A team of activists has resolved to resist and reject all forms of legislation by the National Assembly that fail to address injustices and human rights violations against the Niger Delta region by the Nigerian government and oil companies.
This formed one of the highlights of a communique released at the close of One Day Strategic Meeting of Oilwatch Nigeria (OWN) held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.
At the daylong forum aimed at planning and strategising for a new course in driving the affairs of the organisation, participants renounced and rejected the divestment of onshore assets by international oil companies from their onshore platforms to offshore locations, describing the act as illegal. They called on government to review all divestment programmes in the Niger Delta in the interest of oil companies.
The gathering likewise agreed to take an holistic approach to engage government and oil firms on issues of environmental pollution, climate change, divestment, food security, health, and water as they concern the environment and people of the Niger Delta in order to free the people and their environment from destruction by the extractive industries.
While observing that the impact of the oil and gas industry on the people and environment of the Niger Delta region is a life threatening and near extinction experience, the campaigners resolved to intensify the struggle to hold government and oil companies accountable for the environmental degradation and human rights violations caused by oil and gas industry activities in the area.
The forum further agreed to work in partnership and solidarity with fishers, and ecological defenders to resist and halt every form of destructive extractive activities in the coastal and marine environment of Nigeria.
Due to the destructive impact of oil and gas extraction on the environment and people of the Niger Delta region, government was called upon to pay more attention to environmental remediation and livelihood restoration in the area and declare the region an ecological emergency zone.
Oilwatch Nigeria members lamented that despite the dangers posed by gas flaring to the environment and people of the Niger Delta region, government appears to be paying lip service to the menace and at the same time collecting penalties from oil companies for gas flaring, while the communities in the Delta continue to suffer from the consequences.
“For over almost 20 years of democratic rule, the hopes and expectations of the Niger Delta region that government will address the human rights and environmental degradation in the area have been dashed.
“Environmental pollution caused by illegal refining and oil theft is a leading cause of health hazards in communities in the region,” the participants stated in the communique.
The participants also resolved to have a functional secretariat in Nigeria to pilot and coordinate the affairs of the network for the next two years. The Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre, venue of the meeting, was adopted as the secretariat of Oilwatch Nigeria Network for a two-year tenure.
A steering committee was also inaugurated to coordinate the network. The committee is made up of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Citizens Trust, We the People (WTP), Peace Point Development Foundation (PPDF), and Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).
Oilwatch Nigeria is a network of resistance to fossil fuels extraction activities in Nigeria and is aimed at halting and stopping further expansion of oil activities that have continuously degraded the environment and led to loss of livelihood for community people.