Ken Saro Wiwa and Ogoni 8: Activists Call on FG to Expedite Action on Ogoni Clean-up

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BENIN CITY, NIGERIA. November 11, 2022… Environmental activists across the country yesterday called on the Federal Government of Nigeria, to expedite action on Ogoni clean-up, even as they called on Shell and other Multinational oil companies to pay compensations to the people of Niger Delta for the environmental degradation and destruction since 1958 which has exacerbated climate crises that have led to loss of lives and livelihood.

The call was made by Civil Society leaders at a virtual symposium on Oil and Gas extraction and its implication to Host Communities organized by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, to commemorate 27 years anniversary of the killing of rights activist and Poet, Ken Saro-Wiwa and the 8 Ogoni activists as they regretted that the crisis for which they were killed has remained unresolved.  

ANEEJ Executive Director, Rev David Ugolor, in his solidarity message, recommends strongly that investors in Oil and Gas sector should immediately embark on a fact-finding mission in collaboration with civil society actors to ascertain the true situation of the operation of Shell and other multinational oil companies in the Niger Delta. This, according to Ugolor is based on the fact that investors based in places like London and Washington are taking/shaping decisions that affect lives in Nigeria and beyond, largely based on reports from the oil and gas companies and their officials, which often are not correct account as is the case of Shell in the Niger Delta.

Assistant Programme Manager, SDN, Dr. Joseph Ekiye noted that the Ogoni Clean-up is some progress but too slow as samples of sand and water collected from areas said to have been remediated between January and June this year still had oil and condemned the shoddy job being done by poorly experienced contractors hired to handle the Ogoni Clean up.

National Coordinator, Publish What You Pay Campaign Comrade Otitolaye Taiwo, while joining his voice on issue of divestment and its implication to the Niger Delta as Multinational Oil companies exit onshore production recommends that multinationals should look beyond Corporate Social Responsibility and look into Corporate Accountability as it is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for the consequences of the environmental degradation, complete destruction of ecology, and climate catastrophe that has plagued the Niger Delta and Africa.

Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action, Barr. Chima Williams recommends that, to win the fight for climate justice, there is the need to build synergy with other CSOs and climate activists to reach out to the government and multinational oil companies to speak with one voice. With that, there will be no door that cannot be opened as it relates to climate justice which will ascertain a better Niger delta and Nigeria where our health and environmental well-being is not threatened.

Executive Director of HEDA, Olarenwaju Suraju noted that there was the need for Civil Society to ratchet up campaign to leave crude oil in the soil as over 70 per cent of Nigerians do not have benefit of oil and gas extraction, yet, live and livelihoods are lost, and the environment destroyed. He noted that the flood that swept through the Niger Delta isClimate Change partly attributable to impact of oil extraction activities.

Oluwaseyi Moses on his part recommends that the negligence of the legislators/senators from Niger Delta in climate and environment realities be examined and CSO should advocate for the need and urgency for them to own this process by actively collaborating with social and environment activists and bring related issues to the National Assembly for discussion. This, according to him will help to advance not only energy transition but the total cleanup of ogoniland.

Participants at the symposium frowned at the parlous condition of the Niger Delta for 27years after Ken Saro-Wiwa was gruesomely killed as the operations of Shell and other multi-national oil companies, rather than enrich the people of Niger Delta, have become a nightmare for the people as pollution from spills and gas flaring has led to the complete degradation of the environment, acid rain, water and soil pollution, destruction of  the source of livelihood and inflicted untold pain and hardship on the people. The clean-up of Ogoniland which commenced many years ago has not made any meaningful progress up until now.

Welcoming participants earlier, ANEEJ Deputy Executive Director and Moderator of the symposium, Mr. Leo Atakpu recalled with nostalgia the gruesome killing of Ken Saro Wiwa and other Ogoni 8 by the Abacha and wants Shell and other oil companies in the region to pay adequate compensations for the destruction of human lives, flora and fauna in the region. A minute silence was observed in honour of the Ogoni 9.

 Speaker after speaker lampooned the government and oil companies for not taking enough action to address the Niger Delta crisis which is perpetrating poverty and exacerbating the climate crisis.

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