We can stop Divestment of Oil Companies if we work together - ERA tells Oil Communities in Niger Delta
|From left to right: Mr. Jonah Gbemre, Coordinator, Krital Kare Foundation, Dr.(Mrs.) Misan Rupee, Barrister Chima Williams, Executive Director of ERA & Chief Omafume Amurun|
The Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action, ERA/Friends of the Earth, Barrister Chima William has called for collaboration with Oil Producing Communities in the Niger Delta Region to stop the divestment tactics of Oil Companies, stating that this can only be achieved, if they work together in unity.
Barrister Williams made this call in a one day Community-CSO Engagement programme tagged, "Motives Behind IOC's Divestments in Niger Delta." held on Saturday May 6, 2023 at Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Areas, Delta State.
Barrister Williams while stating some outstanding victories of ERA against some Oil Majors in Nigeria averred: “SPDC has paid 15million Euros as settlement to the people of Ogoni-land in the Niger Delta region, and some victims are already receiving their share of the money.
"We urged the people of the Niger Delta region to always speak with one voice, the activities of the IOC's operating in their domain are hurting, destroying their sources of livelihood and environment.
“Before now, divestment have been happening in this country, Oil companies have been selling parts of their assets to smaller or local companies in a very small scale. But, when the divestment of the Multi-nationals began to take another turn towards the end of the year 2021 and early 2022, we decided to conduct our own internal analysis, only to discover the lies of the Oil Majors, turning the concept of divestment into moving their Onshore activities into the deep sea where the community people and the government lack the capacity to monitor their operations while they continue to pollute and damage our ecosystem and leave us dry.
|Barrister Chima Williams giving his speech|
“As a result of the litigation that being pursued by community people, which have been very successful, starting from our own case, where a small community from the Niger Delta defeated Shell in their own country, a case which lasted for eighteen years. At the negotiating table, we were able to force Shell to put in place a liquidation system, the first of its kind in its operations, in the whole of West Africa to save the environment and the Peoples' sources of livelihood.
“We all can attest to the incapability of our local oil companies to handle the biggest pollution in our environment already created by the Multi-nationals.”
Barr .Williams advised the Communities and people of the Niger Delta region not to allow the International Oil Companies, IOC's live after polluting their environment as well as looting them dry under the guise of "Divestments", just as he urged them to always speak with one voice.
“My advice to communities hosting these oil facilities that these Oil Majors want to divest from is to articulate your GMOU with them,” Barr. Williams opined.
On his part, Chief Omafume Amurun, a Veteran Journalist who also spoke at the event averred that the IOC's employ divide and rule tactics to divide the people of the various Communities in the region. According to him, one of their major keys is "propaganda" to cause troubles and make the people to fight amongst themselves.
Chief Amurun said people no longer take issues of environment serious. He commended ERA for educating and sensitizing the people of the region against the illegal and criminal activities of the IOC's in the Niger Delta. Chief Amurun also enjoined the people especially their leaders not to collude with the government and oil companies loot their people.
Dr. (Mrs.) Misan Rupee and Mr. Jonah Gbemre also bear their minds on the topic as they said the Federal Government of Nigeria should be blamed for the negligence, criminal activities of the IOC's for failing to properly regulate their activities with well enacted laws to prevent environmental fraud.