• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Pollution: Rivers’ women urge Fubara to halt oil firms’ divestment

Pollution: Rivers’ women urge Fubara to halt oil firms’ divestment

As oil companies set to divest in the Niger Delta, some women organisations and other non-governmental organisations have asked the Governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara to do everything within his power to halt the on-going process of divestment by multinational oil companies that want to live without ecosystem restoration.

The group made the call at a Press Conference titled: ‘Niger Delta women say no to divestment without ecosystem restoration,’ in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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In her presentation on behalf of the NGOs, Constance Meju explained that there are several community-based organisations and Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre that expressed their profound dismay at the attitude and the announcement by Shell Petroleum Development Company to sell off their on-shore assets to investors without necessary consultations with the communities that have suffered years of neglect and pollution from environmental pollution and degradation arising from the activities of the oil companies.

Meju maintained that in an ideal society Shell PLC can not have a plan to sell off their assets to a consortium of investors such as Renaissance Africa Energy, noting that OML 34 had already been divested to ND Western, OML 17 and OML 29 have been divested without due process and proper guidelines.

Explaining further, Meju who is also a journalist and publisher, stated that Nigerian Agip Oil Company, Exxon Mobil Nigeria Limited, and Total Energy Nigeria Ltd were poised to divest all their onshore assets without engaging host communities and correcting their mistakes by way of clean up all the damage done to the communities and the well-being of the people.

“We the affected women in the region are deeply concerned about this sudden divestment plans as both government and the oil firms have not provided any guidelines; there is no women development funds to support our long time suffering from oil pollution,” she said.

The statement among other things stressed the need for a total clean up of the ecosystem destroyed by the oil companies over the years, noting that the women play critical role in providing income through agriculture, farm produce and trading but the ecological degradation caused by oil extraction has over the years forced women to lose their livelihood thereby, leading to increase poverty.

They lamented that the new companies that will take over are strange to them.

“Rivers State governor should stop the divestment plans especially those in the state, gas flares still exist in communities in the state,” she pointed out.

In an interview shortly after the event, Efrebo Henry, one of the leaders told journalists that the purpose of the event was to sensitise the general public and register their protest against the inhumane plan against their existence as both farm lands, swamps, rivers and creeks are badly affected while the health of those leaving in the Niger Delta have been devastated.

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“This divestment is not in the interest of the community people, and we condemned it in totality,” Henry said.
“We call on the President of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu to ensure no divestment without ecosystem restoration,” he further said, while urging both Federal and State governments to mandate oil companies divesting to first clean up polluted sites to restore their livelihood.

Other organisations that signed the documents are Alauchi Women Development Initiative, Ibeno; Mba Okase Women, Eleme; Abua Women Association, Coalition of Ogoni Women Development Initiative, Otagbagi Women, Pius Dukor Foundation for Community Development and Advancement, Kallop Environment Centre, Relief International and OLEGH.