Quasi-News & Commentary

by Wordworks2001
The four expatriate hostages taken during an attack on the Brass River Oil Terminal last Thursday, will be spending Christmas with their Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) captors, according to an email statement Reuters received from the shadowy group today.

“After this week, we intend to sever all contact they (the hostages) have with the outside world until Christmas Day, when they will be permitted one call each to family members,” the MEND statement read.

The three Italians and one Lebanese hostages are said to be in good health and the militants promised to care for them as best they can.

This has generally beenn the experience of the vast majority of the over 70 expatriate oil workers who have been kidnapped this year. Some were held for as little as a day and five were held for five weeks before released.

Usually these kidnappings are extortion schemes, often carried out by youth from communities that feel the oil companies have slighted them or criminals seeking an easy source of money. MEND says it doesn’t want money, but demands that two of the leaders who have ben jailed for months be released.
There are other problems affecting the lives of the indigenes and some oil companies in the Niger Delta. A fresh rift between two Ijaw groups might delay Shell Petroleum Development Company’s resumption of operations in the troubled western Ijaw areas.

The multinational oil firm was expected to resume operations soon since vacating the area in February this year. Recently, Bello Okoko of the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC), signed an agreement with Shell. The deal was brokered by the Delta State government.

But the fresh apprehension is on the heels of an allegation by the Front for Ijaw Survival and Hope (FISH) that another Ijaw group, Iduwini National Movement for Peace and Development (INMPD), was planning to foment trouble over the agreement with Shell to resume activities.

The INMPD claimed recently that the Oboko-led FNDIC had no right to negotiate Shell’s re-entry into its Western Area on behalf of the Iduwini communities, which it said wish to deal directly with the company.

But a statement by the FISH Director of Operations, Comrade Solomon Aloba, faulted the Iduwini claim, saying the latter communities were not party to the circumstances that led to Shell vacating and shutting down its operations in the area.

The group also claimed that the INMPD was only acting as a cog to the oil firm’s re-entry aspirations, which it says “is without prejudice to possible avenues for resolving its problems with the company.”

It warned that it would resist the alleged bid of the INMPD to squander the development gains recorded for the Ijaw nation by the FNDIC even as it accused the Iduwini/INMPD of being “used by Shell to break the feared monopoly of the FNDIC, which has successfully positioned the oil company to be more responsive to its social responsibilities to its host communities.
With so many players, each with different and often competing agendas, progress is a precious and all-too rare commodity in this intriguing and complicated problem. Every time a multinational company seems to have made a positive step forward with its relationship with pone organization, another group that felt slighted voices objections to the first deal.

Wordworks2001 is a retired US Army master sergeant. He lives in Indiana and works in Nigeria. He blogs at http://wordworks2001.blogspot.com

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