Social Actions and Nigerian groups organise mass rally against fossil fuel and pollution
Mass #Breakfree Actions in Ogoni, Nigeria. On the 30th of March 2017, hundreds of climate activists, as well as concerned and affected Nigerians, joined ongoing actions around the world aimed at pressing home the need to address our dependence on fossil fuels which poisons our planet and threatens to eliminate all of us. This problem is even more pungent in Nigeria where the effects of fossil fuel-related pollution and climate changes are emerging as major disasters. From sea level rises that threaten to consume whole coastal lying communities to crude oil pollutions which continue to deprive many of viable livelihoods, the continued extraction and dependence on fossil fuels has devastating consequences for Nigeria and especially the Niger Delta.
Stakeholders and communities in the Nigeria’s oil-bearing Niger Delta have urged the Buhari administration to demonstrate political will by effectively addressing the issues of oil theft and artisanal refineries in the area. Representatives of civil society organisations, traditional rulers and other community leaders, academics, oil companies and government agencies at the National Conference on Oil Theft and Artisanal Refineries in Nigeria, organised by Social Action Nigeria, in Port Harcourt, agreed that the artisanal refining of crude oil constitute the greatest immediate threat to the environment in Niger Delta today. They urged the government to deploy adequate means to address the related social and environmental problems, without criminalising community youth. Participants unanimously called for prompt and decisive steps to curb the dangers posed by illegal oil bunkering and artisanal crude oil refineries to both the region and the country’s economy.
Welcome address by the Director of Social Development Integrated Centre (Social action), Dr Isaac Osuoka, at the National Conference on Oil Theft and Artisanal Refineries, Le Meridien Hotel Ogeyi Place, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Tuesday, 21 March 2017.
On behalf of the organisers, Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) and Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), I welcome you to this National Conference on Oil Theft and Artisanal Refineries in Nigeria. We also thank the Ford Foundation and Development and Peace – Caritas Canada for supporting this conference and our work to promote resource justice in Nigeria.
Representatives of communities, government agencies, citizens groups, oil companies and researchers gather in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, 21 March 2017 to address ongoing ecological disaster, livelihoods and revenue losses and insecurity associated with crude oil theft and artisanal refining industries in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.
Isaac ‘Asume’ Osuoka, Director of Social Action, reflects on the challenges of researching oil pollution and resource governance in Nigeria
“Why is the mortality rate in Bodo so high?” That was a question posed by Ben Naanen, a professor of history at the University of Port Harcourt. “Every weekend, there are numerous funerals in Bodo”, he informed the group of researchers from universities, think tanks and NGOs working on resource governance issues in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
The meeting was convened by Nigerian NGO, Social Action and other institutions to promote research collaboration. The objective of the meeting was to identify immediate research needs by examining how current politics, policies, practices and institutions related to the petroleum industry inform social and environmental impacts.
In March 2017, Social Action will join other organisations in two Break Free rallies in Port Harcourt and Bori, as part of the annual ‘global wave of people taking a stand against dirty energy’. In solidarity with Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Kebetkache, Ogoni Solidarity Forum, Egi Joint Action Congress (EJAC) and other organisations, we will be “joining forces to protect communities in vulnerable situations from extreme weather, and from fossil corporations that have polluted our air, grabbed our land, and captured our governments.”
Ken Henshaw, Programmes Manager of Social Action, reflects on efforts to promote public finance accountability in the states and local governments of Nigeria
In Nigeria, quite often, accountability in the management of public resources is sacrificed on the altar of cronyism. This state of affairs may be more established at the sub-national levels where about half of all public revenues in the country are expended. While there is a justified focus on the federal government and the office of the President, in particular, many citizens do not tend to pay attention to the 36 states and 774 local governments which together receive almost 50 percent of all federally collected revenues – not to mention internally generated revenues. However, the significant allocations to states and local governments from the Federation Account on a monthly basis hardly translate into real benefits for the majority of citizens. Even more worrisome is the breeding of citizens’ apathy towards sub-national governments – the local government councils, in particular. Rather than the tier of government closest to the grassroots promoting participation, what we find is alienation, which further reinforces non-accountability of public officials.
Uncertainty pervades some Ogoni communities over ownership and access to farmlands that had been the subject of land grabbing by the Government of Rivers State.
In 2011, the government confiscated community farmlands for a private banana plantation, developed by a Mexican company. After six years of killings, human rights abuses by state security services, community resistance and legal battles, the Mexican company has abandoned the land. With a change of government in the state following elections in 2015, the company was not sure of continuous patronage. By 2016, community members had retaken the land and planted cassava and other local staples.