• Friday, May 24, 2024
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Coalition calls for action to resolve Niger Delta ecoside

The Coalition for a Cleaned Niger Delta, CCND, as part of a wider civil society and environmental leadership movement, has called on President Bola  Ahmed Tinubu, to uphold his sworn commitment to national renewal to resolve the environmental genocide in the Niger Delta.
The call was made in a statement jointly signed by Nnimmo Bassey, executive director, of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF and Otive Igbuzor, founding executive Director, of African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD)
The statement called on  President Tinubu to resolve the Ecocide (Environmental Genocide) in the Niger Delta, that increasingly threatens the continued existence of the entire region, undercuts the full economic potential of our country, and constantly hangs national security on high-risk levels.
The duo in their recommendations called on the President to issue an Executive Order creating a Niger Delta Environmental Remediation Programme and Trust Fund,  either independent of or domiciled in the extant Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) currently overseeing the cleanup of Ogoni Land.
With a separate Trust Fund from the Ogoni Trust Fund, an expanded Governing Council and an unimpeachable Management system designed to avoid the contradictions that have historically bedevilled HYPREP and the debatable progress of the Ogoni Cleanup
Other recommendations by the coalition include the adoption of the National Principles on Divestment and Decommissioning in the Nigerian Oil Industry in line with the one recently compiled by a wide coalition of community, civil society and international organizations, following extensive field missions and engagements in the Niger Delta.
FUNDING SOURCES: Combined with the Federal Government’s financial latitudes, the primary funding should be from the operators and JV partners in oil/petroleum leases, based on credible costings for remediation within their respective acreages and in line with the universal Polluter Pays Principle (PPP).
“Additional funding sources could include the Environmental Remediation Fund created but yet to be operationalized under the Petroleum Industry Act, gas flare penalties paid by operators,  part of the existing Ecological Fund, at least to cover immediate region wide impact and cost assessments, a portion of the statutory funds of the Niger Delta Development Commission, whose statutory mission expressly includes an ecological/pollution resolution mandate that is largely neglected since its  inception,  Decommissioning liabilities and restoring funds in oil mining agreements and  international environmental, climate and impact funds/resources that can be leveraged through appropriate strategies and channels” they said
They maintained that Halting the ecological genocide in the Niger Delta and other areas ravaged by the scars of extractivism is a task that cannot be postponed.
Adding that Nigerians rightfully deserve to live in a society that boasts of peace, human security, and prosperity in the conviction that all Citizens and Public Officers must make every constructive contribution towards truly attaining these goals.
“We call on Mr President and his team to do the needful and give Nigerians a safe environment to live and flourish in dignity.
They noted that the festering devastation has projected and ranked Nigeria’s Niger Delta among the worst oil and gas-polluted regions in the world.
“It would be noticed that NOSDRA’s conservative spill statistics do not include data for all of 50 (fifty) years from 1956 when Oloibiri Well 1 was spudded, till 2006 when NOSDRA was created.
“We also omitted gas volumes flared continually for 68 (sixty-eight) years, and the equally deleterious millions of barrels of toxic effluents/“produce water” discharged untreated into the rivers, swamps and mangroves as waste in the course of production. If allowance is made for these omissions and non-disclosures, easily one billion litres of crude oil equivalent have been released into the Niger Delta ecosystem as the price paid by communities there for Nigeria’s oil production.
The statement informed that “the catastrophic condition of the region’s environment is globally notorious and too well documented to require further reiteration.
“One of the latest expert reports on it (titled AN ENVIRONMENTAL GENOCIDE: The human and environmental cost of Big Oil in Bayelsa, Nigeria) was released two weeks before the inauguration of Mr President last May, by the high-level international panel constituted by the Bayelsa State Government, whose steering body includes former President John Kufour of Ghana, Baroness Valerie Amos (former UN Under-Secretary-General and UK Secretary of State), and the former Archbishop of York, Baron John Sentamu.
It further stated that the stack of shocking reports on the ecological destruction of the region from petroleum extraction, also includes the 2011 United Nations (UNEP) Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Report on Biodiversity in the Niger Delta, reports by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (commissioned by the oil giant, Shell, itself), the 1997 Niger Delta Environmental Survey (also commissioned by Shell), series of reports by Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth International, and studies conducted by the BRACED Commission (constituted by the Governments of Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta States).
“Considering the apparent failure of a long line of Presidents, Petroleum and Environment Ministers, and Chief Regulators, to recognize the indescribable gravity of this ravage, its severe socioeconomic and security repercussions for Nigeria, and to comprehensively resolve it, we invite Mr President to pay a spot visit, along with the relevant Ministers and Regulators, and possibly the National Security Adviser, to some of the following locations, which are too few as examples of devastation, to see for yourself
“Polobubo and Ogulagha in Delta State; Ibeno, Mbo and Ikot Ada Udo in Akwa Ibom State; Awoye in Ondo State; Bille, Obagi and Rumuekpe in Rivers State; and Gbarain/Ekpetiama, Nembe,Aghoro and Otuabagi (where Nigeria’s pioneer oil wells are located) in Bayelsa State.”
“Amidst the global dynamics of the 21st Century, and particularly in the context of climate change/action, Nigeria cannot continue to act as if ignorant of the importance of its biodiversity endowments and ecological imperatives” the statement read.
“There are many countries we can benchmark, which produce more oil, gain far higher revenues from it, but still jealously and profitably protect their environment and ecosystems. Norway which has a trillion-dollar Sovereign Wealth Fund from petrodollars (and population of 5.5 million, against Nigeria’s 228 million) is a prime example, but ensures its waters stay pristine, enabling its robust fishing and marine industries. Scotland and the UAE are others”
“We trust that Mr President and the government are mindful of Nigeria’s numerous commitments to international treaties and conventions, including those on universal rights, environmental and indigenous people’s rights, and climate change. Mr President’s commitments to a world audience at the UN Climate Conference (COP 28) in Dubai, UAE, barely four months ago are also fresh in my mind.
A genuine action to clean up the Niger Delta will be an excellent progress report for Nigeria, and particularly for Your Excellency, as the world gathers again at the next Climate Conference, COP 29, in about six months from now.”
“The protracted social injustice of funding national development at such extreme ecocidal expense of communities in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, or communities wherever else in Nigeria, needs to be urgently redressed, without any pretences as witnessed under previous Administrations.
With the ongoing divestment of their remaining onshore holdings in Nigeria by the major international oil companies (IOCs), and their huge outstanding environmental liabilities thrown into legal uncertainty, thereby portending further risks and escalation of social tensions for communities, the time for Mr President to act as the Protector-in-Chief of Nigerian communities is now.”
According to the very limited official records of Nigeria’s spill detection body (National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency – NOSDRA), there were 16,263 (sixteen thousand, two hundred and sixty-three) oil spills within the 17 years of 2006 to 2023.
This accounted for about 823,483 (eight hundred and twenty-three thousand, four hundred and eighty-three) barrels of oil spilt, equivalent to 4,103 (four thousand, one hundred and three) tanker trucks or 130,933,797 (one hundred and thirty million, nine hundred and thirty-three thousand, seven hundred and ninety-seven) litres of crude oil, from NOSDRA data.
 “These figures are a fractional slice of the reality, as they exclude 5,456 (five thousand, four hundred and fifty-six) spills for which the spiller companies did not provide NOSDRA with estimates of spilled quantities. Besides, estimates are usually and “understandably” grossly suppressed by operators. Data for some mega spills, like the Aiteo blowout at OML 29 that lasted for 38 (thirty-eight) days in November-December 2021, are also omitted.” The statement added