Nature Under Siege: Portrait of Environmental Crisis in the Niger Delta

Nature Under Siege: Portrait of Environmental Crisis in the Niger Delta
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Though the pace may be sluggish, but I believe we will get there. With democracy getting entrenched in many African countries, there will be gradual enforcement of checks and balances to checkmate the excesses of African despotic leaders.

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The continued detention of El-Zakzaky as you rightly called it, is illegal. Verdict upon verdicts by a court of competent jurisdiction has found him not guilty, and have asked Federal Government to set him free but the Buhari-led government disobeyed all the court injunctions. It is still with us. However, I am of the opinion that we can avoid that through building institutions strong and independent enough to enforce law and order.

Bassey worked tireless to convince the Nigerian government that the oil spills that occurred in the Niger Delta led to a genocide of the people of the Ogoni, an ethnic group living in the Delta. It's fair to say that without Bassey's struggle there won't be a cleaning project like the Ogoni clean-up, which is about to start soon.

Has the Ogoni-Project to clean-up the Niger-Delta already commenced? Nnimmo Bassey: The situation is that based on a repost of the program issued by the authorities in , there've been some kind of effort to get it on the ground, but it wasn't until August , that the actual administrative architecture for the clean-up project was set up.

By March the coordination and implementing team was set up and engaged. So it took quite some time to get it going so far. The administrative body that organises the clean-up and channels all the funding provided by the companies that caused all the polluting is called " Hydrocarbons Pollution Remediation Project " HYPRED and has started preliminary work.

What has been done so far are demonstrations of how the clean-up could be carried out, and also health assistance to the communities that are affected by the crude oil pollution. And I think they are now in the process of commencing an implementation of water supply to the communities. That is actually a kind of emergency action that should have been carried out much earlier.

In fact, there are two kinds of clean-up that a taking place in Ogona at the same time. One clean-up is based on a lawsuit against Shell by the Bodo community in Ogona, which was in a court in London against Shell for oil spills that happened in and Shell has taken complete responsibility for that oil spill, but they are also required to do a clean-up at the Bodo Creek, which has just started.

But the bigger clean-up, which should take care of all the polluted soil and water has not yet started. What has started are preliminary works, and I think that HYPRED right now is concluding an action plan or master plan, whatever you want to call it, to give an outlook of what will happen in the weeks and months to come. And as soon as that is concluded, I'm sure the clean-up will start very rapidly. What about the security situation on the ground at the moment?

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Expressions such as "Environmental terrorism" or "eco-anarchy" may sum up the state of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, in a bid to explain the indiscriminate. Nature Under Siege: Portrait of Environmental Crisis in the Niger Delta - Kindle edition by INIODU GEORGE-UKPONG. Download it once and read it on your.

There have been quite some concerns in recent years about militant local groups trying to blackmail government and to take foreigners, especially workers of the oil companies, as hostages. I think with regard to the clean-up, everybody has an agreement, everybody is involved and everybody is anxious for the cleaning to start. Therefore I don't see a security problem with regard to the clean-up. There are quite a lot of young people from Ogoni that are currently running a second stage of training to be part of the clean-up, they are exercising hardly.

In the Shell clean-up that has already started, there are about ninety percent of the workforce coming from Ogoni people. That is something that could develop very positively in the long run.

Everybody, every company that was involved in the oil drilling is involved in the cleaning. Shell, Eni and all the others, they are providing the finance for the clean-up. Well, that's a difficult question. About 30 Million people are living in that area. Ogoniland, which is only a part of the delta, is 1.

And there is still a lot of ongoing pollution in the Niger-Delta. So, the experiences of the clean-up in Ogoni will show us, what will possibly happen to other parts of the Niger-Delta. The UNEP report estimates tell that it should take about 25 years to clean the water and about 5 years to clean the land. That is 30 years of clean-up in total, and that's a long time. And that's why people can not wait to see the cleaning project to start. Is it correct that the Ogoni-Project is meant as a compensation from the government and from the oil companies for the genocide that was committed on the Ogoni people in?

That's a difficult question. Let's put it that way: the clean-up is a response to the undeniable fact of evidence-based output of the research carried out by UNEP in the region, showing that the environment is absolutely polluted and the drilling caused that horrific situation.

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Do you feel supported by the government, either federal or regional, in that situation? Well, it's a difficult situation now. The clean-up is organised by the government, and the state governments look at the people on the ground to make sure that it actually happens. So I think everybody is on the same plate with regard to the prospect having Ogoni and the Niger-Delta cleaned up. The only complaint is that things should happen more quickly. One Earth One Ocean is an NGO that provides assistance to the clean-up, they don't ask for payment or contracts from the government, rather they're providing training for the local people, and technology that is good for the environment, i.

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I've seen a demonstration of it in one of our community training programmes. And everyone believes that, with many organisations like that, that can bring assistance to the communities and to the people of Nigeria, they should be most welcome. Is the Nigerian government happy with NGOs coming from abroad to be part of the project? Or would they prefer to have domestic companies doing the job, since there's so much money involved in a project that could last 30 years or more?

I can't speak for the government. I'm not a business man, so I can't talk about this issue.

But I'm sure nobody will have to pay any bribes to be part of the Ogoni clean-up. Because all the people want the clean-up to be done profoundly. The clean-up is paid completely by the companies that caused the pollution, and they set up structures to organise and to monitor the process. There's no room for paying bribes.

He lives in Kiel, Germany. Many parts of the Niger Delta are severely polluted, str. Oil has been produced there since the early 20th century, the entire Niger Delta is very rich in oil. Today, there are mainly the major foreign oil companies represented there: Shell, Chevron, Agip.

Shell has got a special status in the meantime, because Shell does not drill for oil itself anymore, but manages its infrastructure, ie the pipeline network. And the pipelines are still a major concern. They are frequently damaged, and this is due to the systems getting older and also being inadequately maintained. The damage to the pipes thus often occurs as a result of age or material fatigue. In , there were more than reportable oil spills at Agip alone.

It can be assumed that the numbers look similar at the other companies. In addition, there are regularly attempts to tap the pipelines by Nigerian gangs living there in the jungle. They try to refine the oil themselves, thereby causing massive environmental damage. Everywhere oil is offered on the streets, even distilled to gasoline or diesel in illegal backyard distilleries.

Local people have to buy their drinking water in plastic bottles because all natural drinking water sources are contaminated. After all, it's not just oil that gets into the groundwater, but also some refined oil, like diesel. Those sources of drinking water can not be used anymore. And if the Niger does not carry much water, for instance outside the rainy season, and new pollutions occur, the water quality of the river also drops rapidly.

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As far as the flora is concerned, there is no more growth in those places where there has been massive contamination. Around, in the less contaminated areas, jungles grow. The big problem are the mangroves.