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Gas Pollution: Sagana Community Cries Out

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Not in my wildest imagination did I think anything or anyone could possibly interrupt my concentration, as I was working on a report I had to complete and submit by Friday. Of course, the Television had been on, but little did I realize that, until I heard the news headline- “Sagana Community Cries out to the Federal Government for Intervention”. Thankfully, I was quick enough to grab a pen and notepad to take down some vital points which I pieced together thus: It is the 24th day since the news of the Chevron gas explosion was first reported, yet no official statement has been made by Chevron. As a result of the Chevron facility explosion of January 16th 2012, fire has continued to burn on the high sea around the Southern Ijaw and Brass Council areas of Bayelsa State, Nigeria. Tales of woes have continued to pour out from the affected communities (especially Sangana and Koloma) as they are already feeling the devastating and poisonous environmental impacts that continue to trail the explosion. People living in the affected communities are crying out to the federal government of Nigeria for Intervention. Since the explosion, no effort has been made to stem the tide of the impacts by Chevron or the concerned Authorities; just as the pollution continues unabated. Human and aquatic lives in the area have been affected, as it is no longer well with the environment. The impact of the attendant atmospheric pollution is evidenced by dying aquatic life (as dead fishes have continued to float,) lost livelihoods (farming, fishing and trading of seafood), many who are taking ill and no safe water to drink. The people have continued to complain of strange and toxic smells, they are yet to be evacuated and have been left to their fate.
As the report ended I could not but ask the following questions: For how long more will the people be left to their fate? Why must a hapless majority continue to bear the brunt of the injustices associated with the careless activities of a privileged few? Why would oil rich communities in Nigeria continue to suffer the consequences of the problems they did not create? How long will the people remain refugees in their own lands? How long will they remain homeless, landless and neglected? Will help ever come to them? Is this just another case of man’s inhumanity to man? Will the tales of woe that has become the lot of the Niger Deltans ever end? Is anyone listening to their cries for justice equity and fairness? Should the cries of the Niger Delta people remain unheard? How could one of the best endowed regions of Nigeria and even the world, in terms of natural resources, biodiversity, and population densities, remain one of poorest and most threatened regions?
My heart especially goes out to the women in the communities, because, as is typical of such crisis situations, they would be the worst affected. As wives and mothers, they would have to grapple with attending to their own needs (emotional, health, domestic and financial) as well as those of their husbands, children and relations. I also join faith with the women and their communities, in hope that help is not too far off.

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Stella Paul's picture

Its a small world

Dear Olanike

Your story reminds me of a similar situation in the north east (hilly, inaccessible, underdeveloped) region of India. There was no explosion,but an oil co had abandoned operation in the middle and there was oil seeping, polluting groundwater. No media reported t for a long time. People of two villages suffered in silence
But guess what Olanike! even a small step by an individual can sometimes get big results! You never know, this post by you can stir conscious in many people!
I say this because I wrote a blog that was picked up by a newspaper and that way it became a chain. Today, the matter in in court and the oil co has been asked to pay compensation.

So,you did well my dear and may justice be theirs, who suffered without any fault. Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Greengirl's picture

Dear Friend and Sister

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. It makes me feel good that I did what I had to do. As, a matter of fact, I mistakenly lost the first write up just as I was trying to save my last lines; but the magnitude of the problem made me stay committed towards doing something about the situation in my own little way. Of course I had to stay up late to rewrite and get it blogged. Yes Stella, I believe what you said about the potential positive changes a blog can stir or bring about.
As you may have observed,I have been silent lately. I not been disposed to reading most of the blogs on World Pulse in recent times because I have been working on a number of reports, financials, and proposals. Now that I am freer, I'll sure get back on the Blog and have a feel of all that's been happening.
Always nice reading your words!
Thank you.

Olanike

Celine's picture

Yes, man's inhumanity to man.

