By Amaechi Okonkwo, Port Harcourt
Two prominent groups in Ogoniland, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and the Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates have disagreed sharply on a recent proposal by the Federal Government to build a mega petrol station in the area.
While the MOSOP rejected the mega station, insisting that it was not a priority need of the people, the Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates praised the proposal as a welcome move.
MOSOP, through its Publicity Secretary, Fagole Nsuke, described the proposal as laughable preferring instead the provision of potable water considered as critical by the people.
The group said Ogonis had made their demands very clear, saying that one of the critical needs of the people at the moment is the provision of potable water, the release of funds for the Ogoni clean up and not building of a mega filling station.
Making the position of MOSOP known in Port Harcourt, yesterday, Nsuke, stated; “at this moment Ogoni people are dying by the day because of the pollution in the land. And then if there is anything we expect the government to do, first is to restore the land.
“We expect the government to go ahead with the provision of water for the people because we have a situation where people are dying and you are talking about petrol stations which we already have. We need to set our priorities and for now the priority of Ogoni people is to have the land restored and that’s the point we are making”, he insisted.
He described as untrue the statement by some Ogoni stakeholders that the Federal Government had released funds for the Ogoni cleanup.
Nsuke said; “ Well it’s not the first time we will be hearing of funds being released for Ogoni clean up. You would recall that Amina Mohammed did tell us that the $1 billion for the cleanup is intact, so those are official lies. We are not concerned about that.
“What we are saying is that we want to see the funds in the Ogoni trust fund and we want to see the funds deployed to restore Ogoniland.”
In his reaction, the National Coordinator of the Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates, Gani Toba, lauded the government proposed mega petrol station as a welcome development.
He dismissed the rejection of the mega station by MOSOP, saying that the building of the mega station in Bori cannot stop the government from providing potable water and other needs of the Ogonis.
He said the people should rather accept the mega station while still insisting on other demands.
“Everybody in Rivers State knows that the Ken Saro-Wiwa Associates has always insisted that the provision of potable water for the Ogoni people is very important in the UNEP report.
“The same MOSOP that is rejecting mega station had connived with the Minister of Environment and looted Ogoni people’s money. And you know there is bunkering going on which the leadership of MOSOP benefits from and because they are benefiting from that and destroying our land, they know that the mega filling station will discourage bunkering.
“The station will create employment, people will get products and would no longer patronise bunkering. MOSOP was therefore not comfortable with the building of the mega filling station.”
He said his group was working with the Federal Government to build a semi loading point of petroleum products in Ogoniland as a way of creating employment and wealth for the people of Ogoni.
He said; “we have proposed to the minister to build a loading point or a semi loading point, whether in Bodo Waterfront or anywhere else in the area, these are avenues to create wealth for the people. People should understand that the Ministry of Petroleum is not responsible to clean up Ogoniland. We are talking with different ministries on different issues”.