8 Aug 2011
Following on the heels of admission by the Royal Dutch Shell oil company of responsibility for two main oil spills in Ogoniland, the UNEP published a report last week highlighting the extent of oil pollution in this part of Nigeria.
An estimated 546 million gallons of oil has spilled on a surface area of about 600 sq miles over a period of four decades. The ecological cost to flora and fauna is inestimable and the pollution has affected the livelihood of over 69,000 people by destroying farmland, decimating fish and polluting tens of thousands of (water) wells. Extremely high levels of Benzene- a cancer causing pollutant has been detected in many of the polluted wells. Some wells have been found to contain benzene pollutant that is over 900 times the accepted safety levels.
It is estimated that any clean-up work will take up to 30 years to accomplish and may cost $ 1 billion. If the clean-up is ever initiated it will be the ‘mother of all clean-ups’ in the history of this planet.
The disaster of Egoniland is a legacy of the cozy relationship existing between inept and corrupt rulers on one hand and greedy corporations or individuals involved in the exploitation of natural resources on the other hand. Since independence, Nigeria, like many other African countries has been unfortunate to have a ruling class that was always hand- in- glove with the oil companies. Those who stood against the excesses of the oil companies were always seen as enemies of the government. No wonder Abacha (Nigeria’s former military ruler) set up a kangaroo court that tried and hung Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight Egoni activists in 1995 for daring to speak out against big oil. Here are some of Saro-Wiwa’s last words at the military tribunal; “The Company [Shell] has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learnt here may prove useful to it for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the Company has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished”.
Thanks, perhaps to the highly publicized B.P. oil spill in the U.S last year, many people are taking more interest on this subject and thereby vindicating the cause Saro-Wiwa died for.
Read this article (link below) I wrote last year with the caption “ANOTHER VIEW OF THE B.P OIL SPILL” to appreciate how the things I said then tie with what you have just finished reading.
Njei Moses Timah