Ahead of talks with the presidency, the Chairman of Khana Local Government, Hon. Thomas Bariere, has said it’s impossible to hold talks on resumption of oil activities in Ogoniland without the governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike, participating and has expressed full support for the governor leading talks on the issue.
Speaking at a press conference Hon. Bariere said that he was shocked to hear comments that said that the governor should not be part of discussions over resumption of oil in Ogoniland.
The Chairman said: “We are shocked to observe that comments from certain quarters are to the extent that the executive governor of Rivers State is not supposed to be part of issues regarding OML 11 as affects the Ogoni area and our question is, is Ogoni not part of Rivers State? Who is the Chief Security Officer of Rivers State?
“Is it possible for an entity in Rivers State to have an understanding on a matter that has consumed several lives, a matter that has lingered for over 26 years such that issues that may fall out from there could cause serious crisis and then you want that discussion to go on without the involvement of Rivers State government. That is why as a government we are in total support of the Rivers State government ably led by Governor Nyesom Wike to take the lead in whatever discussion as it concerns any issue of oil in Ogoniland”.
He said he was taking the position with all sense of commitment and responsibility saying that the governor had shown capacity and unconditional love for growth and development of people of Ogoniland.
He also said that the governor had shown concern for the economic development and security of the people and described as enemy of the people anyone opposed to the position.
He recalled that ogoni leaders had visited the governor over issues bordering on resumption of oil saying that there had been reactions and counter-reactions after the meeting over choice of Governor Wike leading talks on the issue.
Answering questions he said that people should not fear the involvement of the state government saying that the government had shown commitment to development of Ogoni people.
He said: “If they (critics) are transparent they should not be afraid that Rivers State Government is going to be involved. We have seen Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike display boldness and we are confident that if he’s part of that discussion that the Ogoni people will smile”.
He said the state government could also invest in the oil saying that any investment would be by the state government not the governor.
“Moreso it is not Nyesom Wike. It is Rivers State government and Rivers State government is headed by an individual. Providence said so. If you are not happy wait and contest to be the governor of Rivers State. When you become governor then you now see what it is to be head of a government that is concerned about security and you see issues that can tamper with security and economic life of your people”.
Hon. Bariere said that asking the governor to lead did not mean that there were no leaders in Ogoniland.
He also said the involvement of the governor would not impede the involvement of Ogoni leaders saying that there would be broad-based discussion on the issue.
The council boss said: “We are talking about broad-based discussion. We are talking about broad-based consultation. Who are the stakeholders? You have Ogoni leaders. Across Ogoni leadership there are representatives in government. There are traditional rulers that use the traditional institution. There are elected representatives at the state level. There are elected representatives at the local government level. There are elected representatives at the national level. All of these various groups must be adequately integrated and of course you cannot do that in isolation because Ogoni is in Rivers State and Rivers State government is taking responsibility for security and economic development of Ogoni area”.
He said there should be no problem with involvement of the state government.
He said that the “selected few” who were against the decision had ulterior motive saying their plots would fail.
Ogoni leaders at a meeting with the state governor recently had asked that he should lead talks on discussion over resumption of oil activities in Ogoniland.
Hon. Bariere said that the governor was committed to ensuring that the “whole process is smooth, transparent and fair to all concerned” saying that “Ogoni people have queued behind Rivers State government to say we are open to discussion but the government of the state must be actively involved”.
Also speaking, a first-class traditional ruler, HRM King Barile Y. Deeborn, Gbenemene Ken-Khana Kingdom, said he was behind decision by Ogoni leaders and Chairman of the council.
The monarch said: “We shouldn’t be led into selfish interest. There’s nothing wrong in the decision of the leaders to see the governor to lead the team”.
He said that the governor was not demanding oil bloc but had been called upon to lead talks on resumption of oil activities in Ogoniland.
He said there was nothing wrong with the decision because the people of Ogoni must operate under the government.