July 22, 2024

N’Delta stakeholders query divestment by IOCs from onshore assets to offshore


*Prof Teddy Adias, Vice-Chancellor, Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa and Prof. Sofiri Joab-Peterside, sociology lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt shared their perspectives on divestment to lay foundations for the dialogue. Mr Chima Williams, (m) Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria speaking at community dialogue on motives behind IOCs divestment in the Niger Delta; left is Princess Elizabeth Egbe, a Niger Delta activist, and right is prof Teddy Adias, Vice-Chancellor, Federal University, Otuoke.

Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa

Stakeholders in Niger Delta have faulted the reasons the International Oil Companies (IOCs) have given about divesting from onshore assets in preference for offshore fields.

According to them, the divestment move by IOCs was contrary to the energy transition advocacy to renewable energy sources and a ploy to evade development obligations and responsibility for polluting the area.

They urged the federal government to compel IOCs operating in the region to honour the Memorandum of Understandings (MoU), Global Memorandum of Understandings (GMoUs) and other agreements entered with communities.

These were contained in a communique issued on Monday after a one day “Community Dialogue on Unmasking the Motives of IOCs Divestment in the Niger Delta”

The forum was facilitated by the Environmental Rights Action Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, held in Yenagoa.

They argued that while global divestment advocacy was driven by the quest for cleaner energy sources, the same cannot be said of IOCs who are merely abandoning polluted sites to deep-sea fields to escape scrutiny on the operations.

He added that the stakeholders’ disagreement has become more strident following the divestment by the IOCs who have abdicated their social obligations to their host communities spelt out in the MoU and GMOU.

Oil community leaders, youth and women leaders, academia, environmental and rights activists and the media participated in the forum.

They held that “there is a need for a better understanding and deepened community engagements on the global environmental justice and community definitions of divestments vis-a-vis the model of the IOCs in the Niger Delta.”

They observed that community people of all classes have suffered exclusion in the divestment process, noting that the divestment process has largely weakened local struggles for environmental justice, and divided communities.

The stakeholders noted that there was a need to integrate the communities to make them the central focus of the ongoing divestment process.

“There is complicit silence by the Nigerian state and the regulatory agencies as IOCs dictate the terms of divestment.

“The decision making on the divestment process and other matters relevant to the local communities in the Niger Delta and the IOCs and Nigerians government has excluded the communities.

“There is the need for the IOCs to decommission their toxic assets and carry out remedial actions monitored by independent bodies and civil societies in the communities.

“Need for de-militarization of the Niger Delta communities that are legitimately agitating for a safe environment for their development.

“The oil and gas companies in Nigeria should be held liable for nearly six decades of ecocide in the Niger Delta as a precursor to remedial actions and compensation.

“Divesting abandoned toxic assets and complex problematic relationships with communities that the Domestic Oil Companies, (DOCs), have inherited and continued to perpetrate.

“DOCs have inherited and continued the tradition of impunity and lack of accountability to local communities.” The communique read in part.

In his remark, the Executive Director of ERA/FoEN Chima Williams said that it is a fact that divestment has become a major issue as the oil majors abandon their toxic onshore facilities and go offshore where they evade monitoring.

He explained that the exclusion of communities and community concerns in the divestment discourse motivated ERA/FoEN to facilitate the dialogue.

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