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Oil spill: ‘Cancer is ravaging our land’

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OSCARLINE ONWUEMENYI

ABUJA – The Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers has lamented the apparent neglect by the Federal Government, even as it disclosed that thousands of children in the community are found to be suffering from cancer and other deadly diseases from exposure to contaminated water and food as a result of pollution from oil spill in the area.

The meeting held the same day that the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, met with the chief executives of the Shell Joint Venture partners, to fashion the best ways to go about the remediation of Ogoni land, based on the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP’s Environmental Assessment Report.

The Gberemene Gokana Kingdom and Vice President, Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, His Royal Highness, King Barnabas B.P. Bagia, revealed recently, when he led a full complement of the Kingdom’s dignitaries and youth leaders on a visit to the Director-General, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, in Abuja.

He said his people were prepared to work for peace in the community, adding that the community should be allowed to nominate contractors for the cleaning up and remediation exercise to be monitored by NOSDRA, to avoid poor performance.

He noted that the Ogoni people have “suffered neglect, deprivation and torture compared to other ethnic tribes in Nigeria. We belong to the very few that substantially formed part of the tribes that are in possession of the wealth of this nation, but we are robbed of the sweat of our labour by the majority tribes who gained through privileged position as leaders for the oppressed class.”

The Gberemene, who was represented by His Royal Highness, Nene Celestine Nuate, further stated that for over 50 years of operations by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, in Ogoniland, the revenue derived from the sale of crude oil are used by the Federal Government to develop major cities in the country while the Ogoni communities remain underdeveloped.

According to him, “Our people are apparently wallowing in abject poverty, with its attendant sicknesses and diseases caused by the oil spilled from SPDC’s faulty pipelines in our land, which has destroyed all aquatic lives upon which the livelihood of the poor depend.

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