Some Niger Delta groups including South-South Youth Leaders Forum, Coalition of Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities, Rivers State Youth Federation, Union of Ogoni Youths Worldwide, Edo Youth Council and Ijaw Lawyers Association have accused Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of blocking their people from concessions in the oil and gas business by insisting they would only deal with those that had done business with them whereas the region had been denied such opportunities.

In an open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, the groups said that “we are compelled to make this urgent call as to absolve ourselves from the long arms of prosperity which shall constantly hunt our conscience should we stay indifferent in the face of gruesome injustice against our (Niger Delta) land and people.

“Sir, we have been patient for many years watching and hoping that you have addressed the injustice which former President Olusegun Obasanjo meted on the entire people of Nigeria, especially targeting the people of Niger Delta.

“When on assumption of office he sold off the 130 oil concessions (being all that was left in the country), in such a questionable manner and to the detriment of the Niger Deltans as no single Niger Deltan was allowed to take part in the process, talk less of benefiting, except for northerners and his kinsmen in the West who were favoured, to the total exclusion of persons and entities from the Niger Delta region.”

The groups, therefore, called on the President to address the issue in order to avert crisis between the people of the Niger Delta and the SPDC.

In another development, the oil company due to the divestment of its operations has commenced a retrenchment exercise. In June last year, the company announced a strategic review of its operations in the eastern Niger Delta, pointing out that it could result in the divestment of some of its interests.

Precious Okolobo, spokesman of Shell Nigeria, who confirmed that “a process of staff engagement for those potentially impacted in the event of a successful divestment has begun and will continue over the coming months,” said that “the company actively manages its portfolio across the globe to ensure the ‘strategic fit of assets and to maximize their value for our shareholders, government and communities where we operate.”

Johnson Alabi
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