N’Delta Group Kicks against Shell’s Divestment Plan, Insists on Remediation

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

An indigenous group under the aegis of the Forum Against Niger Delta Exploitation (FANDE) has kicked against the planned move by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to sell off all its onshore oil assets in the Niger Delta region.

The group in a statement signed by its spokesperson, General Gboloko, insisted that before divestment, the Dutch oil giant must ensure a proper remediation of the Niger Delta environment.

The indigenous group led by Henry Okah, stated: “We shall not sit and fold our alms to allow Shell sell off all of its oil assets within the Niger Delta territory to their cronies in the name of a certain consortium of five companies, leaving the host communities as the biggest losers after years of suffering from impact of environmental degradation, unemployment, poor or no infrastructure and others.

“We have been quiet all these years with regards to issues about Niger Delta for obvious reasons, given the incarceration of our leader in faraway South Africa; but now, has been given the mandate by him to speak and act henceforth.”

The group said that having carefully reviewed the latest development, as well as Shell’s over six decades period of operation in Nigeria, especially within the Niger Delta territory, they therefore have found it necessary to speak with regards to the issue at hand.

According to the group, the planned move by Shell has exposed the depth of inhumanity of the multinationals operating in the Niger Delta region and further shows that they has learnt nothing despite their conflicts with some of its host communities in the Niger Delta especially in Ogoni land, and recently in three communities of Kula Kingdom in Akuku-Toru LGA of Rivers State.

“To this end, the Forum Against Niger Delta Exploitation will resist the further moves by Shell or any other oil multinational to continue the trend of exploiting and enslaving our people or the degradation of our territories without any tangible benefits, infrastructural or human capital development of the Niger Delta people and communities,” the group said.

In the statement made in Port Harcourt, the group demanded that Shell should give a first right of refusal to divest some of its assets to indigenous firms whose operational bases are within the catchment areas where the SPDC’s assets are situated in the Niger Delta.

They listed some of the indigenous firms to include: Century Energy, Fenog Nigeria Limited, Belema Oil Producing Limited, and any other indigenous firm which has proven themselves fit to earn the trust of its host communities and is qualified to handle the facilities and convert same for the economic benefits and transformation of the areas.

They further stated at that the people in the region will no longer accept being treated as second class citizens where their areas would only be good enough for operational bases for oil exploration activities.

“Failure to heed to our demand would be viewed as an invitation to anarchy, as we shall make sure that none of the so-called companies under the consortium that make up ‘Renaissance’ would be allowed entry into any part of the Niger Delta territory to commence oil exploration activities,” it said.

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