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.