As the Niger Delta region continues to reel in adverse degradation of the environment and daunting health challenges with a bleak future, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Thursday, cautioned oil companies on the value of Niger Deltans’ lives over profit-making.
The Executive Director, of ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor, stated this at the 2nd Annual General Meeting and Rally of ANEEJ in Abuja on the heels of oil spillage and the snail-speed Ogoni Cleanup.
Ugolor vowed he will not relent in mounting pressure on oil majors in the region to do the needful by taking full responsibility for the damage done to the environment and adequately paying compensation to the impoverished people.
According to him, the meeting is aimed at reviewing Nigeria’s energy transition plan and assessing the Ogoni cleanup exercise, and among others. He said: “The Ogoni cleanup is going on at a snail’s pace. As we speak, while our people are suffering, Shell announced $42.3 billion profit for 2022, more than double its 2021 total and probably a record for any British company.
“Exxon Mobil also reported $56 billion in annual profit. We must continue to challenge the preference for profit over the lives of the Niger Delta people. It should be the other way round, that is, people over profit.
“It is another session of AGMs by oil companies as Shell, Total Energies and Exxon Mobile have scheduled their 2023 AGM for May 23rd, 26th and 31st respectively.
“This offers us another opportunity to harvest the people’s position on the devastating impact of oil companies’ operation on the people’s livelihood and environment and other matters of interest.
“We will continue to put pressure on Shell and other oil companies to take responsibility for the damage done to the environment, pay compensation, support the comprehensive cleanup of the Niger Delta, align Strategy with Paris agreement and significantly increase commitment and resources to a transition process from fossil fuel to renewable energy.”
While advising the Federal Government on steps to be taken, the ANEEJ boss stated that there should be an unbiased investigation into the remediation process in Ogoni Land, as well as the environmental and health audits of the Niger Delta and a cleanup of the region.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria should appoint a substantive chairman for the Governing Council of HYPREP to ensure consistency in the leadership.
“Also, the Government, companies and other stakeholders should contribute to the remediation process by supporting the development and adoption of new technologies that can accelerate the Ogoni cleanup.
“We also call on HYPREP to embark on a full-scale livelihood restoration programme for the Ogoni people.”
Meanwhile, he called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the NNPC Ltd to withdraw the operating license of Shell alleging “their complicity in the environmental and ecological injustices ranging from divestment from on-shore to off-shore leaving behind the problems it created in the Niger Delta, weakened climate change commitment for short-term profit, and its poor human rights record in Nigeria.
“The Energy Transition Plan of oil companies should be in compliance with Paris Agreement on climate change and Climate Change Act, reflecting the perspectives of communities affected by decades of fossil fuel extraction.”
Ugolor also called on International Financial Institutions to discontinue financing fossil fuel projects in Nigeria and demanded the Federal Government, particularly the incoming administration demonstrate political will to end gas flaring in Nigeria.