There are indications that oil production will soon resume in Ogoniland as the people have endorsed an indigenous firm, Belemaoil to replace Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC).
SPDC had packed out of the area at the peak of the crisis between the firm and the Ogoni people in 1993.
Since then, the people had insisted that they would not allow Shell to return to the area because of the loss of more than 13 of their prominent sons, including renowned environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, in the crisis.
The decision of the Ogoni to allow the resumption of oil exploration in the area was contained in a five-point communiqué signed by the Chairman, Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, King Godwin Giniwa, and other traditional rulers of oil producing communities in Ogoniland.
The communiqué, which was read by the paramount ruler of Ogale community in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State state, Godwin Bebe-Okpabi, also endorsed an indigenous oil firm known as Belemaoil Producing Limited for the takeover of oil operations in Ogoniland.
The communique read: “We hereby accept, present, endorse and declare Belemaoil Producing Limited to all Ogoni people, Shell Africa, Shell Investor Group, the Federal Government of Nigeria, World Investors Finance Groups, Finance Group, United Nations, all Human Rights Support Groups, European Union.
“Ogoni oil is now open for exploration and production for Belemaoil Producing Limited. Shell, the Federal Government and all groups should kindly give all necessary support to making this historic event successful.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, the Chairman of Bodo Council of Chief in Gokana Local Government Area of the state, Chief Sylvester Kogbara, said the new oil firm had agreed to meet the demands of the Ogoni people.
“Shell was here for over 50 years and we (Ogoni) have not seen any tangible thing. You know the problems we have had with Shell over the years till we lost our leaders in the process of demanding for our rights.
“Shell has not responded and so we expect that the new company coming in will respect the rights, privileges and the tradition and culture of the Ogoni people,” Kogbara said.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers and Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, King Godwin Giniwa, lauded the oil producing communities in Ogoni for their unity and initiative, expressing the optimism that the signing ceremony will lead to total development of Ogoniland.