By Stephen Asaba-ase, Warri
A Non-profit Organization, Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ has called on President Bola Tinubu to prevail on the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC to cleans-up the Niger Delta environment that has been polluted with oil spills and as well compensate the people before the company is allowed to leave.
Speaking in a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, the National Coordinator of CEPEJ, Mulade said that it will not be possible for Shell to plant exit without proper clean-up exercise and proper compensation to the Niger Delta communities, just as he urged the Federal government to do the needful to ensure that before they allow Shell to go, they must carry out this due process to ensure that the area is safe.
Mulade said, as environmentalists and stakeholders of the Niger Delta, they have only one option, as they in the first place calling on the federal government to do the needful, but if the government fails, they would then institute a suit restraining the sales of those assets, which he said that they have already commenced the process.
The CEPEJ had also called on the President and the new buyers, the indigenous oil firms to equally consider buying the onshore liabilities that would be left by SPDC if they wish to operate peacefully in the region in accordance with best international practices as obtained in other climes.
Mulade maintained, “We are in shock but not surprised by the recent sales of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Onshore Facilities Asset to indigenous oil firm led by Renaissance and four others. Its unfortunate that Nigeria is the only country on earth that will permit an International Oil Company to destroy her ecosystem, environment and divest their investment without any penalty. Today SPDC has grossly destroyed the Niger Delta environment with impunity without recourse to proper remediation plans for the environment and ecological damages done as a result of their exploration activity.
“We would want to strongly appeal and advise the Federal Government led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR and the new buyers i.e the indigenous oil firms to equally consider buying the onshore liabilities as well left by SPDC if they wish to operate peacefully in the region. It is imperative to mention that in a corporate buy out such as this and in accordance with best international practices as obtained in other climes there is an urgent need to address the issue of Compensation and, Accountability for the liabilities of Shell Onshore Assets in Niger Delta.
“Over the years, the Niger Delta has borne the brunt of environmental degradation resulting from Shell’s oil and gas exploration activities. The adverse impact on the communities’ livelihoods, health, and overall well-being cannot be overstated. Consequently, we implore Mr President as the custodian of our nation’s interests, to address the following concerns:
“Compensation for Environmental Damage:** The communities affected by Shell’s operations in the Niger Delta region have endured severe environmental degradation. We urge your administration to ensure fair and just compensation for the irreversible damage caused to their lands, water sources, and ecosystems.
“Provision for Onshore Liabilities:** The proposed sale of Shell onshore assets must include stringent provisions for addressing existing liabilities. These provisions should guarantee that the new owners assume responsibility for mitigating and rectifying environmental damage and restoring the affected communities ecosystem.
“Community Development Initiatives:** Allocate a portion of the proceeds from the sale towards comprehensive community development initiatives. These initiatives should focus on sustainable projects that enhance education, healthcare, infrastructure, and economic opportunities for the affected communities.
“Transparency and Accountability: Establish mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability in the entire process of the asset sale. The affected communities should be actively involved in decision-making processes to safeguard their interests.
“But for this Shell planted exit without proper cleanup exercise, without proper compensation to these communities, it is not possible. So, the government should do the needful to ensure that before they allow Shell to go, they must carry out this due process to ensure that the area is safe.”
On how he will push to ensure Shell does the needful before exiting the country, he said, “Well, for us as environmentalists and stakeholders of the Niger Delta, we have only one option, we are calling on the federal government to do the needful but if the government fails, we will institute a suit restraining the sales of those assets, which we have already commenced the process. Because, until these things are done, we will not allow Shell to exit our land until the proper cleanup is done. Because, take for example, Oloibiri was the first land that produced the commercial quantity of oil for Nigeria in 1956, today, Oloibiri is history. There’s nothing there, the people are in abject poverty. The traditional occupation of the people, fishing and farming have been eroded. So, what do you expect? And the continuous destruction of confiscated vessels by the Nigerian security agents and destroyed them openly, is against the ethics of environmental best practices.
“So, we have told the federal government and we have also called on the security agents for the past 6,8 years and when you apprehend any vessel or local canoe, take these things to the Nigerian refineries.
“We have Port Harcourt refinery, Warri refinery, why must you destroy these, if that the government or the security agents are not involved? Because we see this as destruction of evidence. And you don’t even feel or consider the well being of the people, even if you are not from that part of the region, you should have feelings for these people who are known to be fishermen, farmers and you destroy their eco system, destroy their environment what do you expect?
“That is why we said that today, the only means of survival in the Niger Delta is illegal bunkering where they youths have turned to and which is not good for the nation. The second option is militancy. That is the only means of employment.” he added.