APC chieftain urges Tinubu to stop ‘illegal’ divestments of SPDC assets

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A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Blessing Agbomhere, has urged President Bola Tinubu to stop what he described as the “illegal” divestment of the assets of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Delta State to forestall fresh civil unrest.

Agbomere, a lawyer, said that SPDC’s assets in Delta State are being divested into a consortium of five companies comprising M D Western, Aradel Energy, First E & P, Waltersmith, and Petrolin.

He said the companies are operated by majority shareholders all from one tribe of the country, noting that this was contrary to the Petroleum Industry Act and the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The APC chieftain, in a letter titled “Halting The Illegal Development of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Onshore Petroleum Facilities By The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission To Renaissance Group,” addressed to President Tinubu and dated 9th May 2024, said he was representing the interest of the Niger Delta Indigenes through his clients, whom he said are not satisfied with the “callous action of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, which carried out an opaque process that resulted in the exclusion of companies owned by indigenes of the region.”

He said he had earlier written to the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to inform them of their infraction, adding that the right thing to do was to divest 50% of SPDC’s assets to companies run by indigenes of the Niger Delta region, as failure to do so might result in a new round of agitations and youth restiveness that will disrupt oil production in the region if President Tinubu goes ahead to approve “this unlawful and discriminatory act done by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.”

The letter reads: “Your Excellency is fully aware that SPDC is the largest fossil fuel company in Nigeria, which operates over 6,000 kilometers (3,700 m) of pipelines and flow lines, 87 flow stations, 8 natural gas plants, and more than 1,000 producing wells, and its operations have heavily contaminated the air, ground, and water with toxic pollutants from oil spills in the Niger Delta region.

“Your Excellency is also fully aware that sometime in 2023 the SPDC declared its intention to divest its onshore petroleum facilities and assets in the Niger Delta, following which several companies indicated and expressed interest, including companies with the technical and financial capability whose majority shareholders are indigenes of the Niger Delta.

“Sadly, these indigenous companies were overlooked, as a statement on the website of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) states that these onshore oil facilities and assets will be sold to a consortium of five companies consisting of M D Western, Aradel Energy, First E & P, Waltersmith, and Petrolin, companies whose majority shareholders are all from one tribe of the country.

“My clients are of the firm and unbeatable opinion that the SPDC and the Commission’s refusal to divest the onshore oil facilities of the SPDC to a company fully or substantially owned by a group of Niger Delta Indigenes is unfair, discriminatory, unlawful, and a flagrant violation of the spirit and intendment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Petroleum Industry Act, the Nigeria Local Content Act, Federal Character Act, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“The bidding, award, and divestment process of the SPDC facilities and assets by the Commission were shrouded in secrecy and irregularities without regard for due process as required by law.

“The manner in which this divestment is being done and the exclusion of company(ies) fully owned by Nigerians from the Niger Delta region, as persons who are directly suffering the effects of petroleum exploration activities in Nigeria, is a concerted and concocted plan to impoverish the people of the Niger Delta Region, and this act is capable of igniting strife and restiveness in the region that will threaten the National Security of our beloved Nation.

“As a result of the aforementioned, my clients are praying that Your Excellency uses your good, exalted, and powerful office to declare that the divestment of the SPDC’s onshore oil facilities and assets found and located in the Niger Delta Region to a consortium of five companies consisting of M D Western, Aradel Energy, First E & P, Waltersmith, and Petrolin, companies whose majority shareholders are all from one tribe of the country against the expression of interest by persons who hail from the Niger Delta region is a violation of Sections 15(1), 42(1), and 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Instruct SPDC and the Commission to divest 50% of the facilities and assets to a group of persons or a company or a consortium of companies fully owned by Nigerians from across the states of the Niger Delta region.

“Instruct the Minister of Petroleum Resources to halt and abort the divestment process until 50% of the said assets are divested to Nigerian citizens of the Niger Delta extraction.

“Do such other acts of kindness to ameliorate the sufferings of the Niger Delta people, the goose that lays the National Golden Eggs, and whose omelet is used to feed the Nation. We trust that as a Champion of the Renewed Hope Agenda, Your Excellency will consider the patriotism of our clients who have volunteered to represent the interest of the common and peace-loving people of the Niger Delta and give hope to the people of the Niger Delta who believe in Your Excellency’s ability to do justice to all Nigerians, regardless of their tribal affinity, by answering their prayers.”

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