Press Conference Speech by Auwal Ibrahim Musa (RAFSANJANI) on Behalf of Civil Society Leaders Calling For a Halt to Sale Of Shell’s Shares In SPDC

Location: National Assembly of Nigeria, Abuja

Date: Monday, February 26, 2024

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, esteemed colleagues, and all gathered here today,

I am Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC). Today, I have the privilege of speaking on behalf of a coalition of civil society leaders, brought together by the concerted efforts of Social Action Nigeria, CISLAC, the Africa Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Stakeholder Democracy Network, Civil Rights Council (CRC), Praxis Academy , Transparency International Nigeria, Transition Monitoring Group ( TMG) , policy Alert and several other Nigerian and international organisations.

We are here to address a matter of profound urgency and significance—the proposed divestment of Shell from the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) in the Niger Delta. This divestment, which involves the transfer of Shell’s stakes to the Renaissance consortium, presents us with a critical moment that could shape the future of the Niger Delta and its people for generations to come.

The Niger Delta, as many of you are aware, has borne the brunt of environmental degradation and social injustices for decades, a direct consequence of the oil exploration and production activities in the region. The planned divestment by Shell, without a comprehensive resolution of these long-standing issues, poses an unacceptable risk to the region’s ecological integrity and the well-being of its communities.

In response to this critical situation, our coalition, representing a broad spectrum of civil society organizations and community leaders, has submitted a joint petition to President Bola Tinubu. This petition, endorsed by over a thousand signatories, calls for an immediate halt to Shell’s divestment plans until a transparent, inclusive, and just review process is undertaken.
Our demands are clear and grounded in the principles of justice, sustainability, and community welfare:

Immediate Suspension of the Divestment Process: We insist on pausing Shell’s divestment until there is a thorough review that addresses the environmental and social legacies of Shell’s operations in the Niger Delta.
Accountability and Transparency: Shell must be held accountable for its historical environmental and social impacts in the region. We demand a clear and transparent process that ensures accountability and remediation before any transfer of ownership.

Strengthened Regulatory Framework: We call upon the Nigerian government to enforce robust regulatory measures to protect the rights and interests of the Niger Delta communities during and after this divestment process.

Community-Centric Approach: The voices and concerns of the impacted communities must be at the forefront of the divestment process. We advocate for fair compensation, meaningful engagement, and concrete commitments to remediation.

Environmental Restoration Fund: We propose the establishment of a fund, contributed to by Shell, dedicated to the environmental restoration and sustainable development of the Niger Delta, managed transparently and with active community involvement.

National Principles for Responsible Divestment: We urge the adoption of comprehensive principles to guide the divestment process, ensuring it adheres to the highest standards of transparency, inclusivity, and accountability.

Our gathering here today is not merely a formality; it is a resolute call to action. The stakes are high, and the implications of Shell’s divestment extend far beyond the immediate transaction. It is about securing a sustainable, just, and equitable future for the Niger Delta—a future where the environment is restored, communities are compensated, and social injustices are addressed.

We stand united in our commitment to the Niger Delta, and we will continue our advocacy until our demands are met, and the region witnesses the dawn of a new era of environmental restoration and social justice.

Thank you for your attention, and we count on your support in this critical endeavor.

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