PRESS STATEMENT BY THE KEBETKACHE WOMEN DEVELOPMENT & RESOURCE CENTRE ON THE AFTERMATH OF THE HIKE IN THE PRICE OF FUEL BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA RELEASED ON FRIDAY, 6TH OF JANUARY 2012
WOMEN REJECT FUEL PRICE INCREASE
The Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre and the network of community women we work with strongly condemn the decision by the Federal Government to increase the price of petrol from N65 to N141 per litre beginning on the 1st of January 2012. The Federal Government led us and every other Nigerian to believe that no action in the direction of subsidy removal will be taken till the 1st of April 2012, but government took the good will of the people for granted and decided to welcome Nigerians into 2012 with the hard news of increase in the price of fuel from N65 to N141.
WE HAVE SPOKEN. WE STAND FOR JUSTICE!!!!
Signed: EMEM J. OKON
Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre Made a Call for Action to Onelga Women to Join the Campaign Against Gasflaring During A-One-Day Conference at Okwuzi Community, Onelga, Rivers State
The conference reinforces, and strengthens the powerful contributions of groups, individuals and communities in the Niger Delta, efforts have made over the years to secure safer, healthier environments for all persons – women, men, boys, girls, children and communities. Kebetkache inspire increased agitation for environmental justice by the people. Environmental justice emphasizes accountability, democratic practices, equitable treatment and self determination, Women were mobilize at the community level to campaign against violence and environmental despoliation.
End gas flaring; clean Niger Delta Environment now, Government, oil coys told. Worried by the numerous problems, including health hazards associated with gas flaring and oil spillages in the Niger Delta, the federal government of Nigeria and the oil companies operating in the country have been urged to embark on the immediate holistic clean up of the Niger Delta environment messed up by oil pollutions and oil activities. The government and the oil operators were also called upon to put an end to gas flaring in the region. The calls were made during a one day conference on Gas Flaring, Women’s Rights and Global Climate Change organized by Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre on Monday, July 25, 2011 at Okwuzi community in ONELGA, Rivers state. The forum bemoaned the continued flaring of gas by oil companies and the failure of the government to take decisive actions against gas flaring, despite a High Court judgment in 2005 criminalizing gas flaring, saying that it is not only contemptuous, but an insult on the laws of the country. The forum noted that some of these flares have been on for over 50 years without stopping, pumping dangerous gas into the atmosphere. “For over 50 years, the oil and gas companies have operated with impunity in the Niger Delta, poisoning the water bodies and burning toxic flares that release green house gasses into the atmosphere”, lamented Emem Okon, Executive Director of Kebetkache while presenting a welcome address during the conference. Emem Okon who explained that the forum was aimed at inspiring increased agitation for environmental justice, noted that the oil companies have always advanced excuses to continue destroying the environment. She listed some of the problems associated with gas flaring and oil pollution to include global warming, climate change, acid rain, noise pollution, corrosion of roofs, crop failure, early menopause, and health hazards like chronic bronchitis, asthma, cancer and blood disorder among others. In addition to gas flaring with all the problems it has brought to the region, it was noted that oil pollutions have contributed their own quotas towards endangering the people of the region who bear the heavy brunt of oil operations. “Pollutions have led to the killing of soil fertility, destruction of farmlands and crops, destruction of aquatic life, and the poisoning of river which supply water to the communities. “Crop yield has reduced to the barest minimum as the land can no longer sustain cultivation after years of environmental degradation. The once very fertile area is fast losing fertility and capacity for sustainable agriculture due to the acidification of the soils by pollutions”, lamented one of the participants, Uduak Joseph Ilaumoh from Ibeno community of Akwa Ibom State.
Relieving the experience of Ogoni people, Bariala Kpalap, Information Officer of MOSOP stated that for the region, the practice has not only violated her legitimate rights to life, safe environment, dignity, etc but has also compromised our spiritual connection with the ancestors and gods. Gas flaring contains chemical substances that is life threatening and communities at close proximity to it are exposed to risks. These substances not only affect the environment, livelihoods and health but significantly harm homes and other structures, generate intense heat as well as cause hearing challenges owing to its deafening sound. Although, gas flaring has been suspended in Ogoni, its negative impacts continue to undermine their right to a safe and protected environment as contained in article 20 of the amended Nigerian constitution.
Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre in partnership with Gender and Development Action (GADA) hold a training and capacity building course on Service Delivery and Efficiency Enhancement for staff. The two day was held on 7th and 8th of June, 2011. In the conference room of GADA in Port Harcourt, participants include 8 Kebetkache staff and 9 GADA Staff. The objectives of the training include;
1. To acquaint participants with contemporary service delivery and work ethics knowledge
2. To enhance the efficiency and competence of participants, particularly in relation to their Duties.
3. To acquaint participants with current and contemporary information mgt methods
4. To expose participants to project mgt basics
5. To expose participants to personal self development areas such as goal setting, decision making, time management, etc.
