This report is a follow up project to the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism oil probe to help the media and civil society demand accountability in the oil and gas sector as one way of ensuring good governance in Nigeria
He was expecting a report on the last oil spillage at Egbebiri and not happy that a contact has not called back to brief him on progress made on the cleanup. All that irritation would be shelved after he was informed of a fresh spillage in another area not far from the site of the penultimate. “There is always a spill happening every now and then, it is just about getting information in time about where exactly the place is,” Morris Alagoa said, as he dropped the call. He should know better, as the Project Officer Environmental Rights Action (ERA) in Bayelsa State.
It is a man-made fate, an environmental disaster that has befallen the Niger- Delta since the discovery of oil in 1956 at Oloibiri in Bayelsa, paradoxical of what has been an economic boom and mainstay of Nigeria since independence in 1960.
When people in urban cities are crying over scarcity of fuel, the region in a twist of fate has always had it around in unwanted places, albeit in its crude or loose forms. From areas like Rumuekpe to Eleme in Rivers, Brass to Ikarama in Bayelsa, Warri to Sapele in Delta, Qua Iboe in Akwa Ibom and other coastal towns where mine fields are situated in the region have all had their incessant tales of oil and gas spillage, either by corrosion or sabotage, many of which draw extreme sacrifices paid by residents.
The victims, though suppressed by the insensitivity of the Nigeria government to their plight still carry with them that endless narration of griefs and the painful marks serrated in their lives from the ordeals they faced as their country breathe out crude oil.
For instance, the family of Freeborn Roland at Ikarama in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa happily welcomed their male twins, Godday and Godpower March 2, 2013. That is just as jollier as it gets. The boys who have now become a sort of popular twins-at-ill, no thanks to the stench from the waterways opposite their home that infiltrated their respiratory systems after a major spill a month and two weeks after their birth. Freeborn was joyous at being a father of twins but pained by the company from whose pipe the spill came from. “I was so happy and very glad when I had my twins because it is the work of God but the bad side is about the Shell people, they have disciplined me in a fine way.”
The frail-looking boys have never been well for one day and Freeborn finds it hard to cope with the financial implication. “I am confused. I have been buying drugs for the twins from chemist shops and I do take them to the hospital sometimes. The ambassador of Netherland came to Ikarama and he visited us. He made a promise that they would not abandon the children with the situation of the environment then. They promised to help my family, but since then I haven’t seen anything.