By Emem Idio, YENAGOA
FOUR months after a major oil spill was reported in Lasukugbene community in Southern Ijaw LGA, Bayelsa State, along the Tedibaba Brass Trunk Line operated by the Nigeria Agip Oil Company, NAOC, the leadership of the community has slammed the multinational oil company and the state government for abandoning them.
A follow-up visit to the community and affected spill site, weekend, by the Environmental Rights Action, ERA, and the media, indicates that the oil company was yet to engage the leadership of the community or take steps towards carrying out clean-up and providing relief materials to the affected community.
The embittered Paramount Ruler of the community, Farnen Akinaka, and the Community Development Committee, CDC, Chairman, Mr. Innocent Oputa, expressed anger that since the major spill was reported on February 3, 2022, Agip has neither carried out clean-up at the spill site or sent relief materials to the people, despite the fact that the spill was caused by equipment failure.
The community equally berated the Bayelsa State government for abandoning the people to their fate, adding that as an oil-producing community, they deserved to be treated better as they contribute to the revenue of the state and nation.
Their words:”Since this spill occurred, my people have been suffering, there is nothing whatsoever in terms of relief materials sent to this community either by Agip or the Bayelsa State government. Our people are getting sick, our fishermen can no longer go fishing, and our women can no longer go to the farm because the heavy presence of crude oil has destroyed their farms. We are appealing for urgent intervention from the authorities to come to our aid.”
A stakeholder of the community, Mr. Kiente Zion, said: “It is awful when you look at things like this, since on February 3 when this spill was reported because we don’t know the actual time it occurred but community folks discovered it on February 3, nothing has been done for the people concerning this spill.
“The best that NAOC has done is to come and clamp down the spill and till now in May, Agip has not come to the community to identify with the people, not even the state government and it is a pain that we have a system that does not care about the people. If the government does not identify with the people, what will the multinational do?
“The purported cleanup is a scam because by procedural standards, you are not supposed to do cleanup with relief materials to the affected community and Agip is good in doing things like this, because the government allows them.
“If this thing has happened in the governor’s place it wouldn’t have been like this, I tell you the spill in Lasukugbene community cannot be equated to the Nembe Santa Barbara Aiteo spill in magnitude but until now not even a bag of sachet water has been given to the people of Lasukugbene.
“The state government first should do the needful and take responsibility followed by NAOC, the environment has been destroyed and the people are also the environment.”
The Programme Manager of ERA and Head of the Niger Delta Resource Centre, Yenagoa, Alagoa Morris, said the follow-up visit to the spill site was to ascertain if anything had been done by Agip to contain the spill following reports of purported cleanup, describing the said cleanup as a scam as evidence on ground has shown that nothing has been done to contain the spill.