Renowned environmentalist, Comrade Alagoa Morris has described as sad the 3% allocated to host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which was recently passed by the National Assembly.
He said it was a long wait by the people which did not yield the desired result and frowned at the 30% for frontier states, saying it was an insult to the people who
have been suffering the negative impact of environment pollution due to the oil exploration activities by multinationals.
Comrade Alagoa in an interview with Nigerdeltaconnect in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, also blamed governors and lawmakers from the Niger Delta for not showing serious concern about the PIB from the time it was introduced which gave their colleagues from the north, the impetus to decide the final outcome.
“During the administration of former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan it was Senator Paulker Emmanuel that chaired a committee on PIB, which did not have any representatives from the Southern governments but the Northern governments were fully represented, arguing against the South, that the South has NDDC, Amnesty and 13%”, he said.
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While lamenting that the oil in the region has become a curse rather than a blessing, the Bayelsa-born environmentalist said all hope was not lost to reclaim the desire of the people concerning the PIB, but that can only be achieved if the political leaders from the region collectively work together, irrespective of party or other differences.
Alagoa Morris, who is also the Head of Field Operations, Environment Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), accused multinationals of engaging in economic sabotage by under valuing the volume of exported crude oil and shying away from their responsibilities.
He expressed worry that the gradual divesting and movement of the activities of multinationals to offshore oilfields, is very dangerous, arguing that it will be hard to keep tabs on them because they are moving into international deep waters.
“These companies should be made to clean up both land and water before they are allowed to go offshore or the local companies taking over should be made to take responsibility for this cleaning.
“The more these companies go into international waters the more they will stop paying royalties to the country. It will be hard to keep tabs on their activities just like the Brass terminal explosion on 27 November 2013, we could not access the company because of their security in their facility”.
On the recent report by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), that crude oil theft accounts for over 90% of oil spills in the region, Comrade Alagoa said the agency was in the habit of releasing figures when it favours them.
His words: “In 2014 NOSDRA stated that Bayelsa State is the most polluted state in the Niger Delta but did nothing to clean up the state. Even in Ogoni the clean up has not been done. Sometimes the oil companies do not inform them about these spills. It is because of the pressure from civil society groups and ERA that is why Shell and other companies publish their spills on their website.
“In Biseni clan a spill occurred in February this year and the oil company has not done any clean up in the community. Oil spills occur almost everyday in the Niger Delta, if they are not followed we will not know.
“NOSDRA suffers from underfunding, in the sense that they depend on these oil companies to foot the bills for them to go for their field jobs which is not good. The regulatory bodies should be well funded for them to carry out their duties.
“They are working but it is not enough, that is why they should be properly funded financially, increase capacity, engage more people, send them for training, so that they will be able to match the oil companies technically too.
“There was a spill in Kaiama community in 2019, this spill occurred at 6 o’clock. The oil company (Shell) argued that the spill was sabotaged, after investigations by NOSDRA and Shell, it was discovered that the spill was caused by corrosion”.
According to Alaagoa, “Another spill occurred around that area at the same 6 o’clock position due to technical failure, they have not done anything about cleaning up the area, NOSDRA has not done a follow up as the ERA did”.