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Journalists task Buhari on rights of communities hosting extractive industries

By Jesutomi Akomolafe
08 November 2021   |   4:09 am
Nigerian and Zimbabwean journalists, under the Connect Fund of the Bertha Foundation, have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to grant succour to communities affected by oil spills and refining activities.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari attends the second day of the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. – World leaders meeting at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow will issue a multibillion-dollar pledge to end deforestation by 2030 but that date is too distant for campaigners who want action sooner to save the planet’s lungs. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / POOL / AFP)

Nigerian and Zimbabwean journalists, under the Connect Fund of the Bertha Foundation, have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to grant succour to communities affected by oil spills and refining activities.

They made the appeal at a two-day workshop on reporting environmental issues and rights of communities hosting extractive industries, held with two Bertha fellows from Zimbabwe, Charles Saki and Lenin Chisaira.

This came as Minister of Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, disclosed that over 15.13 hectares in Ogoni land were polluted, while access to potable water remains difficult for residents due to oil spills.

At the media exchange on environment reporting, a fellow of Bertha Foundation and journalist with The Cable, Abiose Adelaja, said there was need for the Buhari-led government to saddle relevant authorities with the duty to clean up Ogoni land, grant the people potable water and treat them as citizens of the country.

She also spoke of her visit to Eleme Local Council in Rivers State, a hub for the movement of cargoes, which lacks social amenities. “When I visited the community, they had no water. When they showed me the water from their well, it was oily. They basically buy water to drink, cook and wash their clothes because they can’t use the oily water. Their living condition calls for urgent attention,” she said.

Speaking on the effect of oil spills on climate in Africa, Saki said corruption remains a critical problem facing the continent. He said: “We need to start talking about this and holding people accountable. Despite having resources in Africa, our lives seem to be difficult. We tend to suffer more when it comes to climate change, while some people enjoy it. Apart from contributing to 60 per cent of greenhouse emission, our resources are failing to take care of this problem. It is like a curse.”

Another fellow, Chisaira, stressed that Africa is like a dinner table to the world and that the continent remains in serious predicament due to political differences. He noted: “We allow anyone to come in and do what he or she likes on our land. We do not conduct in-depth research into the effects and extent of climate change. One of the COP26 2021 themes is uniting the world to tackle climate change.

He added: “Our unity as Africa is uneasy and is not reflected on the ground. It is this lack of true political and economic unity that puts us at a disadvantage. It continues to promote the siphoning of our resources on the proverbial dinner table. For Africa to survive we need unity.”