6. To acquaint participants with personal and office safety/fire prevention knowledge
The course focused on goal setting, time management delegating responsibilities and authority, information management and record keeping, improving service delivery, SERVICOM; work ethics, decision making and problem analysis, project management, interpersonal relationship and peace building, office safety and fire prevention and stress management. The training was facilitated by Mr. Afolabi O. Adon.
Ms. Emen J. Okon of Kebetkache women Development and Resource Centre was at the Chevron Shareholders meeting, held at Chevron headquarters in San Ramon, California. Yesterday, I featured in a press conference held in front a Chevron gas station in San Francisco. This morning I went for the Shareholders meeting with a legal proxy and was allowed access into the meeting.
She spoke during the question and answers session telling Chevron CEO, Mr John Watson, that she represent the community women in the Niger Delta that are affected by Chevron’s oil and gas activities. women who are suffering early menopause, cancer, infertility issues; women drink water from polluted rivers and creeks. She also asked him why Chevron pollute the freshwater in the Niger Delta with impunity when they recognize freshwater as a fundamental social, environmental and economic resource. I asked him when Chevron will end gas flaring in the Niger Delta. I also demanded that Chevron management should meet with Niger Delta women and their international allies to discuss ending gas flaring in Nigeria.
John Watson said it is difficult for Chevron to end gas flaring now in the Niger Delta because of the disruptions of their operations. He said their phase out plans for gas flaring has been delayed by this disruptions. he however, boasted about Chevron’s community development projects in the Niger Delta. He mentioned the liquid gas project and the Partnership in the Niger Delta Development initiative. He said the Chevron leadership in Nigeria will meet with the Niger Delta women. there was no real commitment to this. We have decided to follow this up together with Justice In Nigeria Now (JINN).
There was a press conference outside Chevron office after the shareholders’ meeting by activists and community representatives from around the world who are members of the True Cost of Chevron Network – Alaska, Canada, Ecuador, Nigeria, Angola, Indonesia, Texas, Philipines, Richmond city in California.
Women traversed the globe from as far as Ecuador, Nigeria, Colombia and Indonesia to make their voices heard today at Chevron’s annual shareholder’s meeting in California. In contrast to last year–when activists were denied the mic–22 indigenous, First Nation and other community activists spoke at the meeting, supported by 150 protesters who gathered outside.
Chevron is America’s third largest company, with $19.1 billion in profits last year. It is also one of the several oil companies that benefit from the $4 billion in annual tax breaks the Senate voted to continue last week. According to Chevron’s YouTube page and its “We Agree” ad campaign, it has used these immense profits to help the environment, keep workers safe, and promote education. In its 2010 annual report, CEO John Watson calls 2010 “an outstanding year for Chevron.”
Women worldwide who say they have experienced the horrific environmental and human health tolls of Chevron’s business tactics beg to differ on all counts. They joined with other activists at GlobalExchange to create a third annual alternative annual report [PDF] for Chevron. It demands that instead of trying to clean up its image by greenwashing its ads, the corporation clean up its act. The introduction reads:
We, the communities who bear the costs of Chevron’s operations, have witnessed a year in which Chevron’s performance was anything but exceptional … Chevron continues its long history of ravaging natural environments, violating human rights, ignoring the longstanding decisions of Indigenous communities, destroying traditional livelihoods, and converting its dollars into unjust political influence in the United States and around the world.
The report, The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report, addresses [PDF] the “egregious corporate behavior” of Chevron in 2010, contending that it has inflicted immeasurable environmental, health and cultural damage, including:
- “ever-riskier and ever-deeper offshore projects”
- expansion of tar sand projects into environmentally delicate regions of Canada
- oil spills in Salt Lake City, Utah that dumped over 54,000 gallons of oil into Red Butte Creek
- an explosion in Indonesia that covered part of a village in hot crude oil and left two young girls with serious burn wounds
- releasing toxic pollution into the air through gas flaring (the burning of the unwanted natural gas produced in oil drilling), which has been linked to numerous women’s health problems
Today, representatives of communities affected by these projects traveled to California to attend the corporation’s annual shareholder’s meeting and present the report. Last year, Chevron refused to hear the stories of these representatives, even barring 17 legal proxy holders from attending the meeting–leaving them standing on the street corner outside. Emem Okon of Nigeria was one of these banned delegates, and she spoke this year, saying:
I am here to represent the women of the Niger Delta who live in communities near gas flares and who suffer health issues of infertility, early menopause, miscarriages, cancer, rashes; women who fish in waters polluted by Chevron; who drink Chevron polluted water because there is no other source of drinking water; women whose traditional means of livelihood of farming and fishing have been destroyed by chevron oil business activities. The women who confronted Chevron years back over the injustice perpetrated by Chevron in their communities.
