…And Governor’s Right Of Intervention
Since Austin Tam-George defected to the All Progressives
Congress (APC) he has tried to please the powers that be in the political party
and, in fact, the Federal Government. He has elected to fault the actions, even
when good, of those he considers enemies of the APC.
Recently, he took on the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike,
for intervening in the Oil Mining License (OML) 25 conflict, wherein the APC
Federal Government renewed the operating license of Shell Petroleum Development
Company ( SPDC). He, however, forgot that, last year, he defended Shell and
called out Governor Wike over the planned relocation of the supply base of
Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) from the Oil and Gas
Free Zone, Onne, Rivers State, to Lagos.
It is obvious that the former information commissioner was
not aware of several efforts that Governor Wike made to stop that relocation.
The governor had met with the top management of Shell Petroleum, Nigerian Ports
Authority (NPA), Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) and other relevant
stakeholders over planned relocation of the supply base of SNEPCO from Rivers
to Lagos. To him, the interest of Rivers State is paramount at all times. He
takes actions to enhance the overall interest of the state.
The facts on OML 25 are very clear. The facility was shut down
in 2017 by some persons who were allegedly primed by an interest group. The
Rivers State governor made no attempt to intervene since the interest group
claimed that an indigenous operator had also applied for the operating licence.
In October 2018, the APC Federal Government, through the NNPC, renewed the
operating licence of SPDC. This operating licence will remain valid for the
next 20 years.
The position of the Rivers State governor is simple. Due
process of the law must be observed at all times. The company with the
operating licence for OML 25 should be allowed to carry out its legitimate
business. He stated that, if the indigenous firm is able to obtain the
operating licence from the APC Federal Government, then the state government
will fully back it. But at present, the operating licence of the SPDC has been
renewed by the APC Federal Government. This renewal was not facilitated by the
Rivers State governor. The only thing the governor has done is to continue to
promote a conducive investment environment in Rivers State. He has continued to
create the right environment for international and local investors to operate.
The governor will never lay credence to illegal acquisition of businesses under
any guise. There are laid down procedures for operating any oil facility.
The process initiated by Governor Wike was managed by the
secretary to the Rivers State government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo. He is an indigene
of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area. All stakeholders of the facility
participated in the process to ensure that the concerns of the stakeholder
communities were duly addressed.
Stakeholder communities of OML 25 and SPDC have signed a
memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the re-opening of the closed flow station
and the payment of outstanding funds owed stakeholder communities under the
extant Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU). The MoU signed between Shell
and the communities also mandated Shell to pay into a dedicated account the sum
of N1.36 billion.
The settlement agreement was signed on behalf of the
communities by traditional rulers, youth presidents, chairmen of community
development committees and community leaders. Those who signed the agreement
include the stakeholder communities of Kula, Belema, Offoin-Ama, Ibie-Ama, Boro
and Opu-Kula. Shell and the other stakeholders have played their respective
roles in the agreement reached at the settlement meetings facilitated by the
Rivers State governor.
Aside from the OML 25, Governor Wike has intervened in
several other challenging issues between host communities and business
concerns. Most of these issues have been resolved amicably. The governor
intervened in the dispute between Mgbuesilaru community of Obio/Akpor Local
Government Area and SPDC. The matter has been finally resolved and SPDC has
paid Mgbuesilaru community their outstanding debt.
Indeed, on June 13, 2019, Governor Wike met with chairmen of
cluster development boards of Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru and Degema local
government areas, oil companies and security agencies at Government House, Port
Harcourt. At that meeting, Governor Wike directed the immediate revival of the
state steering committee on cluster development boards.
He said: “I will not support any company not to carry out
its corporate social responsibilities to their host communities. However,
communities must not take laws into their hands. They must not stop production
by the operating companies. Such actions will negatively affect the finances of
the Federal Government, the state and the local government areas.”
He said, in cases where companies failed to act within the
expectations of the communities, the state government would mediate through the
steering committee on cluster development boards, which has been inaugurated by
the Secretary to the Rivers State Government.
The meeting of June 13, 2019, led to the release of the oil
rig of Eroton Oil and Gas Limited by the host communities. Both parties
resolved their differences at the meeting.
Issues of development and social services for the state are
also being handled by the Wike administration. It is an ongoing process. Kula,
like all other communities, has been accommodated by the administration.
As usual, Tam-George feigned ignorance when he accused
Governor Wike of collusion with Shell. Is he saying that the APC Federal
Government colluded with Shell in renewing their operating license? This is
because it was not Governor Wike that renewed the license.
Our country is suffering today because of actions and
comments of individuals who dance to every tune, depending on what they have to
gain. They never look at the bigger picture. In engaging the process, Governor
Wike took into consideration the needs and future of the stakeholder communities
of OML 25. He is governor to all Rivers people and he is exercising his mandate
for the good of all, Kula inclusive.
•Nwakaudu is SA, Electronic Media to Governor Wike.