Fire in the delta
In 2005, the High Court declared gas flaring illegal yet both the Nigerian government and oil multinationals have ignored the court ruling. Last year the Nigerian government once again promised to stop all gas flaring on the 1st January this year – a promise that goes back nearly 40 years. Companies defying the order were to be shut down. Once again the government has shown complete disregard and insensitivity to the communities in the Niger Delta and given into pressure from Shell, Chevron, Elf etc. The date has now been set for the end of the year but no one really believes that the government will once again bow to the oil multinationals.
Inemo [Ndelta] has put together this short video “Fire in the Delta” which shows the environmental damage [gas flares both on the ground and those that burn up in the sky; old leaking pipes across farmlands and homes; oil filled creeks and ponds; oil fires which burn the land and people; across the region. [Also check out some of his Ijaw dub samples for example this one dedicated to Ijaw activist and legend Adaka Boro]
Civil society groups have responded by demanding the government enact legislation to once and for all end gas flaring rather than continue to make promises that are always broken.
Last week the 13 civil society organisations (Social Action, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Benin River Forum, Niger Delta Women for Justice (NDWJ),
Stakeholder Democracy Network, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities, Centre for Human Rights, Environment and Development, Ogoni Solidarity Forum, Egi Forum, and the United Action for Democracy (UAD) released the following press statement:
– The National Assembly should, as a matter of urgency, enact a legislation that compels all oil producing companies to end gas flaring in 2008 as called for by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). Previous flare-out dates have been violated by the oil companies despite the 2005 ruling by a federal high court which declared gas flaring as illegal and a gross violation of fundamental right to life. – The National Assembly should enact legislation that compels government and the oil companies to harness associated gas, which is presently flared, for power generation for the communities of the Niger Delta and to feed the national grid.
– There needs to be a participatory audit of gas flaring to ascertain damage and effect compensation to
community victims. The National Assembly should enact legislation to compel the Government to conduct this audit. – The National Assembly should compel all oil producing companies to stop crude oil production in
any oil field where gas is still being flared as called for by the DPR. According to a November 2007
report by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), more than 70 percent (177 out of 139) of the oil
fields in Nigeria still flare gas. – The National Assembly should legislate to ensure that the fines announced by DPR for 2008 are imposed and that all revenues are dedicated to a ‘Special Community Health Fund’ which will help deal with the direct and indirect health impacts of flaring and oil operations.