Social Action presents the views of members of polluted communities in Ogoniland who decry the failure of the Nigerian government to provide emergency services such as clean water a decade after the UNEP Report. Ten years after the UNEP found high pollution levels, including scandalous amounts of carcinogenic substances in groundwater in Ogoniland, the Nigerian federal government commenced some water projects in 2021, with implementation slow and tardy.
By Peter Mazzi
The Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari is a slap on the face of Niger Delta communities. It shows an utter lack of sensitivity to the suffering of the people who, despite being responsible for 90% of the country’s export earnings are still impoverished and suffering from environmental devastation and loss of livelihoods.
The people of Omoviri community in Rumuekpe, Emuoha Local Government in Rivers State have been suffering from pollution from substances suspected to be crude oil oozing from the soil. The pollutant has contaminated surface and underground water sources and polluted the soil, disrupting fishing and farming activities which are the main sources of livelihood of the community. This pollution has also given rise to health hazard as the major source of drinking water has been the contaminated river which flows from the Sombreiro into the Orashi watercourse.
As artisanal refineries have continued to operate, with attendant environmental and social hazards, Social Action examined the practice in and around Omadino community in Warri-South Local Government Area of Delta State, and sheds light on the environmental consequences, amid government’s inadequate responses. Read more
Administrations at the federal, state and local governments always come with new policies, developments and changes intended to showcase its performance in providing the dividends of democracy to the citizens. However, despite numerous infrastructure and development projects embarked upon by the federal, state and local governments areas (LGAs), Nigerian citizens have seen crumbling public infrastructures as successive administrations do not adequately maintain projects.
The administration Chief Barrister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike in Rivers State has embarked on several commendable infrastructure projects, especially in road construction. In the past months, the state has witnessed the commencement of three new flyovers in ObioAkpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas (LGAs). These include the Oro Abali flyover (Garrison Junction), which has been completed and commissioned, the Okoro Nundo flyover (Rumuokoro), and the Artillery Flyover as part of other numerous urban renewal constructions ongoing in Rivers State.
The Muhammadu Buhari government submitted the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in late 2020 to the National Assembly as a revision of previous versions by the Umaru Musa Yar’dua and Goodluck Jonathan administrations. This briefing paper shows that, as proposed, the PIB 2020 is inadequate to address the environmental, human rights and livelihoods concerns of host communities, as the Executive Bill focuses more on production and commercial viability of the industry.
While Nigeria records the highest and unacceptable levels of crude oil spills globally, and the country is among the worst in gas flaring globally, the PIB 2020 fails woefully in addressing these issues. There is no clear provision for addressing environmental pollution and sanctioning polluters. The Bill fails to introduce any new measures to encourage the elimination of routine gas flaring. The PIB 2020 disempowers federal and state environmental agencies from the monitoring and enforcement of environmental regulations in the petroleum industry. Read more
Text of a Press Briefing by Social Action and Key Civil Society Organisations
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Abuja, FCT, Nigeria
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, we have organised this briefing to call public attention to major flaws in the federal government’s proposals in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), and our concerns about the manner the National Assembly has managed the Public Hearings on the Bill. Like most Nigerians, we believe that a new set of laws are necessary to govern the petroleum industry in Nigeria. However, the PIB’s proposals, as it is, would promote environmental impunity in the oil industry and exacerbate social dislocation in the oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta.
Social Action has been following closely developments in Ogoniland with the publishing of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on the oil pollution and the progress made by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP). The cleanup recommended in the UNEP report has suffered several setbacks as a result of political lethargy, bureaucratic bottlenecks, opacity in the operation of the council and the lack of political will to put in motion the appropriate mechanisms to bring a lasting solution to the degradation in Ogoniland as a result of the massive oil pollution. Several activities have been carried out by Social Action to ensure the cleanup exercise is carried out the recommendations of UNEP and in such a way that the people are not shortchanged and that the clean-up of Ogoni represents a test case for the clean-up of the Niger Delta and the entire Nigerian environment.
One such activity is the town hall meeting organised in Port Harcourt to bring together stakeholders from the affected communities in Ogoniland, civil society, government agencies including HYPREP. The purpose was to re-engage the process to produce a plan of action that would make concrete input into the procedure under CSOs/communities’ increased participation around what HYPREP was already doing. The town hall meeting which took place in Port Harcourt on July 31, 2019 resulted in the issuance of a communique with a far-reaching plan of action and recommendations. Some of the recommendation and resolutions include
- the collaboration of stakeholders with HYPREP for the agency to succeed in the Ogoni clean-up
- inclusion of the women as critical stakeholders in the cleanup, considering that Ogoni women depend much on the environment (especially land and water) for sustaining livelihoods (and right to life imperatives) across grassroots experiences.
- a periodic review of the clean-up process among stakeholders as transparency and accountability measures towards building public confidence over the HYPREP course of action
The communique also observed that the absence of an implementing plan on the UNEP report has precipitated much of the delay that generated confusion about communities’ expectations and what HYPREP has been doing all along. The communique, therefore recommended that due diligence be observed in the cleanup processes noting that if the pilot Ogoni Clean-up succeeds, then the effort to rehabilitate the Niger delta environmentally, can hopefully succeed.
After two decades of civil rule in Nigeria, over one thousand representatives of impacted communities, citizens groups, universities and national and sub-national agencies participated in the Nigeria Resource Justice Conference, which held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on 2nd May 2019. Organised by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), the Conference provided a platform for participants to examine the situation of communities in the sites of oil and gas production and to set policy agendas to tackle current challenges.