Friday, June 6, 2008

"There is a total loss of confidence between Shell and the Ogoni people", and so "another operator acceptable to the Ogonis will take over. Nobody is gaining from the conflict and stalemate, so this is the best solution..."
- Nigerian President, Umaru Yar'Adua
In a stunning move that is sure to gain the goodwill of the Niger Delta, President Yar'Adua announced that Shell will no longer operate in Ogoniland. Yar'Adua announced this information while talking to a gathering of members of the Nigerian community in South Africa. The Ogoni people, who witnessed environmental and health devastation as a result of oil operations in their region, have hailed this announcement and are in support of Yar'Adua's decision. The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), a group of which the late-great Ken Saro Wiwa was a member and key leader, called the announcement, "a bold step that stands the brightest chance of quickening the resumption of oil activities in Ogoni."

Shell abandoned its oil fields in Ogoniland in 1993 due to the irreparable relationship between the company and the people of the land who protested the companies operations. The Nigerian Government has repeatedly told the company to resume work in the area, but it has refused. The government even threatened to withdraw the company's operating license if it did not resume operations by the end of May 2008. Consequently, those oil fields will soon be controlled by a new company which Yar'Adua says will be announced by the end of the year. Once this new story broke, Shell informed the media that it was not informed of this decision.

I personally believe that this move by President Yar'Adua is a positive sign of good faith to show to not just the Ogoni or the Niger Delta, but the entire nation of Nigeria that this administration will not only listen to the people but will also do what is necessary to solve the problematic unrest of that very important region.

When Yar'Adua became President, he offered an olive branch to the Delta and it was well received, resulting in a ceasefire announcement from MEND which I hailed at the time. That move by Yar'Adua spurred a tremendous amount of hope in Nigerians of all ages, tribes, religions and political leanings. I daresay that this current announcement and the support it has received from Ogoniland, MOSOP and apparent Yar'Adua spokesperson, Ken Saro Wiwa, Jr. will also serve to provide hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that in due time there will be a halt in the rash of violence that has held the Delta, and the entire nation, hostage.

I am hearing that the United Nations will indeed release Nigerian born Ibrahim Gambari to head the special Niger Delta Summit Steering Committee. This should further convince all necessary parties to the issues of the Niger Delta that this administration plans to address the problems decisively.

I, for one, extend a hearty hand clap to Yar'Adua for taking a step that from a first glance reinforces his administration's commitment to the protection of average Nigerians and their interests. On this day, with regard to the Niger Delta, there are nothing but good signs.

Hattip to Dr. U for the heads up on this story.

UPDATE (6/23)
: It appears that Gazprom and some Chinese oil companies are in the running to replace Shell in Ogoniland.

Further Reading:
- No Longer King of African Crude?
- The Global Food Crises, Nigeria & MEND
- Port Harcourt & Nigeria Under Siege
- Is Nigeria A Breeding Ground for Terrorism?
- Why Is The Breadbasket Always Empty?
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17 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Anonymous said...

As much as i am optimistic about the move, I think on this particular issue; I beg to borrow from the Cicero Himself (Bola Ige) and say 'I will sidon look' till January, 1, 2009.

[G@ttoGiallo] said...

This a good new indeed !

guerreiranigeriana said...

...interesting news indeed...i wonder who the new company will be and how they were chosen...i'll give a small clap, but i am on the fence until we hear who is taking shell's place and their strategies for rehabilitating the region...

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked at your optimism. You of all people should know that this tactic will simply be used to grease the palms and line the pockets of those who don't need any additional money.

Anyway, I think you are just looking for something good to come out of this and I cannot faultyou for that. As for me, I will hold on to my cynicism a little longer. No offense intended.

Dojaa said...

I am not sure that the people of the Niger delta are angry with Shell particularly...what about the environment and the unfair distribution of wealth.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Solomonsydelle,

Your President Yar'Adua certainly risked losing a big foreign investor by giving Shell the ultimatum and the final boot out of the country. But it was indeed the right move.