Oh my sister, Nike, you have said it all "Man's inhumanity to man". The irony of it remains that Niger Delta is the area from where millions of barrels of oil are extracted every day. That is the area from where our leaders see money, which they steal every day. With the stolen money, they buy jets, helicopters and chains of bullet-proof cars-- for their private use while millions of citizens wallow in hunger and abject poverty. Worse still, the inhuman treatment is worst hit on the people from whose immediate environment, government collaborate with expatriates to suck dry the environment, destabilize and unsettle the inhabitants and render them homeless.

People of Niger Delta are helpless, they have no drinking water, no house, no land to farm or grow food. Yet their fishing waters are polluted and to worsen the matter, the air around them is always polluted by incessant gas pollutions. Fishing is their only means of livelihood. On this same water they build the shanties they live in. I don't really know when our government will become sensitive to the plights of the common man in this country.

Thank you for posting this.

Celine

Greengirl's picture

Dear Sister Celine

I am glad that you are well informed about the pathetic situation in the Niger Delta. The living condition of the people is quite ironic. It baffles me that our elected and or selected leaders would unrepentantly turn a blind eye to the plight of the very people they pledge to protect. I cannot but make reference to last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Reports had it that President Barack Obama, left the comfort of the White House to the site. Also, in a letter to the American House of Representatives speaker, on requesting for budget amendments, the USA President said "I will spare no effort to clean up whatever damage has been caused, assist those whose livelihoods have been affected by this spill, and restore the Gulf coast". Coming back home, wouldn't one be asking for too much by asking even the State Governor to visit the affected communities? I even wonder if the sitting Councillors of the affected areas have made any such effort.
We just must keep believing God to give us selfless and sensitive leaders in our Country.

Best Wishes,

Olanike

mrbeckbeck's picture

Update?

Olanike,
I found your article by searching for stories about pollution from the oil industry in Nigera after I read an article. The article was discussing Shell Oil and a court case currently underway in London: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/23/shell-nigeria-oil-spil...
It's great to see citizens willing to confront the polluting industries even when government either can't or won't help-- or when government is corrupted with industry money!

Thank you so much for posting this important story about the Sagana community! I am sorry that I didn't see it at the time you wrote it, but I am curious if there is any update two months later? Has the federal or regional or local government stepped up to help the citizens? The injustices in Nigeria are outrageous, and that's why I'm so eager to know about more solutions. Maybe one day this community will take Chevron Oil to court too!

I have a great deal of hope for the innovations that will rise from women's leadership, like you and many other PulseWire sisters. I will share this story with others and hope to build awareness.
Best,
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Volunteer

Greengirl's picture

I'll post an Update

Thank you so much for making out time to read the article. Most importantly too, the reminder that there is a need to post an update.

Your interest in the Oil Industry Pollution Problems in Nigeria gives me joy, especially with the decision that you've taken to share and build awareness about the issue. You would never imagine the level of degradation and deprivation that persists in the most endowed region of Nigeria. It is really a very sad story, as the situation in the Niger Delta could best be described as absolute injustice to the indigenous communities. Though some of the Oil companies are alleged to sometimes provide developmental support under their Corporate Social Responsibility activities, the physical, social and economic state there, still leaves very much to be desired. The communities still lack basic infrastructural facilities( safe water, good roads and electricity are only imagined), literacy level is very low and poverty level is very high, just as their sources of livelihoods are being destroyed by the day especially as most members of the communities engage in farming and fishing. I could go on and on!

A few days after my post, a local TV Station beamed reports on the Nigerian President's visit to the affected communities; during which he requested Chevron to provide relief materials and pay compensation to the affected communities. I was also privileged to watch a press conference organized by the Chairman Senate Committee on Environment; who also issued a press release that the legislative arm of government would take some decisive actions towards curtailing the excesses of all the companies exploring crude oil in Nigeria (of course most if not all are international companies). Truth is that the Nigerian print and electronic media and the civil society groups helped the community win attention! I will include all the details in the update which I hope to post by Weekend.

I would be willing to support your intended campaign too.

Thank you and best wishes!

Olanike

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