Report from the Niger Delta Oil Impacted Community Dialogue held on 16th, July 2022, at Olomoro , Isoko Kingdom, of Delta State.
Olomoro in Isoko kingdom hosted the Niger Delta Oil Impacted Communities Dialogue with the theme: “Oil Politics: The People’s Plight on the divestment plans by OICs”.
This was a community dialogue designed to identify and engage selected communities, who have being impacted from environmental pollution due oil extraction, to implement the community acceleration for climate action, increase local community awareness on the IOCs divestment plan, its implication for affected communities, and hold them accountable for damages done to their ecosystem, livelihoods and health’s.
The event brought together representatives of the impacted communities in Delta, Bayelsa, Port-Harcourt and Edo state respectively to awaken climate consciousness among community heads, Youth leaders, women, influencers, and key stakeholders etc., to take appropriate actions to develop a campaign message, advocacy that will hold duty bearers and multinational accountable, as major IOCs like Shell are divesting from the region without proper remediation and cleanup and adequate compensation for the damage they have done to the local communities.
The need to strengthening local community action for climate justice is imperative at this period because polluters are planning their exist from the region, divestment without remediation and also without proper cleaning which, is injustice to the region, because the environment is our right and we ought to demand for restoration of our ecosystem.
Barr. Chima Williams, the 2022 Goldman Environmental prize (the Green Noble Prize) Winner for Africa, spoke on the best fit strategy for holding polluters accountable.
In his words, community members can not stop divestment but must ensure that before divestment occurs, they should first restore their environment to the state it was before they leave, community members should be carried along in the process; Community members should call on the government through their various ministries, working with selected civil societies, community leaders as well as the divesting and investing entities to discuss and agree on environment remediation funds that has component to take care of compensation and damages. The funds will be use to settle and resolve problems.
Prince Israel Orekha, the Executive Director of Connected Advocacy spoke on community organizing the on the need to understand the issues using their people power or their resources which could be their history, their culture, knowledge of their environment to bring their collective strength together in planning, designing and engaging, working together in a single purpose speaking in one unified voices and amplifying their voices to demand the change they want.
He emphasized the need to have document evidence of the damages that has occurred, outline their community demands which should be signed by their community leaders, as this will become a legal document to demand remediation and compensations.
It is significant to note that community leaders must resist the temptation of selling out their struggle because of personal gains. Leaders must be ready to be accountable to their community members. He also educated the community members on what they need to do to protect and preserve their land.
He encouraged them to work together as a team and employ them to deploy SMART advocacy campaign strategy, evidence gathering and also find out previous agreements with the multinationals and the level of implementation of such agreements.
Comrade Paul Agbama, who is the Board Chairman of Isoko youth assembly worldwide spoke on the suffering his community is undergoing due to the activities of IOCs causing pollutions and health hazard with no proper health audit, no remediation and compensation made and now, the IOCs are planning to leave which is totally unacceptable.
A Woman Leader, Mrs Okote Charity from Olomoro community emphasized on the need for inclusion of all gender because they all suffered from same impact of environmental pollution associated with oil extraction.
Omagufi Onoriode Anthony the president of the Isoko Youth Assembly Worldwide, thanked all the participants for finding time to be part of this historic event and also asserted that together, we will demand for environmental justice and the time for action is now. Also, climate change is real, so let’s work together and make a difference for our people and the planet at large.
The Connected Advocacy team further went to the gas flaring site in the community that has being flaring for ages, to obtain first hand information from the scene of the environmental crisis that the flaring is contributing to the communities health and means of survival.