Aug 24, 2011

Ogoni: Government Tackles Spillage

Spill dwarfs Gulf of Mexico but Nigerian government response is underwhelming

Below is an article published by Vanguard

The report of a joint venture study by the United Nations environmental programme and the Federal Government of Nigeria recently presented to President Goodluck Jonathan has copiously indicted the oil prospecting companies with particular reference to the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC.

The study which focused on the impact of the activities of the SPDC in Ogoni land, River State, Nigeria where oil was first struck in the 1950s now claims that it will take over 30 years to cleanse and mitigate the negative effect of the massive and continual oil spillage which has devastated the people of Ogoni land since these years.

And as if to refute the report of that study in a recent television speech, a top official of that company had blamed most of the oil spillages in Ogoni land to the activities of vandals and bunkerers, even though he also did not run away from the glaring responsibilities now facing his multinational outfit in redressing the apparent problem in conjunction with other stakeholders.

This startling revelation would have happened much earlier and addressed by the stake holders at a much cheaper cost and zero embarrassment like the recent Gulf of Mexico spillage in America which invoked even the reaction of the President of the United States of America, USA, Barrack Obama if there was no deliberate design to cover up the alarming disaster before now. The Gulf of Mexico oil spillage also attracted congressional condemnation, including the international community. The SPDC and the inhabitants of the Mississippi basin in particular may not have recovered from the shock of the incident.

President Jonathan, while reacting to the voluminous report which dwelt on the unfortunate and environmental degradation and human rights neglects of inestimable dimensions posed by the said oil spillage, promised that his administration would subject the report to a rigorous scrutiny in order to assist the people of Ogoni land in mitigating its effect.

The pertinent question which many Nigerians are asking is: Is it only in Ogoni land oil spillage has occurred in the country? Another question is: What is the fate of other oil producing communities and/or nationalities like the Western Izons, the Itsekiris, the Isokos, the Ndokwas,the Urhobos and others in Edo State, Rivers State, Cross River State, Akwa Ibom State, Bayelsa State, among others?

It is, therefore, likely that the current effort by the Uduaghan administration to conduct a similar study in Delta State is an answer to these questions. This courageous attempt by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan no doubt has gladdened the minds of many a Deltan just as it is capable of rekindling the confidence of the Governor’s detractors in addition to the unique project executed by the governor like the Asaba International Airport. More than anything else, this gesture will equally boost the new local content bill on oil and gas recently passed by the National Assembly.

It is expected that other oil-producing states will take a similar action.

The oil-producing nationalities in the Niger Delta have suffered enough in silence; the time has come for them to be extricated from the shackles of oil exploration and exploitation by the foreign multinationals.

Many Nigerians, especially those in leadership position outside the Niger Delta hitherto never believed what they described as cock and bull stories about the ravages meted out to the oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta until now that the United Nations, UN, a global apex organisation, has corroborated the claims of Niger Deltans.

Even the first rung of oil exploration which is the seismic data investigation which claims not to damage much of the areas they cover has been discovered to have actually destroyed the aquatic and the overall eco-system in their operational fields contrary to their claims. They are in the habit of paying paltry compensation, ranging from N50.00 to N1000.00 only for plundering several acres of food crops, fishing ponds, cash crops and polluting the fertile land of innocent and unsuspecting Niger-Deltans.This in my own opinion is an economic terrorism.

It behoves all deltans and other stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to support Gov. Uduaghan in this arduous task of unveiling the impact of oil spillage and other activities of oil production in Delta State.

Mr. Uche Emmanuel Nwadialorwas a member of the Delta State House of Assembly.