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Date Published: 07/06/10

The Gulf of Mexico: Niger delta experience. By Ben Wuloo Ikari, (Founder and Director OCAFAC).


The Ogoni Children Cultural and Fundamental Rights Council (OCAFAC) extend its solidarity to the people of the Gulf of Mexico for the degradation they face. OCAFAC can feel the pains and loses since Ogoni had suffered and still suffering environmental egradation.

$hell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), which is BP’s sister company caused the Ogoni predicaments. Not only has Ogoni felt these pains and loses, its people have been killed for standing up to protest $hell's negative impact on the society and environment.

On like America, in Nigeria, when oil spills are reported $hell and others claims they’re caused by sabotage. Whereas outdated equipments and corroded pipelines have been primarily responsible. These companies keeps claiming militants, etc. sabotaged their pipes, but forgot that oil mining started in the region in 1956. Militancy came in 2004. They intensified in 2006, up to 2009.

They came after Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 others were hanged by $hell and the government of Nigeria for campaigning against their methods of operations and stopping the flow of oil in Ogoni. Remember, it's BP that started mining in Nigeria (1956) and metamorphosed into $hell Petroleum Development Corporation and later SPDC. BP and $hell Oil therefore have the same deadly tract records. These records are such that profit, recklessness is preferred over environmental safety and the health cum good of the host communities.

Interestingly, the same recklessness, which pushed Saro-Wiwa to action in the 1990s, has impacted America. The Gulf is, however, fortunate because the media and Obama have channeled their energies on BP. This media concentration and service is what is deliberately ignored when similar spills occur in Nigeria. As it stands in the Gulf, America may learn the same lessons and the reasons Saro-Wiwa led his people against $hell. This is because who wears the shoes knows where they hurt.

American media have for decades ignored oil spills, gas flares and other double standards applied by American oil companies (and $hell) in Nigeria and Africa in general. They do this in the same vein and intent as inequitable reporting, which misinforms the American public and stereotype/stigmatize Africans.

And the intent is to protect, promote and project these oil killer companies as lords and saviors to the black world whereas they are exploiters and polluters. The irony is, when similar spills and degradation occur in America the media makes the call. Not only have they covered the BP spills on minute basis, they've also demanded the truth of BP.

Citizen's activism and the activist president of the US (Obama) have been catalytic in making BP work harder to try to contain the spills and also set aside $20 billion in four years for claims caused by its misguided damages.

In Nigeria, 50 years old spills are yet to be clean. Little or nothing of adequate compensation is paid, but threats, repression and extrajudicial killings. What the media, Obama and American citizens have done in the Gulf is what OCAFAC recommend for the world, the Nigerian government and people in particular.

Niger delta people, especially children have suffered untold hardships. These results from the incessant spills, excessive gas flares and gross human rights violations committed against parents and children. The peasants have been oppressed for nonviolently protesting environmental racism and economic strangulation by $hell, xxonMobil, Agip, and numerous others.

The Nigerian government which runs a joint venture with these oil majors laid the foundation for its citizens to be abuse and killed by soldiers paid by these companies. The government is indeed the first culprit of these crimes against the weak of Niger delta.

In 1993, Saro-Wiwa led the Ogoni people and exposed the fact that $hell and other companies haven't conducted Environmental Assessment, Social and Health Impact Studies, since crude oil was discovered in 1956 in Nigeria. Gas flares of deadly proportions and the reckless laying of high pressured pipelines at close proximity of human habitation were revealed. He’s killed as mentioned aforesaid. The oil-rich region of Nigeria is seeking justice; it wants to be self-determined. That is, control the economic resources and environment in alliance with the central government.

Ogoni/Niger deltans need American help. If any conscience still exists, America should reduce it oil consumption and invest in alternative energy. It could also redesign the cities in ways that more means of transportation such as train and bikes can be accessible against the use of fossil-based cars. We know arriving at safe and alternative energy sources would take time. Yet, the Gulf experience is a wake up call. With the promises today's technology holds success will come in full panoply with serious efforts.

Oil can’t be completely abandoned for now until new energy sources have been made possible since America is the most consumer. In extracting oil at home, environmental and human safety must never be compromised as allegedly done in BP’s situation. We must invest in oil business at home and not help poison other people’s environment to satisfy our needs.

What's good for the goose can't be bad for the gander. If America fears the attendant environmental catastrophes that come with the extraction of fossil fuel at home, it should know that Africans have right to such fears as well.

What happened in the Gulf is more of a monthly disaster in Nigeria. Neither the government nor oil companies cares. The beneficiary (US government and people) don’t also care. The Nigerian government is in the pocket of the oil companies. In short, they’ve a joint venture. The propensity that these companies will be held accountable as Obama is doing isn't there.

With the role America plays in Nigeria’s oil sector, OCAFAC believes this nation has a moral duty to reduce or completely stop the genocide that is taking place in Nigeria. This should be in the same way it’s working hard to protect and making life meaningful for the people of the Gulf of Mexico. We must not forget as the Gulf disaster shows, that who wears the shoes knows where they hurt.


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