The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria(ERA/FoEN) has accused the international oil companies(IOCs) of distorting the concept of divestment to confused host communities so that they will not be held accountable for years of polluting the environment
Executive Director of ERA, Barr Chima Williams, said at a one-day “Community-CSOs Engagement” organised by ERA/Friends of the Earth Nigeria in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State that the IOCs were craftily selling their assets to local operators who did not have adequate information and capacity to clean the environment
In the one-day programme tagged, “Motives Behind IOCs’ Divestments in the Niger Delta.” Barr Chima explained further that the IOCs were now moving their exploration activities up stream where they might not be adequately investigated by organizations like ERA/FoEN and well as avoid protest from host communities
He urged the host Communities to unite and demand for adequate compensation from the multinational oil companies operating in their area just as ERA charged the multinational companies not to hide under the guise of divestments and refused adequate compensation to the oil producing communities for the negative impact of their Oil Exploration and Exploitation activities over the years
The ERA Director said further: “When the divestment started taking place towards end 2021 early 2022, we felt that this is abnormal and we did internal analysis of the situation. We discovered that the IOCs were turning the concept of divestment upside down. Whereas, in global setting, the issue of divestment is removing public funds from private business but what we have in Nigeria is multinational selling off their investment and moving upstream were we lack the capacity to monitor them, so they can continue to pollute our environment..”
On his part, the Coordinator, Kristal Kare Foundation, Mr Jonah Gbemre said the multinational companies have impoverished Niger Deltans as their exploration and exploitation which have resulted to gas flaring have impacted negatively on the people. According to him, gas flaring has reduced the life span of the people as many now suffer from blindness, cancer, miscarriages among others.
He said, due to the activities of the oil companies, poverty was now rampage because many of the fishes have died, lands for agriculture have been taken over by the oil companies yet, no adequate compensations are paid to the various communities. He said until consorted efforts are made by all, Niger Deltans would continue to suffer amidst abundant natural resources.
Speaking also, Chief Omafume Amurun, a veteran journalist said some Niger Deltans collude with the government to work against the interest of their people just as he said the OICs and government use divide and rule tactics to suppress the people hence it is possible for multinational companies to pollute the environment without adequate compensations. According to the Uvwie Chief, multinational companies use propaganda to confuse the people and they begin to fight themselves.
He cautioned the youths not to fight themselves in name of what they will get from oil companies just as he advise the people also not to collude with the government to work against themselves as at the end of the day, the unborn generation of Niger Deltans would suffer.
On her part, Founder, Development Initiative For Communities Impact, Dr. Rachael Misan Ruppee said, divestment has negative impacts on the women as the domestic companies cannot afford to pay what is due for the women in the various communities whereas most women are heads of household.