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Daily Independent (Nigeria): No terms of reference for Ogoni, Shell reconciliation

Daily Independent (Nigeria): No terms of reference for Ogoni, Shell reconciliation: Wednesday 4th January, 2006  
By Odudu Okpongete
Senior Correspondent,
Port Harcourt
Despite the interest of several stakeholders towards ending the protracted rift between the Ogoni people and Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell, the Federal Government has not produced any clear-cut terms of reference to guide its reconciliation process.
Facilitator of the Presidential Committee on Reconciliation of Ogoni/Shell, Rev. Father Mathew Kukah, who disclosed this last weekend during a stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, said all he was asked to do was to reconcile the two parties and bring peace back to Ogoniland.
The cleric stated that his committee had produced a framework guiding the reconciliation where no individual or party would feel inferior, adding that the committee since its appointment in May 2005 has spent four months doing the underground work.
Stressing that the Rivers State government was bearing the financial burden for the process, he urged the Ogoni to take advantage of the situation by articulating their common position, adding that such opportunity might not remain with them for a long time.
“You have the opportunity, the challenge to more or less produce a template that can be replicated across Nigeria,” Kukah said, and thanked the youths in particular for their decision not to continue with the ways of the past.
In his speech at the meeting, the state governor, Dr Peter Odili, said since 1993 when the unfortunate events happened in Ogoniland, the people had lost some of her cherished sons to the struggle, and challenged the people to ensure that those who lost their lives would not have gone in vain.
Odili said the state government had no problem accepting Kukah as head of the committee considering his fearless stand on issues, stressing that as secretary of the defunct Oputa Panel, he is well abreast of issues concerning the Ogoni matter.
Earlier, the Gbenemene Tai, King Godwin Gininwa, Chief Barinua Wifa (SAN), and president of the Movement for Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr Ledum Mitee, pledged the cooperation of the Ogoni to the reconciliation efforts. According to them, conflicts had brought no progress to the area, and expressed regrets that such past efforts were marred by lack of trust and insincerity and thanked the president for setting up the committee.

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