The Ogoni haven’t lost hope. They’ve been fighting against Shell for their land and rights since day one and they continue to do so – and they need our solidarity.
Over the past 50 years, nearly 1.5 million tons of oil has been released into the delicate ecosystem of the Niger Delta in southeast Nigeria. All told, that works out to be about an ‘Exxon Valdez’ spill a year in the Niger Delta each and every year.
Nor is it enough to talk about the legacy of human rights abuses: the executions, the evictions and raids, the deliberate impoverishment of a people. In effect, the Ogoni have been forced to trade their food, their water, their land, their health and their basic human rights for a single gas generator.
It’s enough to talk about how the Ogoni live. For instance, how an Ogoni fisherman walks waist deep in a polluted river; Or how a single mother uses the light from nearby flare stacks to see around her her at night; or how children play in fields of oil waste like it’s any other day. They know they shouldn’t do it, but it’s been there all their lives. It’s a part of them.
Whatever needs to be said, it’s better to know that the Ogoni haven’t lost hope. They’ve been fighting for their land and rights since day one and they continue to do so.
Their struggle is not in vein. As Kenneth Mukoro describes in the following open letter, the Ogoni would like to return to their normal lives some day. They are using what little resources they have for just that.
50 YEARS OF SHELL EXPLOITATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION
By Kenneth Mukoro
The Ugheivwen Kingdom has been a recipient of various peaceful awards but nothing can be shown for 50 Years of Oil Exploration and our environment has been destroyed .
Shell company operating in the Ugheivwen Kingdom host to the Utorogu Gas plant and the Gas Plant Phase 2 and uncountable numbers of well head and flow stations is neglecting the people while destroying the land without any compensation. Shell has been operating in the kingdom for 50 years but nothing can be said of development or infrastructure.
I am sure that you will be surprised at the rate of development, the story of Ogoni Land is still fresh in our hearts but we embrace peace and dialogue. We want the international community to know that the Federal Government and the Shell Petroleum Development Company is neglecting the plight of the of Ugheivwen Kingdom, the only livelihood of the people which is fishing, hunting and farming is totally destroyed by the operations of Shell. The air is polluted by the constant gas flaring that has destroyed the ecological system of the forest and also in the community.
Our river banks are blocked by the wall protecting oil wells head directly opposite the River (Well 6 Otu-jeremi Utorogu area Delta state Nigeria), so we don’t have access to the river which is the means for surviving. And nothing is paid in compensation to the people of this kingdom which supplies gas to most part of west Africa for electricity. There is darkness in the villages while the Shell installation has Turbine Plants to generate electricity.
We will not relent to say the truth if the Shell company is not ready to help the Ugheivwen people according to Shell policy we will advise the SPDC to vacate the land so the People of the Kingdom can return to their normal lives.
We hope that the truth will be exposed so that the people of Ugheivwen will be given attention and the issue of the GMOU looked into. We advise Shell and the Federal Government to review the programme so that it will be of benefit to the 32 communities that makes up the Kingdom.
Please bring our plight to the notice of the international community. We want peace to remain as it used to be in the Kingdom. We want dialogue to settle the above matters.