Of what use is an investor if they act above the laws of the country, the authority of its highest official, and most importantly, the welfare of the people? These are the arrogant types of investor who think nothing of the benefits to their hosts except the profits for themselves.

They are not interested in making friends, nor building relationships, nor helping a nation; they are only interested in making money. These are the ones who should be avoided for their only goal is to exploit; and they even have the nerve to be arrogant. It is capitalism in its ugliest face, and I'm glad your President did what was due to them - without being undiplomatic. He's on the right track. :-) --Durano, done!

wellsbaba said...

irony...d "feeble" yardy ejects "sturdy" shell

Nigerian Drama Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nigerian Drama Queen said...


I am happy that Yar'adua is making good on his promise to do something about the Niger Delta.

I am also happy that SHELL has realized that there are reparcautions for not maintaining the same standards in host countries (especially 3rd world one's) as it does in its home country and the western world in general.This is a shout to other multinationals..

On the other hand, I hope it will not be an opportunity for palms to be greased as Controversial pointed out...

Regardless, I thank God that there is a wind of change in Nigeria. Yes, things arent were we want them to be but they are getting better everyday.

So to all the other bloggers: instead of cynicism-why dont we begin to speak positively. Yes, we can call spades spades: but when we see changes-no matter how small, lets be appreciative of them.

Thanks Solomsydelle for keeping m updated on Nigerian haps!

shhhh said...

one of the attributes of a good leader ishe ability to listen to his subjects and execute on sound advice. shell has taken the piss for far too long. bravo i say

shhhh said...

also peeps you have to realise that a country like nigeria as complex as it is, may have to take a few steps backward to actually proceed. unless wrongs are corrected at the root cause there is no way forward. the chinese and japanese lost almost 30 years in the 40s to 70s. look at where they are now..........

Beauty said...

There are too many holes in this Shell story that makes it sound like business as usual in the FiGN (i = inept). Eyes wide shut makes this dream unpleasant for too many people. Until we see results on the ground, this is the usual, inconsistent and badly planned strategy. The Ogoni issue equals incredible opportunities but President Yar'Adua and the advisers seemed to have lost focus on the relationships between the near and long term goals.

Will removing Shell be justice served while the area is still contaminated with same old poor conditions? The crime of the Company’s dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished here does say a lot. But the problem has always been one of administration and good accounting. My other concern is simply that there is not enough transparency on any on going issues surrounding the Niger Delta while the people, land and rivers continue to suffer.

Leadership is a function of questions and legacy. To appoint Prof. Ibrahim Gambari to head the special Niger Delta Summit Steering Committee is unjust. Sowore Omoyele in 2005 wrote about The "un-disgraced" collaborator; If the Abacha repressive regime were a soccer team, Professor Ibrahim Gambari would be one of the "1st eleven players" or at least a quarter back on the reserve bench in the government squad.Though Abacha didn't play soccer, he certainly sat on a killer squad that faced down members of the opposition-all lovers of democracy, and ordinary Nigerians in and out of Nigeria-while his bestial reign lasted.

The UN blur about the longest serving Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations (January 1990 to October 1999) failed to mention his role in advising successive governments. In the meanwhile, news headline Gambari Not Acceptable, N-Delta Leaders Cry Out. Nigeria, What is new? is a reason to wonder why no news is good news.

webround said...

which comp will be acceptable to the Niger Delta people? the last time I checked, their fight was against the oil-majors not just shell in particular, the theory being they [all the oil comps] generally behaved the same way.

and shell quitting is not enough. what happened to the government functionaries who were supposed to play oversight functions? if they still do not do thier work, there will still be problems


@ Beauty: I understand where you are coming from. I think Controversial also suggested that this move to remove Shell could simply be another "same old, same old" tactic. It is only fair for Nigerians to be suspicious.

That being said, at this moment, I have to see the positive in this act and hope for the utmost best. I won't lie, I, also, was a little suspicious, but like I have said before, my mother's family is from the Delta and I want them to have a chance to a future that is not blighted by oil.

