By Ovie Okpara, Omajemite Don
If the information at Ejes Gist Media is anything to go by, it, therefore, means Nigeria’s economy will suffer a serious setback.
The Urhobo Nation has joined other ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta region threatening to shut down oil and gas facilities in the region over alleged exclusion in the bidding process for the 57 vacant marginal fields by the Federal Government.
It, however, said it had since given 14 days ultimatum to the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) through an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari a week ago to immediately terminate the ongoing bidding process for the fields.
Urhobo is host to several critical oil and gas facilities, including the multi-billion dollar Utorogu Gas Plant which is the biggest gas plant in Africa.
Their threat is coming barely 24 hours after Ijaws of Gbaramatu Kingdom and their Itsekiri neighbors gave similar threats to cripple oil and gas operations in their domains.
They alleged that the current bidding process is skewed to exclude Urhobo people from participating in the ownership of the marginal fields domiciled in their communities.
The people spoke through the Campaign for the Economic Survival of Urhobo Nation (CATESUN), a group championing the economic interest of the Urhobo people of the Niger Delta.
National President of CATESUN, Olorogun Ese Kakor, gave the warning on Monday during a press conference in Warri, Delta State.
He warned that nobody should take the peaceful disposition of the Urhobo people for fear or cowardice, stressing that Urhobo people like other ethnic groups in the region have the capacity to cripple oil and gas facilities in the region.
Olorogun Kakor flanked by other prominent Urhobo youth leaders including Olorogun Victor Ohare, Chief Morris Idiovwa among others, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow the relative peace which his administration has achieved in the region to be scuttled by enemies of Urhobo and other ethnic groups in the oil-rich region.
They contended that the people of the Niger Delta especially the Urhobo must be given special consideration in the bidding process for the 57 marginal fields as their people have not been given the opportunity to own or operate oil and gas derived from their land.
The group in a media conference held Monday, in Warri, vowed to shut down oil and gas activities in their areas in a week’s time if the Federal Government refuses to heed to their cries for “fairness and justice”.
He warned that if the government does not heed their demands by July 20 by reordering for a fresh process for the 57 marginal oil fields, such decision “will be met with an equally stiff resistance” from the Urhobo people.
Kakor emphasized that a new process will give competent Urhobo men and women the opportunity to participate in oil and gas activities fairly, having “endured injustice, since the discovery of crude oil in their lands”.
Kakor stated, “CATESUN is using this medium to repeat the call to President Muhammadu Buhari to call his officers in the oil and gas industry to order because they are the architects of this potentially combustive situation, which has the capacity to set the entire Niger Delta on fire again.
“Mr. President, the Minister for State for Petroleum Resources, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Director-General of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), is at the verge of jeopardizing your sweat over the Niger Delta through this illegal back door ceding of the 57 marginal fields, excluding Urhobo people from the process.
“If by July 20, 2020, this unjust, inhuman and definitely satanic process of giving the 57 marginal fields out, with the exclusion of Urhobo people is not terminated, the Urhobo nation will take the definite action of shutting down all oil and gas operations going on withing her territories. This is not an empty threw, but a clear national action plan, ready for execution. Enough is enough!”
On his part, Chief Emmanuel Shobor, national leader of Niger Delta Initiative for Actualization of Peace and Development, lamented that despite contributing largely to the national purse, Urhobo people continue to be schemed out from participating in oil exploration, through one means or the other.
“We have the oil resources, we have the gas. If they will not listen to us that means they are not ready to explore our oil again. We are going to shut down everything. If they sweep our agitation under the carpet, from July 20, they will hear from us,” Shobor warned.
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