– Pledges to stand with victims of oil &gas pollution
Port Harcourt — The ongoing divestment from onshore to deep offshore by oil multinationals is a double jeopardy for Nigeria the nation’s economy, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria said on Tuesday.
ERA said the divestment by oil multinationals already was affecting the nation’s economy, saying that the process are improperly done, as the economy, jobs, and even host communities are not given consideration
Executive Director of ERA, Barr. Chima Williams, regretted that the divestment was done upside down, hence was already creating problems to the economy, citing the incessant cases of well blowout from some of these divested assets, which are now being operated by incapable firms.
Williams who is the 2022 Goldman Environmental Prize Winner, said indigenous firms who are buying the divested assets from multinationals must have the resources, manpower, technical know-how to handle the problems that are associated with the assets that they are inheriting.
Speaking in Port Harcourt, the ERA boss tasked the government and its agencies to thoroughly interrogate the processes of divestment, to ensure that the right thing is done and the citizens and not shortchanged.
He emphasised on the need for environmental remediation bond as well as recognition of the host communities in the design, development and implementation of the divestment.
“It will affect the Nigerian economy adversely. The divestment process itself has already started creating problems and those problems that are associated with the divestment process is currently ongoing and it impacts on the economy of Nigeria.
“When divestment happens there are loss of job opportunities and when people loose their jobs, the economy is impacted and revenue that will get to the government even from the operations of these companies will definitely reduce.
“The investing entities do they have the resources, manpower, technical know-how to handle the problems that are associated with assets that they are inheriting? Will they be able to create new jobs opportunities? Will they be able to remediate the environment? Will they be able to even pay all that the government is entitle to? These are questions that will impact on the economy.
“Whatever happens, there is destruction of citizens livelihoods. There is destabilization of community cohesion through crisis. When pollution occurs citizens becomes sick, the rate of sickness become higher and the government is expected to provide health facility that will take care of citizens that are suffering from ill health and somebody that is sick definitely will not pay tax. In all of this, the economy suffers for it.
“This is why there should be a greater interrogation of the processes and relevant government authorities should put their feet down and ensure that the right thing are done in the first place.
“One of the things we’re asking for is that before you divest, put down environmental remediation bond, based on an amount that will be discussed and agreed by relevant MDAs working together with select CSOs, community leaders and both the divesting and investing entity because the environmental remediation bond should be provided by both the divesting and investing entities.
“Secondly we must recognised the place of the community, under whose feet these resources are extracted, as critical stakeholders host communities must be involved in the design, development and implementation of the divestment process.
These are the keys among many things that can protect both the divesting and investing entities, protect Nigeria citizens and protect Nigerian economy.”
ERA explained that it will be difficult to monitor activities of oil multinationals in the deep offshore, especially since these firms even while onshore, have always had their activities shrouded in secrecy.
“Divestment is a double jeopardy for Nigeria because these divesting entities are divesting onshore where we can see them to go deep offshore where it is difficult for us to monitor their activities. And so our government is still giving them incentives to develop their facilities and activities deep offshore, that should not happen again because it is double jeopardy for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“We must collaborate to achieve a greater result, already NNPC has stopped Mobil from divesting and the court has stopped Shell from divesting some of its assets.
“Nigeria is our only country, we don’t have any other place to call our own, so we cannot sit back and watch people in the name of oil exploration business destroy our people and our environment. It is our collective responsibility to protect, preserve and defend our country.”
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