The report quotes Okon further on the dangers women face from the flares:
Women in the communities near the gas flares experience high rates of infertility, early menopause, miscarriages, cancer and skin rashes. Think about the loss of an expected child. Think about young women having difficulty with pregnancies. Think about watching your family members become ill in a places where there are no health facilities.
Laura Livoti, founder of Justice in Nigeria Now, echoes Okon’s concerns and charges that what Chevron is doing is not only dangerous and immoral, but also illegal:
Gas flaring harms global health through the emission of greenhouse gases which cause climate change. It harms local health by releasing toxins that can cause asthma, cancer, respiratory illnesses, rashes and other diseases. Plus, the acid rain that results causes soil infertility, lower crop yields and hunger. Flaring gas that can cause these harms is immoral and Chevron management knows it. Plus, it’s illegal in Nigeria and has been since 1984.
Livoti, Okon, and other activists are motivated by the success of a case brought against Chevron by residents of remote parts of Ecuador’s jungles, including many strong women, in which the company was ordered to pay $9 billion in damages.
Despite this major victory, and the victory of the 22 speakers at today’s meeting, advocates must continue their hard work. Chevron has not yet agreed to pay the fines in Ecuador, and it has made plans to expand its oil ventures to other ecologically and culturally delicate areas. But activists such as Okon have demonstrated that they will not back down until their voices are heard and their grievances addressed.
Obumeze is one of the communities in Ahoada East Local Government Area in Rivers State. Obumeze is bounded by Okporowo on the north, Odiabidi on the west, Ogbede on the South and Ogligboko on the east. According to source its population is about 4,000, their major sustainable livelihood is farming.
Kebetkache’s engagement with Obumeze Community Started in 2004 with the facilitation and subsequent construction of 50 open market stall with support from European Union Micro Project Programme for 3 States (MPP3). Kebetkache implemented the project in partnership for Niger Delta Women for Justice (NDWJ). The process included a community appraisal that focus group discussions with women, youths and men together with community leaders.
In 2007 Kebetkache worked with Obumeze Community on a Project called Challenging Patriarchy, women inclusion in decision making bodies in their community. This project resulted in providing the widow’s with Cassava Processing Mill. February, 2010 Iyene Jeremiah and Idongesit Umoh attended a training in Ghana on Gender and Water; they came back & stepped down the training for the Organization.
On the 13th of September, 2010. Ms Monica Ayooma came from Ghana to assist Kebetkache in implementing the project for the widow’s project in Obumeze community to facilitate the activities at the processing mill. The project lasted between 14 to 18 of September 2010, speaking with Idongesit and Inyene they said ‘the project will provide water to the mill and it is expected that the entire project will enhance the economic status of the widows’ . Kebetkache will provide soft loans for the widows to promote their garri business and also plans to print flyers to advertise the mill to farmers in neighbouring communities. Kebetkache enjoys the support of Obumeze community leaders who pledged to assist the widows in sustaining the project.
Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre is a community action non-governmental Organization, we empower women, promoting human rights & gender equality, facilitating development, fostering democracy and social justice …
Contact: 10 Ibaa Street D/line Port Harcourt,
Rivers State, Nigeria
Tel: 08182845760, 08033363172
The Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre decries the rape of 13 female students of the University of Port Harcourt on Novemebr 14, 2009 by ex-militants who are camped in nearby Aluu community. The ex-militants broke out of their Aluu camp protesting non-payment of their N65,000 monthly allowance by the Federal government and descended on innocent and harmless students of the University of Port Harcourt raping the girls. Since the incident the amnesty committee has not issued any public statement to address the issue. They have neither explained why the committee defaulted in the payment of the monthly allowance to the militants nor have they told us how they plan to rehabilitate the vitims of this distardly act.
We call for an end to the rape of women in conflict and post conflict situations in the Niger Delta. We demand a public apology from the ex-militants for their unruly behaviour and unpardonable act of violence against UNIPORT girls. Meanwhile the Rivers State government should relocate the militants from Aluu camp to Bori camp.
The Mothers for Peace project commenced in 2007 when Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre mobilized over 250 community women to campaign and advocate for peace in their communitites through peace rallies. These rallies were held in Tere-ama community on March 10, 2007; In Emohua/Ogbakiri April 9, 2007 and in Ogoni July 21, 2007. The main objective of the rallies was to campagin against violence and conflict during the 2007 elections. After the peace rallies Kebetkache built the capacities of the women leaders on conflict management and peace-building; these women were also exposed to media engagement such as radio discussions, where they spoke about issues of violence and conflict in their communities as they impact on women. Now, with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) the women are carrying out peace education for youths and students in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers state.