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Ogoniland after Shell

By Sokari Ekine

October 04, 2008 

For 15 years the Ogoni people prevented Shell Petroleum from operating on their land. Finally in June the Ogoni won a victory as the Nigerian government agreed to replace Shell’s concession. This was an opportunity for the Federal and River’s State government to create a new dialogue with the Ogoni and other Delta nationalities on who operated on their lands and how they conducted their operations. But it wasn’t to be. As if Nigeria is incapable of working together with its citizens and recognizing the rights of people on their lands and environment, the government has gone ahead without consultation and worse brought Shell back in the disguise of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC / NNDC).    

The Ogoni consider the government’s unilateral engagement of a new operator or operators a further attempt to deny their stakeholder rights. If it insists on proceeding without consultations on operations and local communities’ participation and benefits in the process, it will provoke hostility and almost certainly resistance. A working relationship between any new oil companies and the local people has to be defined. Indeed, communities across the Delta are increasingly insistent in their demands for agreements that grant them rights in the exploitation of oil and gas reserves on their land.

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