The World Daily
Nigerian communities demand action over month-long oil spill

Members of the Nembe community paddle a canoe across Santa Barbara River following the oil spill, November 25. Photo:Reuters 


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | DECEMBER 8th 2021 


Oil and gas spills, linked to a leaking wellhead, have been affecting Nigerian rivers and fishing communities for more than a month now, and the members of the country’s Nembe community have decided to protest the unsolved crisis.

Dozens of fishing settlements have been affected by the spurting reserves of crude oil and gas since early November. The Nembe coastline was among the affected areas, alongside the Niger Delta river, which has a history of being polluted in this manner, as well as the Santa Barbara River. The spillage also leaks into the Atlantic Oceans, presenting a potentially wider scale to the thus unsolved issue.

“We want the world to hear our cry that we are on the verge of extinction,” said secretary of the Nembe Se Congress, Allen Jonah. “Let the international community not just sit idle to see that whatever is happening will calm down by itself.”

Nembe Se Congress (NCS) is the group that led the protests on Monday, on the streets of Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa state. It occurred primarily outside of the Nigerian Union of Journalists’ press centre, with protestors demanding that something be done about it, and that the crisis has been left alone for too long.

Reports in media have described the whole affair as the biggest oil spill disaster in the history of the Nigerian petroleum industry. Much of the case is still under investigation, though it’s known that the leaking wellhead is run and operated by Aiteo Eastern E&P, the largest domestic oil firm in the country.

A clean-up operation is already underway, according to Aiteo, with the company’s director of asset protection and community matters, Andrew Oru, having stated to reporters last month: “this particular incident has not produced much crude oil in the environment and the crude oil has been easily contained.”

It was added by state governor Douye Diri that Aiteo should by no means think that “this criminal neglect of its facilities and disregard for human life and the environment, as demonstrated by its conduct, will not be accounted for.”

In a statement that had been released on November 22, however, Aiteo attempted to avoid blame by claiming that the spill was caused by sabotage. 


They stated: “Aiteo remains committed to ascertaining, immediately the well head is secure, the immediate and remote causes of the leak which will be driven by a [joint investigative visit] that will follow.”

Despite the biological diversity of the Niger Delta, as well as its many fishing settlements that rely on it, and the connecting rivers, it’s slowly grown to be one of the most polluted places on earth due to continuous production of oil over the decades. 639 oil spills in the past two years have been recorded in the region by Nigeria’s National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).

“We are fishermen by nature [and] that river is what we survive on; the mangrove, huge marine resources is what we feed on,” added Jonah. 


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2021 

Source: Al Jazeera, Mongabay