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Vanguard Newspaper 02 April 2019

28 — Niger-Delta

28 — Niger-Delta Voice, TUESDAY, APRIL 2, , 2019 VOL. 1: NO. 187 TUESDAY, APRIL 2, 2019 DESPOLIATION BY OIL COMPANIES: We dwell in river but have no potable water, Bayelsa community cries *We buy water to drink from the city – Chief Jonathan-Kpeli, Azuzuama Traditional Head By Samuel Oyadongha AZUZUAMA- RESIDENTS of Azuzuama, a waterside oil community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, have cried out that they do not have drinkable water and no farmland anymore, despite residing in a riverside setting all because of exploitation by multinational oil companies. The inhabitants spoke through the traditional head of the community, Chief Otubo Jonathan-Kpeli, when the newly inaugurated Bayelsa State Environmental Degradation Commission of Inquiry headed by by Most Rev. Rt Hon. Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, visited the community and others on a fact-finding mission. Azuzuama residents while conducting members of the commission round the impacted sites said the visit to the troubled communities would further help focus national and international attention on their many years of neglect and suffering. We buy potable water from the city —Traditional head Chief Jonathan-Kpeli, said, "The sources of water, which is the rivers, have been polluted, no potable water to drink except only when we buy water from the city.” "Oil exploitation in my community, Azuzuama, is no longer a blessing to our people as I am speaking, there are no farmlands for us to cultivate. "This suffering and smiling: the common aliment here is cancer and kidney disease. The years of pollution has destroyed our means of livelihood,” he added. . Indigenes back Dickson on Commission of Inquiry The commission inaugurated last Thursday in Yenagoa by Governor Dickson has been to Ebelebiri and Ikarama communities in Yenagoa local government area and Azuzuama in the deep swamp area of Southern Ijaw local government area to see firsthand the level of degradation and pollution of the environment that the very existence of the people depends on. The offensive stench from the BAYELSA… THE JERUSALEM OF IJAW NATION •Chairman of the Commission, Dr. John Sentumau at a spill site polluted river and creek leading to Azuzuama is one of the several environmental challenges confronting oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta. Indigenes of oil- bearing communities in the state, who have had to contend with many years of environmental despoliation occasioned by the activities of oil multinationals, have thrown their weight behind the Commission, which is to investigate negative impact of oil exploration over the years. At Ikarama community, youth president, Mr Benjamin Walter, described the spills occasioned by oil exploitation as worrisome to the people. Walter said the move by Bayelsa Government to investigate the harmful impact of environmental degradation would go a long way to checkmate the wrongs of the multinational oil firms in their host communities. Equipment failure Scientific Officer, Bayelsa Ministry of Environment, Mr Bob Keniyinboh, said that the cause of spillage was mainly equipment failure of the oil company and commended the setting up of commission of inquiry on the state. Gov blasts oil companies By Davies Iheamnachor PORT HARCOURT- RESIDENTS of Kwawa, an Ogoni oil community in Khana Local Government Area, Rivers State, have complained that they shelter a crude oil flow station, yet have no electricity and villagers still use lamp after more than two decades. Women leader in the community, Mrs. Ukeria Brownson Ibam, who barred the position of her people, said, “We are surprised at the treatment we are receiving. We have a flow station, yet we have not seen electricity at any time, we still use lanterns, we are suffering.” She spoke at a media interactive meeting in Port Harcourt on the implementation of the United Women HYPREP programme Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, Report and the Emergency Measures in Ogoni land, Rivers state, where the KEBETKACHE Women Development and Resource Centre, Port Harcourt, drew women leaders from the four Governor Dickson while Ogoni local government areas. inaugurating the Mrs. Ibam further bemoaned, commission asserted that “We do not have hospital and we the mindless activities of thought that through the UNEP the multinational oil firms Report we will get one, but in the oil rich state were nothing. We do not have good responsible for the high school; we do not know what is infant mortality rate in happening in Hydrocarbon Bayelsa and the Niger Pollution Remediation Project, Delta. HYPREP.” He said that a UN survey Meanwhile, Ogoni women revealed that crude oil leaders who attended the spillage causes the death of programme have grumbled aloud over 16,000 infants within over the outbreak of strange the first month of birth in the diseases, including cancer of the Niger Delta. skin, following their continuous "The Niger Delta use of contaminated water in the environment is in turmoil area. and the livelihood of the They also regretted that officials people in peril because of the do not give women adequate insensitive degradation of opportunity to participate in the the environment by remediation process, creating international oil firms who are critical lapses in the driven solely by a quest to make implementation of UNEP Report. money. 