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Delta community insists divesting oil firms should cleanup, restore environment

The Niger Delta Oil Impacted Community Dialogue held on Saturday, July 16, 2022, in Olomoro community in Isoko clan of Delta State was quite an experience as participants raised concerns and shared their experiences.

Niger Delta Oil Impacted Community Dialogue
Participants at the Niger Delta Oil Impacted Community Dialogue

They narrated how oil exploration in Isoko began as far back as 1957 in Uzere and since then there have been series of oil spills without any cleanup done to alleviate the situation of the people. The most recent one occurred in Enwhe community.

The community people are insisting that, before IOCs leave, proper cleanup should be carried out on their land and that soil attenuation (digging holes into the earth to cover oil spills without properly cleaning up the environment) will not be accepted.

They remarked that the exploration of oil from the region over several decades has resulted to the pollution of the ground, low agricultural yield due to stunted growth of crops, contaminated water in the community, as well as challenges such as cancer, cough, congested nose, and chest pain, among others.

It was also observed that the community lacks functional healthcare facilities, electricity, the community people also experience the loss of some livestock, animals and fishes, as well as some economic trees such as Ogbono, along with cocoyam, plantain, amongst other crops that they fear are going into extinction.

After the discussions and observation, the Olomoro community demanded that Shell and the government should as a matter of urgency make provision for an immediate health audit, provide a functional health care centre as well as facility to generate electricity.

They also want proper oil spill remediation in affected areas, and that cleanup should be carried out in Isoko community as well as across the Niger Delta region of Nigeria which have been heavily polluted by hydrocarbons.

While demanding that appropriate environmental audit, evaluation and assessment should be done in Isoko community before divestment by the oil firms, they also want alternative sources of livelihoods provided for farmers and unemployed youths in Isoko community.

According to them, no company or entity in the Niger Delta region will be allowed to divest without first making reparations for the ecological and environmental degradations meted on the Isoko community and its surrounding clans.

Organised by Connected Advocacy, the event brought together representatives of impacted communities in Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Edo states to awaken climate consciousness among community heads, youth leaders, women, influencers, and key stakeholders to take appropriate actions.

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