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Reject Planned Sale of Shell Onshore Activities, Says Ogoni Group Leader, Nwinee

United States-based organizations, including the National Union of Ogoni Students International (NUOS INT’L USA), the Center for Democracy, Human Rights, and Anti-Corruption International (CDHRAC INTL USA), and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), have persistently raised concerns about the environmental degradation of Ogoniland, Rivers State, Nigeria, attributing it primarily to oil companies, notably Shell Oil. In this interview, Mr. Pius Barikpoa Nwinee, President of NOUS INT’L, USA, shared his perspectives on addressing the pressing issues in Ogoniland.

Can you provide an overview of the current environmental situation in Ogoniland and the specific challenges faced by its residents?

A short overview of Ogoniland situation is chaos, disaster, slow walking genocide and extinction of our land and people by the Royal Dutch Shell corporate greed , negligence and reckless degradation violence. That is why we have consistently and repeatedly asked the Nigerian government to declare a state of climate and health emergency in Ogoniland so that the ongoing outbreak of radioactive of benzene in our water, air, food could be controlled. A call that is in alignment with the Nigerian government primary duty to protect Ogoni lives abd property from both internal and external aggressions. That has long been ignored or foreclosed by the silence and inaction of the government.

What are the major environmental and social consequences resulting from oil exploration and exploitation in Ogoniland over the years?

The major environmental and social consequences of oil exploration in Ogoniland and her enclaves is that our peo- ple and land are facing extinction, premature morality rate and destruction of our history and historical heritage.

How has the proposed sale of Shell’s onshore activities in Ogoniland impacted the local communities, and what concerns does the community have regarding this transaction?

Shell’s attempt to sell our oil is nothing but daylight robbery, betrayal, slowly waking Ogoniland into perpetuate extinction, genocide, slavery without help to cope with a problem the people did not create. The people has no choice but to fight back, because no one sells a such property in this case oil. Ogoni oil is Nigerian oil and Nigerian oil is Ogoni oil. This is why we are respectfully confident that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Nigerian government will not approve that Shell should sell our oil and pass the bulk to other Shell’s pseudo because the President does not have the power to put Shell purported oil sale ahead or over the Ogoni and Niger Delta. Also, the President has no power to immune or shield Shell from either civil and criminal cases going on in Nigerian courts. So what Shell is asking President Tinubu to do is for him to violate the Nigerian constitution so that Shell can run away, but I’m confident that Mr. President would not do this. Shell is not immune from prosecution or would not be shielded from her wrongdoing.

Can you elaborate on the efforts made by Ogoni-American organizations, such as the National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS) Int’l USA, in addressing the environmental crisis and advocating for the rights of the Ogoni people?

What NUOS INT’L USA, CDHRAC INT’L USA and others are doing is to shine light on the environmental chaos, disaster, degradation and violence in Ogoniland so as to draw the attention of the international community to the Royal Dutch Shell daylight robbery and deception of Shell because the company preaches what she does not practice. Shell is the greatest hypocrite corporation in the world that is why money from the Nigerian oil under Shell operation and control finds its way into foreign banks all over the world. Shell cannot run away and live Ogoni in the mess we found ourselves, this is on one hand. And on the other hand, NUOS INT’L USA has done so much for Ogoni and we shall not stop now. The study on Ogoniland by UNEP is the brainchild of NUOS INT’L USA before we dragged Shell to the highest court in the US, where Shell has no choice, but used her parents government to get justice. So, in the next few days, weeks, months or years, Shell will have to change its name or the name will be a nightmare or history in the world.

What legal actions or court cases are currently underway to address the liabilities of oil companies, particularly Shell, in Ogoniland?

Shell has a lot of cases in high courts, and Courts of Appeal. How- ever, some of these cases have been in courts for over 19 years or so. Justice may have been delayed, but it would not be denied. So Shell should not be ahead of itself because declaring Shell persona non grata in Ogoniland was and still is the greatest achievement of the late Ken Saro Wiwa and MOSOP. Shell might attempt to run, but shell has no hiding place.

