Centre flays government for allegedly reneging on Niger Delta cleanup
• Canvasses environmental governance in oil-rich region
Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, has flayed the Federal Government for allegedly going back on its promise to clean up the Niger Delta three years after initiation of the process.
Speaking yesterday at the 2019 Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) Week with the theme, Clean The Niger Delta, Save Our Women in Port Harcourt, Rafsanjani noted that the subject was apt as it spotlights the increasing health challenges posed to the female gender on account of pollution, spills and environmental degradation caused by years of oil exploration and exploitation in the resource-rich but impoverished and neglected region.
His words: “It is not a critique of the process, but a serious sphere of concern around how women have lost their lives on a daily basis owing to the additional daily dosage of contaminants consumed in water, air, food and the rest and yet there is no respite in the commencement of the emergency measures. Cancerous villages are building up in Ogoni and its environs and 10 years from now, we might begin to have mutilated children due to the irresponsibility of those in the political class.
“An average of 240,000 barrels of crude oil are spilled in the Niger Delta every year until recently mainly due to unknown causes (31.85 per cent); third party activities ((20.74 per cent); and mechanical failure (17.04 per cent).
The spills contaminated the surface and ground waters; airs and crops with hydrocarbons, including known carcinogens like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and benzo (a) pyrene.”
He stressed that, “these oil spills led to a 60 per cent reduction in household food security and reduced the ascorbic acid content of vegetables by as much as 36 per cent and the crude protein content of cassava by 40 per cent. These could result in a 24 per cent increase in the prevalence of childhood malnutrition. Animal studies indicate that contact with Nigerian crude oil could be hemotoxic and hepatotoxic, and could cause infertility and cancer.”
The rights activist, therefore, advocated for a cleaner environment, stating: “For us, the entry point is environmental governance in the Niger Delta. It is only through environmental governance that laws, policies and procedures will be implemented to achieve a healthy and sustainable environment in the region.”