Say we can’t give a legal license, but we have social license to say no
By Egufe Yafugborhi – Port Harcourt
Ogoni oil-producing communities in Rivers State on Wednesday declared that any oil firm desirous of resuming exploration in the area must come to terms with the people before enjoying the freedom to operate whatever license secured from the Federal Government.
Barituka Loanyie, President, Ogoni Oil Producing Community Youth Forum (OOPCYF) said in Port Harcourt that this “critical notice to prospective oil companies” have become imperative as competition for a license to resume oil production in Ogoniland intensifies following decades of stoppage of exploration since 1993 exit of Shell from Ogoni.
Loanyie said: “We are not against anyone endorsing one oil company or the other, but that does not speak for the interests of the Ogoni Oil Producing Communities.
“We can’t give a legal license, but we have the social license to ensure that irrespective of whoever wins license to operate, we do not suffer the deprivations, neglect, intimidation, environmental degradation, and underdevelopment we suffered under Shell.
“Ogoni oil communities support genuine efforts at resuming oil exploration in our land, as it will boost economic activities and engender greater youth engagement and empowerment in the area.
“But in supporting oil resumption, we have not endorsed any company. Any company interested in oil exploration in Ogoni land must consult with critical stakeholders and the Oil Producing Communities in Ogoni first.
“Our people will decide what is good for us in the template stating our priorities to any company interested. OOPCYF will support only companies ready to protect the interest of Communities. Our people have suffered enough.
“Among our terms, whoever wants to come must be genuinely committed to pushing for the Ogoni Cleanup and a clear template outlining to accommodate stakes that guarantee a better life for our people.”