allAfrica.com: Obasanjo Moves to Reconcile Ogoni, Shell: “President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday personally led the campaign to reconcile Ogoni people and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Limited as part of his efforts to restore peace in the Niger Delta region.” (ShellNews.net) Posted 2 December 04
This Day (Lagos)
President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday personally led the campaign to reconcile Ogoni people and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Limited as part of his efforts to restore peace in the Niger Delta region.
Speaking at the Rivers State Stakeholders Forum held at Government House, Port Harcourt, during a one-day working visit, Obasanjo promised to play a key role in facilitating reconciliation between Shell and Ogoni people. He urged the Ogoni people to open negotiations with the oil companies in the area, particularly Shell so there could be lasting peace.
The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) had been at logger heads with oil firms operating in the area, especially Shell. MOSOP president, Ledum Mittee, was at the meeting which was not open to newsmen.
While commenting on the president's gesture on the Ogoni issue, the External Relations Director of SPDC, Mr. Precious Omuku, in a telephone chat re-iterated the oil firm's commitment to lasting peace not only in Ogoniland, but in the entire Niger Delta region.
According to Omuku, the company hopes that the president's call will be an important step towards lasting reconciliation.
"SPDC welcomes the call today (yesterday) by President Olusegun Obasanjo for reconciliation in Ogoni. That will be to the benefit of all Ogoni people, SPDC and the country," said Omuku.
"We commend the president for his initiative and we look forward to working with all Ogoni people, other stakeholders and the Presidency, to make this initiative a success," he added.
Shell pulled out of Ogoniland in 1993, following rising wave of unrest in the area. But the company said it would not re-enter the land until all stakeholders reached a peace accord.
Only last week, youths believed to be MOSOP members engaged police in a scuffle while demonstrating at the Shell office in Port Harcourt.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had reported that the country has been losing some 1,068 million barrels of crude oil every week in the last one month due to community related crisis in the Niger Delta region.
Although newsmen were barred from covering the forum, sources told THISDAY that the President also expressed his dissatisfaction at recent developments in Rivers State, which used to be peaceful but has been giving the government sleepless nights because of the activities of militia groups.
The sources further disclosed that Obasanjo also warned cultists and militia groups in Rivers State to hand over all their guns before the end of December.
Obasanjo who noted that there were about 15 militia groups in Rivers State cautioned that anybody who refused to hand over his guns before the end of the year will be seen as being in possession of illegal arms and ammunition.
The President observed that most of the militia groups were being manipulated by politicians, lure of money and community leaders.
THISDAY gathered that among those who attended the meeting were the leaders of the warring groups, Alhaji Mujahid Asari-Dokubo of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF) and Mr. Ateke Tom, leader of the Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV).
It was gathered that before the stakeholders forum, Obasanjo had also threatened to deal decisively with any youth or group which got involved in acts that disrupt the peace of the state.
The President expressed concern that most of the youths were involved in gang or cult activities, armed robbery and other anti-social activities.
Obasanjo who said he has forgiven them on their past sins cautioned them that he will never forgive them again if they go back.
"I am asking all of you to be of good behavior. The sins of the past have gone, a new dawn is beginning. I am asking all of you to be of good behaviour," he said.