October 21, 2022

FG, oil majors operating in Niger Delta are insensitive – CODAF

FG, oil majors operating in Niger Delta are insensitive – CODAF

By Agbonkhese Oboh

The Community Development Advocacy Foundation (CODAF), also known as the Rural Community Empowerment Initiative, has accused the federal government of Nigeria and the oil majors operating in the Niger Delta of insensitivity to the perennial environmental degradation and climate inaction.

 CODAF made this call during the commemoration of the 2nd African Peoples Counter COP 2022 which was held from Monday, October 17, to Wednesday, October 19, in two riverine communities – Okutun and Odimodi, both in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria.

The action, which was supported by the Africa Climate Justice Group (ACJG) and Friends of the Earth, was tagged a “Climate Action/Peoples Assembly”.

It was aimed at amplifying the voices of indigenous people and fisher folks, including women, in the creeks of the Niger Delta and creating an advocacy platform for them to tell their pollution stories and neglect to the world.

Addressing the communities engaged, the Executive Director of CODAF, Benin, Richard urged the women to speak up about the environmental injustices being meted on them, and he told them that they are the only ones who can tell their stories to the world.  

In his reaction, the Okuntu community Chairman, Mr. Save Azor, narrated their ordeal, and said that a couple of years ago the abundance of fish in the ocean was unimaginable, as women did not need to go deep into the ocean to catch fish as fish were readily available for catching at the shores.

He expressed his displeasure, because of the difficulty of getting fish these days, even if one goes deep into the ocean, as the fish have all died or have migrated.

And he believes this is as a result of the pollution caused by constant crude oil spills and discharge of waste water into the ocean by oil exploration companies. And this has adversely affected the biodiversity of the community and their wellbeing.

Mrs Abigail, from Okuntu, also talked about the pollution of the waters. Lamenting her ordeal, she showed the team a bag of contaminated crayfish that was caught from the sea, saying it cannot be sold or consumed by her family. Thus, it is a great loss to her and it is same for other fishermen and women.

Mr. Kessington Temewei (Former Chairman) lamented pollution of their water and how they lie about the level of damage done to the environment, even when the negative effect is glaring.

They called on the government to regulate the activities of the oil companies to enable the community to survive and regain their source of livelihood.

He complained of the scarcity and absence of sea foods such as molluscs, which were common around the sea shore before pollution.

He mentioned that money spent on fuel to sail their boat into the deep sea is alarming because the waste water, which is mixed with other chemicals, is disposed directly into the sea, therefore leading to the loss of aquatic life.

Mrs. Juliet K. Egbele, said there is no clean drinking water in the community that the water installed by Shell in Odimodi community is contaminated and the level of salt is high.

 She said the impact of crude oil is devastating, even when they request a loan to support farmers, but the oil majors did not oblige their request.

“The impact of the oil has caused the loss of fish and other aquatic life.

“Due to the pollution of the water, they could barely find periwinkles, crayfish, and other sea foods around the sea shores,” she narrated.

Benin, the CODAF director called on the federal government of Nigeria and the oil majors to be more proactive rather than reactive.

He said the ecological crisis the people of the Niger Delta are facing presently needs serious commitment and quick attention, and goes beyond standing on a podium at the UN general assembly and making statements that will not be implemented back at home.