'The flagrant abuse of the Niger SPDC not operating Delta environment as clearly Ogoni for over 20 years shown by available statistical evidence, indicated that about 40 NDV investigation, however, million barrels of crude oil are showed that Shell Petroleum spilled into the damaged Development Company, which is environment of the Niger Delta as the operator of the flow station, opposed to four million barrels in Yola Prospect, under Oil Mining the United States. Lease, OML 11, has abandoned "The ravages oil production has the flow station and other projects reduced life expectancy in in Ogoni land for more than 20 Bayelsa and other oil producing years because of its peculiar states in the Nigeria by ten years problem with the natives. below the National Average," he said. Continues on page 29 • Dr. Patience Osaro-Ejiji Residents of Rivers community with flow station bemoan using lantern for 20 yrs running •Ogoni women scream over cancer epidemic, early menopause, miscarriage •Leaders blast HYREP for ineffective implementation of UNEP Report •We keep to UNEP standard – Dr Dekil, HYREP Project Coordinator • Mrs. Grace Nwidee CROSS RIVER… THE PEOPLE’S PARADISE write-off health The women echoed that has failed in carrying out the emergency measures outlined by the UNEP in the project. Speaking, Mrs. Grace Nwidee, a native of K-Dere, Gokana local government area, asserted, “The problem we have today is that they have politicized the cleanup of Ogoni. They use the divisions they have caused in Ogoni to suck the money meant for the project.” “The first thing we wanted in the clean up was good drinking water and health care system. However, they failed us. Until now, we do not have good water. The health programme they did is not want we wanted. “We the women thought that they would have given us serious health attention, but the only thing we saw was one day health programme, it is not good enough for people that have been living in oil devastated environment. “We are dying of health problems, diseases arising from drinking of polluted water. Our women experience miscarriage and early menopause. We need intervention of the Federal Government,” she added. Give us tractors and hospitals Nwidee said, “For women to benefit, they should build good hospital for us, provide drugs and doctors.” “We also need tractors to start agriculture in a larger scale. They should also train the women in how to use this equipment in farming.” Cancer prevalent in Ogoni —Osaro-Ejiji A women leader in Eleme local government area, Dr. Patience Osaro-Ejiji, expressed worries cancer plague in the area allegedly caused by pollution. Osaro-Ejiji said, “In the project, women are not carried along because they believe it is a man’s world, but they forgot that we are suffering more. Our crops are not growing well again, yet we have children to feed.

Niger-Delta Voice, TUESDAY, APRIL 2, , 2019 — 29 By Chioma Onuegbu UYO – SECRETARY, Council of Chiefs, Ikot Uso Akpan community, Itu Clan, Itu Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, Elder Michael Uko, has revealed that it is a taboo in the entire clan for anybody to slaughter and eat any variety of monkey. Uko, who stated this at a oneday promotional seminar in Uyo on the critically endangered Sclater’s monkey species, locally called “Adiaha Awa- Itam”, meaning first daughter of Itam. Sclater’s guenon, also known as Sclater’s monkey and the Nigerian monkey, is an old world monkey first described by Reginald Innes Pocock in 1904 and named after Philip Sclater. An arboreal and diurnal primate that lives in the forests of southern Nigeria The community leader said, “Ikot Uso Akpan Itam village is blessed with a waterfall that empties into a stream (Idim Afia). In this stream, you could still find trees that provide shed to the water bodies and serve as habitat for the monkeys (guenon) Whereas Itam clan generally forbids the eating or killing of monkeys of any kind, it is only in Ikot Uso Akpan Itam village that you could find the greatest number of Sclater’s monkey in the clan. “This could be attributed to the presence of our customers and tradition of maintaining the age long belief system of not cutting trees or killing monkeys in sacred Ikwat forest, which provides habitat for the monkeys. Ikwat rain forest habitat still remains the biggest sacred forest preserved in Akwa Ibom state for the Sclater’s monkey,” he asserted. He noted that the presence of the monkey primate species in the village was one of the tourist attractions in the area, adding that residents welcome partnership from both local and international organizations to develop ecotourism in their community. Sweet and bitter tale of THE TEAM Emma Amaize - Editor Samuel Oyadongha - Yenagoa Gabriel Enogholase- Benin City Jimitota Onoyume- Warri Festus Ahon- Asaba Egufe Yafugborhi- Port Harcourt Emmanuel Una- Calabar Akpokona Omafuaire- Warri Godwin Oghre- Sapele Harri-Okon Emmanuel- Uyo Chioma Onuegbu-Uyo Ike Uchechukwu- Calabar Davies Iheamnachor- Port Harcourt Emem Idio- Yenagoa Brisibe Perez- Ughelli Theresa Ugbobu- Agbor Ochuko Akuopha- Oleh Chancel Bomadi Sunday - Bomadi Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu- Benin City Nath Onajoke, Asaba Chijioke Nwankpa, Port- Harcourt AKWA-IBOM…LAND OF PROMISE ITAM: A’Ibom clan where it’s taboo to kill, eat monkey •People talk to monkeys and they respond - Elder Michael Uko •Why Ikot Uso Akpan Itam is home to Sclater’s monkey •Scalter’s monkey Scalter’s monkey Uko, however, admitted that the people were always in constant conflict with the monkeys over invasion and destruction of their farmlands, but they still take pleasure in the “Today, there is cancer of the skin now in Eleme, we are experiencing heavy soot and rain water in our communities is so dark that we cannot even wash with it. We expected comprehensive health scheme monkeys. “The monkeys invade our farmlands and become pests, destroying farm crops and fruits that are meant for human consumption, leaving the indigenes with hunger, starvation and poverty. are over 30 years of age that we, as parents, are still feeding. If we fail to provide for them, they may go out and join cultism. Therefore, there is need to engage our youths so that they will stop involving in acts that will re-pollute the environment after cleaning,” she