THE CURRENT STATE OF THE DELTA
Since 1956, has there been any improvement in the region? Kaine Agary answers that question: “Much hasn’t changed generally. I think there is more understanding outside of the region of what the issues are but there’s no actual change in the lives of the people and the infrastructure.
The current state of the Niger Delta is not appealing one bit. The environmental effects are just so much and one would wonder why it has been left so all these years. The people are still bearing the after effects of the industrial activities and nothing has been done.
Gas flaring is still on after the country’s initial promise of ending it by now. President of the senate, Bukola Saraki, in a publication by allafrica.com (1/6/2017) regrettably remarked “…only God knows how many people have lost their lives to gas flaring…” That is just the best summary of the situation.
He further notes that “while statistics may not be accurate, the quantity of gas flared in Nigeria exceeds over 40 per cent of the gas flared annually across Africa, which amounts to about $7 billion in waste, apart from economic waste being a consequence of gas flaring”.
According to the NNPC,
Nigeria has an estimated 159 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven natural gas reserves, giving the country one of the top ten natural gas endowments in the world. Due to a lack of utilization infrastructure, Nigeria still flares about 40% of the natural gas it produces and re-injects 12% to enhance oil recovery. Official Nigerian policy is to end gas flaring completely by 2008. The World Bank estimates that Nigeria accounts for 12.5% of the world’s total gas flaring. Shell estimates that about half of the 2 Bcf/d of associated gas — gaseous by-products of oil extraction — is flared in Nigeria annually.
2008, it said, and this is 2017. Nigeria has however, managed to reduce the gas flaring by about 18% according to the World Bank statistics but that is not something to cheer about. The country still remains on the top ten gas flaring countries list and flaring about 75% of gas produced.
There are so much effects of gas flaring on the people. Ikot-Bassey Essien, the chief of Ibeno, a border settlement in Akwa Ibom State lamented their woes from the epidemic:
Now, take a look at our buildings. See how the roofing sheets have all turned brown due to the gas they are flaring.
Look at them, the problem is getting out of hands and we need the government to step in before it leads to other things. When rain falls, you can’t even use the water for anything at all. To dig for good water here can gulp up to #800,000. Anything less than that, you will end up drinking contaminated water.
Enraged by the situation, Gomba fumes. He thinks gas is still being flared
…because the government thinks it doesn’t matter. The lives that are at stake are not theirs. Since I was a child, I’ve heard the government talk about the timeline for stopping gas flaring and then penalties for erring companies. But the same government has not committed to stopping it. There are two perspectives to it. It is not just the pollution of the environment that is the issue. It is the wastage of our resources that is the second aspect of it. That gas is so much money and it is the resources of the Delta. So what they are doing is the extraction of convenience. The crude is selling so let’s keep taking from the crude and waste their gas. Gas is so much money! So we lose in two ways: we lose our resources by flaring gas and we have our health endangered from the same gas flaring. That’s one thing we must talk about.
From Wikipedia report:
Gas flares have potentially harmful effects on the health and livelihood of nearby communities, as they release poisonous chemicals including nitrogen dioxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds like benzene, toluene, xylene and hydrogen sulfide, as well as carcinogens like benzapyrene and dioxins. Humans exposed to such substances can suffer from respiratory problems. These chemicals can aggravate asthma, cause breathing difficulties and pain, as well as chronic bronchitis. Benzene, known to be emitted from gas flares in undocumented quantities, is well recognized as a cause for leukaemia and other blood-related diseases. A study done by Climate Justice estimates that exposure to benzene would result in eight new cases of cancer yearly in Bayelsa State alone.
And then, Oil Spill is still there, destroying the soil and the waters. The Ogoni case is a devastating example. The chairman of Bodo City Council of Chiefs also lamented what they have been suffering since 2008 that oil spilled in their community.
Since 2008/2009, when we had this spill, it have been like this. The water we drink with the chemical element it contains, affect the lungs. Go around the community, you will see posters of people for burial. We bury not less than four people every weekend. That tells you how we are dying. And it is not unconnected to the pollution we consume daily, the bad water and food. The pumpkins and vegetables we plant contain some toxins got from the soil and we eat them like that daily. We don’t have anything else to eat than what we produce. The situation is still as bad as it was the first week the spill occurred. All we can say is for government to help us fast track the process of clean up so we can live our normal lives and die normally. We are very worried. Let them come to our aid. They did not even create an emergency camp since this thing happened. If you see the water we have when it rains, it is simply hydrocarbon. It makes our farms lose fertility. As for fishes, our mangroves are destroyed. Fishes make homes in the mangroves but now, they have gone farther into the oceans since the places they hide and breed are no more. Our people with their little canoes cannot paddle to such areas. So, that has affected our means of livelihood, both for farmers and fishers.
Can anything be more miserable than that? One of the villagers told of how they go swimming in the river and get stained by oil but since they have no other water body close enough for swimming, they cannot resist the temptation of using it that way. Such is a perfect example of humans beings indirectly oppressed by their own government.
The Ibeno Chief cried about the spill in their place: “Any time this spill occurs, the previous one was six months ago, you will not see any fish around here. And our occupation here is fishing. If the fishes are killed or chased away, what becomes of us? Most times when our people go to the sea to fish, they are harassed by security men of the oil company.”
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