On Wednesday, representatives and leaders of the Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria from the five Niger Delta states who were victims of the Shell Bonga oil spill urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd. ), to exert pressure on multinational oil companies to end environmental degradation and pollution in the region and accept responsibility for the devastation they had caused over the years.
At a news conference in Benin, Edo State, the fishermen noted that the ongoing impact of oil firms’ operations had not only devastated their major source of income, but also constituted a significant danger to the people’s health.
Speaking through their lawyer, Chima Williams, who is also the Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria and the winner of the 2022 Goldman Environment Prize for Africa, the group sought a workable solution to the environmental devastation caused by oil company operations.
While praising President Buhari for the great measures he has taken in environmental conservation and preservation over the years, Williams urged the President to guarantee that petroleum extraction corporations are held accountable for recovering the environment.
“Mr President,” he said, “I want to use this medium to appeal to you to use your good offices and as a caring father to bring all the parties together, including all the petroleum extractive companies, such as Shell, Exxon Mobil, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, and Total Energy, as the victims of their operations, relevant government agencies, and authorities, to discuss workable solutions to the environmental despoliation arising from their operational methodologies in the country.”
“In a situation where multinational oil companies are currently fleeing their responsibilities of restoring the Nigerian environment to the way it was before their extractive adventures, citizens whose livelihood patterns have been either distorted or dislodged by the dislocation of their societal fabrics in the name of divestment should also be addressed, and operations should be discouraged until the necessary is done.”
“I feel that as a listening parent, you have always attended to the oppressed masses of Nigerians, particularly the fisherman affected by the Shell Bonga oil leak.” I trust you will offer them relief before your government ends.”