asserted. Gender sensitivity Osaro-Ejiji confessed that SPDC was operating in Ogoni, it was very sensitive to issue of gender balance. She urged HYPREP to emulate Shell in the project, adding that the 1,200 slots provided for women in the four local government areas were discouraging. She said, “Shell is fairer to women than HYPREP, HYPREP should emulate Shell, they are fair to women, it is in the policy.” Ogoni water seriously polluted — Kebetkache Executive Director of KEBETKACHE, Ms. Emem Okok, in her address, noted that a study carried out by the group showed that polluted water abound in the area. Represented by the Project Notwithstanding, we love and cherish the monkeys. “1t is always a pleasant and wonderful spectacle to see a monkey sit on the branch of a tree, pluck leaves and place it on its thigh and weave it in the manner that women in the village weave rope in response to definite instruction. “In the village spring and farmlands, one could talk to monkeys and they respond to your directive. You could carry cassava, palm fruits, maize and other edible crops on your head and a monkey from a nearby tree jumps and takes some of it from your head,” he further disclosed. UNDP okay with Ikot Osu Akpan Itam conservation plan- Odele, UNDP The Head Sustainable Development, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Mr. Muyiwa Odele, said his organization was impressed with the community’s tradition and decision on the conservation and protection of the monkey species. “There are about 13 such monkey populations across the country, but the population of Ikot Osu Akpan Itam is the most secured and that is why the UNDP has invested enough resources, assistance in this community”, he said. My worries —Dr Ebe, RONEL Consult Managing Director of RONEL Consult Limited, a firm of environmental consultants and biodiversity experts, Dr Isidore Akpan Ebe, thanked the UNDP and Global Environment Residents of Rivers community with flow station bemoan using lantern for 20 yrs running Continued from page 28 “We were expecting better health scheme for Ogoni people, but they came to give us Paracetamol, this is not the kind of health programme recommended in the UNEP report. “We need comprehensive health scheme, where the process will be thorough. They should come and use a primary health centre or build centre in at least each of the local government areas so that people who are sick can always seek intervention.” “The only way forward is that they should include names of women leaders that will not compromise in bringing what belongs to the women to them. “We have children that Officer of KEBETKACHE Women Development and Resource Centre, Port Harcourt, Nelly Umoren, she said that the meeting contributes to creating platform for representation of community women groups to project their voices on issues of implementation of the emergency measures. “One of our key findings revealed that as high as 91.5 per cent of the respondents indicated that public water supply is not available in their neighborhood. “During the learning and exchange visits conducted by KEBETKACHE, community women, including widows are demanding to be consulted on their preferred skills before the HYPREP planned training of 1,200 women “Some of the women are expecting to be given tractors to promote their farming activities. The women are expecting to be included in all decision making structures and processes as regards the cleanup process,” she said. HYREP complying with UNEP standard —Dr. Dekil However, the Project Facility GEF, sponsors of the Niger Delta Biodiversity Project for their concerns. He, nonetheless, lamented that the environment is worse off today than it has ever been because of high- scale deforestation, habitat fragmentation, changing land use pattern, climate change and loss of biodiversity worldwide. “It is however, interesting to note that despite the perturbations going on in the tropics rainforest worldwide, the presence of the critically endangered Sclater’s monkey specie (Cercopithecus sclateri) in Ikot Uso Akpan Itam in Itu local government area of Akwa Ibom state has been established and documented. “We will continue to engage the public in a discourse that will eventually lead to guided tourism and so contribute to the economy of the Ikot Uso Akpan Itam community, nay Akwa Ibom, and Nigeria”, he said. Essien assures govt support Commissioner of Environment and Solid Minerals, Dr. Iniobong Essien, who commended the community, said, “It is common knowledge that Ikot Uso Akpan Itam is a unique and outstanding tourism site due to the presence of Sclater’s monkey.” “I therefore wish to encourage all managers of culture and tourism at the state and local government levels to make the necessary efforts to develop this site in partnership with the private sector in order to attract both domestic and International investors and tourists. “The state government will leave no stone unturned in putting in place the necessary biodiversity conservative infrastructure that will support implementation of the ideas and efforts of the development partners, particularly, the ongoing review of our environmental laws and regulations,” said. Commissioner Essien noted that monkey, tortoise and crocodile are among the few fortunate animals that the Niger Delta Biodiversity Project is assisting local communities to preserve in the face of increasing threat to their survival. •Mrs. Ukeria Brownson Coordinator, HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil, stated that HYPREP in implementing the project in line with the recommendations of UNEP. Dekil said during a visit of UNEP Representative to Port Harcourt that the agency gave women opportunity in the project and they would have more chances to participate, noting that the people would get potable water alongside the project and livelihood restored. Niger Delta Voice, 01 - 04-19