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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Govt told to pay Ogoni ecological debt for decades of pollution

The Federal Government of Nigeria has been called upon to pay the Ogoni nation an ecological debt for decades of pollution, neglect of their polluted environment, displacement of her people and denying them justice.

Oil spill pollution
A water body in the Niger Delta polluted by crude oil

The Host Communities Network (HoCoN), which is also kicking against new oil well drilling, made the call in a communique released at the close of its National General Assembly held on April 14, 2021 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

While calling for a comprehensive environmental audit of the state of the environment by the Nigerian government with the help of HoCoN, the group wants all cases of extraction to accompany an EIA Report.

“The Nigerian government should immediately halt the drift to full blown tyranny occasioned by the growing cases of suppression of the rights of the people of Nigeria,” HoCoN demanded, even as it underscored the need for a Bill by states to revoke the licenses of IOCs that pollute the environment without adequate compensation to communities.

Besides urging government to speedily wade into the farmers and herders crisis as a security risk with the effect of reducing food sufficiency in various communities, they stated that agro-ecology and food sovereignty should be promoted as “they remain the bold future of farming and food systems that represents the best agricultural practices that are in harmony with nature and cools the planet.”

They added: “Government should halt continued gas flares, oil spills, illegal mining, deforestations, flooding, water contamination with chemical by companies and other environmental degradations in communities.

“Nigerian government must align with the global trend of using the gas flare tracker for tracking gas flare volumes with the relevant agencies collecting accurate gas flare penalties that can help the economic revival of the nation and in tandem with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.”

Before the National General Assembly, which was supported by the Global Greengrants Fund (GGF) and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), presentations were made by the Acting Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Barr. Chima Williams (“Human and Environmental Rights: The obligation of the state in preserving these rights”); Head of Bayelsa Office of ERA/FoEN, Chief Alagoa Morris (“X-Raying the Nigeria’s Environmental Challenges: Monitoring and reporting, who bears the burden?”); the CSO Representative on the Governing Council of HYPREP, Comr. Celestine Akpobari (“Community organising against environmental and human rights abuses”); and the Coordinator, Food Sovereignty Programme of ERA/FoEN, Barr. Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje (“A healthy environment, a healthy food system – the road to a healthy nation”).

The meeting, which had “Connected Resistance” as its theme, was geared towards strengthening the Host Communities Network by engaging the traditional members as well as infusing new ones into the stable, deliberate on the state of the Nigerian environment from communities’ perspective, drawing up advocacy action plan for effective environmental monitoring and reporting and to elect and inaugurate a new National Executive Committee.

Participants commended the input and contributions of ERA/FoEN since giving birth to HoCoN in 2007 and appealed for continuous assistance to enable the group stand and serve the purpose of her formation.

At the end of the discussions, participants observed that the host communities bear the brunt of environmental degradation from resource extractions but are not recognised in decision making and resource benefits sharing.

They also observed all sources of water in oil producing communities in the Niger Delta are exposed to oil pollution, forcing fishing activities to drop and crops experience stunted growth.   

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