By AkpoBari Celestine, Head of Community at Social Action and National Coordinator of the Ogoni Solidarity Forum
Almost a month after the Ogoni fishing community of Bodo rejected a 7.5 billion Naira offer for massive spills which Shell accepted liability for, Bunu, another Ogoni farming community in Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State was on Wednesday 9 October 2013 thrown into an unhappy mood. One of Shell’s oil facilities located very close to the Rivers State Songhai farm in the community was reported to have spilled and be still spilling an as yet to be quantified volume of crude oil.
According to a statement credited to the Mayor of the Local Government Area, Hon Gbenekanu Kuanpie who visited the site, “the spill was attributed to a failure from Shell’s unserviced equipment in the area”
It’s time human/environmental rights campaigners all over the world come together to ensure the immediate implementation of the two-year old UNEP report recommendations on Ogoni environment. The recurring and ongoing spills would have been averted if the UNEP report that recommended decommissioning was implemented by the President Jonathan government upon the receipt of that Report in August 2011.
It’s a terrible situation when the President, one of the sons of the Niger Delta, who benefited immensely from the Ogoni struggle is finding it difficult to implement the outcome of UNEP investigation, which the late Northern President Yar’Adua graciously and courageously initiated.
During the second anniversary commemoration of the release of the report the Ogoni called a “death sentence”, a three-month ultimatum was given to the Federal Government to commence clean up of their land which UNEP said will take thirty five years to complete. The ultimatum, which expires on November 9 2013, may mark the beginning of a new phase of the Ogoni environmental campaign as the people have vowed to do all that they can to compel the government and Shell into taking action that will restore the once beautiful Ogoni environment.
At the time of writing this, the oil company is yet to take any positive action to contain the spill while the entire area has been cordoned off and the peoples’ only access road (Bunu, Baraobara-Kira road) is closed to prevent the poverty stricken, dispossessed farmers from scooping the flowing crude to try and prevent it from running into their homes.