As to contamination, Yardy also pointed out that Shell will still pay compensation to families affected by pollution. I can only hope that this administration will announce a comprehensive plan to address pollution issues.

To your point on Gambari. I will confess a certain bias for Nigeria's top most diplomat/UN figure. Of what I know about him, I have to say I respect him, that is not to suggest that he is perfect, of course. But that being said, you make reference to the Abacha years and Gambari's "involvement". Are you accusing Gambari of playing an active role in the heinous acts of that regime? The reason why I ask is because as the daughter of a diplomat, I know that diplomats have the duty of representing their governments regardless of the issue and what their personal opinion might be. If Gambari was on TV arguing for the Abacha regime, it is because it was his job. Gambari is a diplomat and not a politician, and while one might have encouraged him to resign instead of lending credence to that regime, that is a very different argument than suggesting as Omoyele Sowore has done that Gambari colluded with 'the enemy'.

Now, I do not know Gambari personally, but I know that he is well respected by his peers and to me, he reflects the possibilities for all persons who are interested in working hard at their job/career. That is partially why he was runner up for Nigerian Curiosity Person of 2007. He has risen through the ranks and has applied himself to the benefit of Nigeria and the world, I would argue. I am hesitant to sully his reputation simply because he did his job under what must have been strenuous conditions considering what we all know about the Abacha regime.

Anyway, Beauty, I always appreciate your comments because I always learn so much from them. You are a one stop source of insight on Nigerian issues. Although I usually agree with you on most things, I am afraid I will differ from you and others on Gambari. I personally believe that we all know what we need to do to produce positive results in the Delta and another summit is not it. But, since that summit appears to be a surety, I am glad that Gambari is involved, and although some from the region will argue against his presence for whatever their reasons may be, I respectfully disagree with them and hope that for the sake of the Delta, a region I desperately love, they will set aside their opposition and come to the table to revise/create/improve the framework that will hopefully be used by this administration or future ones to solve the problems of Nigeria's breadbasket. We have to have hope that things will change because the minute we don't is the minute we stop applying ourselves towards making our country great. Although we may disagree, I know for a fact that you want Nigeria to become a great nation, so please let us continue to talk about how to get there together.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I'm not impressed with the removal of Shell. After all, the oil fields in Ogoniland have been abandoned for years. So the way the feds have presented the story merely a spin.

Is the fed ready to really enforce the operating laws and regulations of the oil and gas sector?

If we are serious about pollution/environmental degration why not close all onshore oil drills until the companies are ready to play decently?

Yes, we will lose big money, but we would have sent clear messages to the drillers to sit up, and the local community would see the sincerity of the government. To me this is the most viable way to deal with the Niger-Delta issue: Close the onshore wells and focus offshore.

On Gambari, I see another clever use of power.

What is the advantage of bring a man who is not familiar with the issues and terrain over someone who is local and can relate to the problems beyond just reading the briefs?

We have Utomi, Soyinka, etc if the feds wants a neutral person. Gambari has spent the bulk of his diplomatic carrier outside Nigeria, he is an establishment man. He is not going to make any difference. He has no moral capital to deal with locals.

Beauty said...

We have Utomi, Soyinka, etc if the feds wants a neutral person. Gambari has spent the bulk of his diplomatic carrier outside Nigeria, he is an establishment man. He is not going to make any difference. He has no moral capital to deal with locals. I may or not agree with people on the ground as neutral since you have ruled us, (you & I) out on the account of being outside. I do, however, support not having Gambari, a giant in the UN no doubt, but for whom the ghosts of Rwanda are still abound?

Powerlessness is a state of mind, and if people in the positions of power are unable to ascertain future steps, then we are in trouble. We have come a long way to get to this point, we need people that will see beyond the the past and face the best solutions for the Niger-Delta region as a whole. That is a key to our future.

t said...

Wow, I didn't hear this before: Shell out of Niger Delta - Holy Mackerel! I guess the uprising worked.
Can't say this is a bad move...but...who will replace them...and why Shell?
When are you coming to Naija?

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