
He insisted that the government must apologize to Ogoni people and clear the trumped-up treason charges preferred against late Ken Saro Wiwa and others before thinking of returning to Ogoni for oil exploration.
“Personally as the executive director of Sustainable Ogoni People Initiative (SOPI) I’m not against the resumption of oil exploration in Ogoni. The fact is the Nigerian government MUST apologise to Ogonis and clear any treasonable allegation against late Ken Saro Wiwa and other Ogonis. Once this is done then the people will see that there is a genuine process of reconciliation and healing”.
“Even an artwork that was donated to the struggle in the name of late Ken Saro Wiwa has been seized till date. This matter has political, environmental and spiritual undertones and can only be resolved by sincere reconciliation”.
Mpigi advised the Governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike to rather forget Ogoni and look out for another viable source of investment elsewhere.
“Rivers state government can invest its money in any lucrative business in the world that will benefit the state and I’m not against them. In the case of OML 11, the Nigerian government MUST show true repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness and then negotiations with Ogonis can begin. Outside this, I can’t see any way Nigeria can commence oil exploration in OML 11”.