The Federal Government has been faulted for implementing a divesting process for oil multi-nationals without putting in place a policy framework thus, giving room for IOCs to run away from cleaning up the huge mess created in the Niger Delta.
Ken Henshaw, executive director of We the People, a non-governmental organization based in Port Harcourt raised this concern at a roundtable organized by ERA April 25, 2022 at Visa Karena Hotel, Port Harcourt for civil society activists and the media on understanding the lies behind onshore divestment.
The activist decried the failure of the Nigerian government to plan for a non-oil era even as it is accepting to help IOCs move operations off-shore in line with claimed global trends for cleaner energy sources and practices.
Debunking Shell’s claim of moving operations offshore because of over taxation, militancy, insecurity and development, Henshaw asked why the IOCs did not halt production despite the high crisis that rocked and destroyed Rumuekpe even when the community members had deserted the place.
He asked if the Nigerian government has done the needful by creating a divestment programme without a policy framework to guide it noting, that there must be provision for addressing community liabilities including ecological problems and environmental revitalization arising from oil and gas activities onshore before consideration for moving offshore.
The We the People executive further expressed worry that rather than plan for a green future from current oil earnings, “the (Petroleum Industry Act), PIA has created an NNPC to make profit from which, 30 per cent is to be committed to prospecting for oil in frontier areas when global attention is shifting from oil”.
He pointed out that Nigeria’s oil reserves are coming to an end and, “there will not be another 70 or 50 years of oil production in Nigeria”.
The environmental and human rights activist stressed that the mess created by oil activities in the Niger Delta is so monumental that what has come in as revenue or dividend cannot be enough to make amends.
“The mess to clean up will over ride amount collected.”
The Niger Delta is on the threshold of history for strategic implementation and charged that the federal government be called to question for failing to provide a framework for the transition from onshore to offshore operations as well as demand a health and environmental audit to establish what oil has cost the Niger Delta.
He also called for government to stop the divestment and begin to seriously protect life and environment while polluters are made to pay for their actions.
Participants in their contributions on the roundtable, decried the ease with which government bows to the desires of the IOCs but neglect the cries and needs of the people noting also a need to end ignorance around oil governance which alienates community members from fully engaging in the process. They called for more transparency and inclusion on issues as they affect communities, better defence from representatives as well as putting community interest above personal and other interests.
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