Ini Billie, Uyo
Oil companies touting divestment have been accused of abdicating their responsibilities in the Niger Delta after several years of poisoning the people and the environment through oil spills and gas flaring.
The Executive Director of “We the People”, Ken Henshaw, a non-governmental organisation focused on ecological justice in the Niger Delta region, said after six decades of polluting the environment and putting the lives of the people at risk, oil companies planning to divest are fleeing accountability and justice.
Speaking on Friday in Uyo during a press conference, the group urged the Federal Government and Nigerians not to allow the oil companies to leave the country without cleaning up the environment and taking responsibility for the damage several years of oil exploration have caused in the region.
Henshaw stated that it would require more than 100 billion dollars to clean up oil communities in Nigeria affected by oil exploration and the clean-up process would take over 50 years.
“For occupied communities who have lost everything to oil extraction in the last 6 decades, what oil companies are doing is not divestment, but criminal flight, attempting to abdicate responsibility for several years of poisoning the environment and people of the Niger Delta. They must never be allowed to simply run off.
“The federal government should immediately place a moratorium on all oil company divestment in the Niger Delta, pending the ascertaining of issues of community concern,” he stated.
The group called on the FG to produce a framework for how such oil companies would disengage from the Niger Delta region, saying the guidelines should be developed by a multi-stakeholder group including communities and civil society organisations.
He mentioned that the divestment framework should contain a scientifically developed post-hydrocarbon impact assessment report establishing the exact ecological and livelihood impacts of oil extraction, and a health audit of people close to the extraction sites among other things.
“The FG needs to immediately produce a framework and guide for how oil companies disengage from areas where they have operated. This guide should be developed by a multi-stakeholder group including communities and civil society organizations.
“The divestment framework must contain the following requirement for oil companies: a scientifically developed post-hydrocarbon impact assessment report that establishes the exact ecological and livelihood impacts of oil extraction.
“A health audit of people located in close proximity to extraction sites, and others exposed to oil contamination and gas flaring. This audit will aim at unravelling the negative health impacts of exposure to hydrocarbons.
“A detailed plan and costing for remediating the ecological, livelihood and health impacts of extraction; and the establishment of independent frameworks for remediating all identified impacts,” he stated.