How do you envision the role of the Federal Government, under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in resolving the environmental challenges and promoting the well-being of the Ogoni people?

The Federal Government has two faces here, though it is wrong for a government to have two faces at the same time. But time has come for the federal government to define it- self either as a democratic or an autocratic that uses law or unjust law. The federal government, under President Bola Tinubu, has a chance and opportunity to showcase leadership to the Ogoni people by hiring an international professional with experience and technical know-how. They should get a firm that has the capacity for complex knowledge, best practices in deforestation and coastal erosion to handle the destruction of the soil and using of dangerous chemical in washing the soil through which HYPREP has been cutting conner and declare a state of climate and health emergency in Ogoniland. The government can approach a risk- based insurance and company and key into Africa disaster risk programs. If our environment is not properly cleaned to international standards, though we do not oppose oil resumption in Ogoniland, there will be no any oil resumption in the area. Oil production can only take place in a safe environment.

In your view, what specific measures should be taken to ensure that the Ogoni people receive fair compensation for the devastation caused by oil companies in the region?

The specific measures Ogoni people expect is first of all, Shell must change its self serving mentality that we want to share profit with them. They should pay rent, royalty and lease that due to us and genuinely clean the mess in the land, exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni activists, stop listening to those second grade Ogoni politicians and back off from its behind closed door plan to sell our oil.

Could you shed light on the collaboration with the United Nations and the call for a state of climate and health emergency in Ogoniland?

What outcomes do you hope to achieve through these initiatives? When we say that the Federal government should collaborate with the United Nations to declare a state of climate and health emergency in Ogoniland, we know what we are talking about. The Federal gov- ernment stands a chance to gain more than Ogoni people because there are a lot of international remediation firms or risk- based financing insurance or Africa risk disaster program that could send relief aids to Ogoni. But Nigeria is poor, not because she’s poor, but we are poorly managed. We certainly hope that President Tinubu will rise to the occasion because Ogoni people have suffered much.

How can international firms with expertise contribute to containing the environmental crisis in Ogoniland, and what role do you see for them in mitigating the radioactive outbreak?

International firms with professional experience and technical know-how can treat the degradation, violence and the radioactive outbreak of benzene or hydrocarbons in our water, food, air and more importantly treat human being who are now walking corpses that are suffering from breathing poisonous and contaminated air. They have the tools, technology and the technical capacity. Take a look at the Gulf of Mexico, and by the way, who told Shell that it can sell onshore oil and control offshore. Shell is a hypocrite and she will destroy our offshore the same way she destroyed our residential homes.

Considering the economic challenges faced by Nigeria, how do you propose balancing environmental conservation and economic development, particularly in regions like Ogoniland?

The economic challenges faced by Nigeria and the environmental conversation are interrelated and interdependent or inseparable because the hard economic challenges Nigeria faced are by product of poor environmental conversation. Farming and fishing are more or less not providing enough for the people, sometimes they get little or nothing in return because our of environmental challenges on our area. Regrettably, there is nothing to balance in Ogoniland now. Ogoniland is an ecological war zone and the people are slowly going into extinct, yet, Shell claims it has oil to sell and run away.

What lessons can other nations and environmental advocacy groups learn from the experiences of Ogoniland to prevent similar environmental degradation in their regions?

The possible lessons other nations and environmental advocate groups need to learn from Ogoni and degradation violence is that globalisation has several meanings. While corporations are talking about global initiative and global commitment, they should ensure that they open the discussion of global local integration and best practices so as not to turn their homes to backyard of pollution.

What message would you like to convey to the international community, especially concerning the need for support and collaboration in addressing the environmental crisis in Ogoniland?

Our message to the international community is simple. We believe in the global initiative and global international commitment to tackling climate change squarely by President Joe Biden of the United States of America. We also strongly believe in global integration of host communities or local population . By that I mean the international community must ensure that risk- based insurance financing are set aside to prevent future disaster and cushion the immediate danger on ground Finally, Ogoni oil is not for sell or transfer and we respectful ask President Tinubu to reject Shell’s closed doors deal and not to violate Nigerian constitution.

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