Activists draw from all works of live recently came together to celebrate an environmental icon Nimmon Bassey, during his 60th birthday ,in Abuja.
The Activists disclosed that there was a need to celebrate a man that care for the well being of the environment noting that this marks the beginning of an annually Nnimmo Colloquium.
Mrs .Bunmi Diop_Samuel of Lead Consultant/CEO PLEG Consulting & Resources who gave a citation about Nnimmo Bassey said he did a peaceful protest by the people of Umuechem community to demand that the Shell petrouleum Development Company do right by them by providing basic social services after 3 decades of oil exploitation which had ruined their livelihoods spiraled into a massacre which left about 80 opeople dead and a destruction of almost 550 houses in 1990, Nnimmo realised he could no longer keep quiet about the environmental injustice in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
“This incident, among many others which put the lives and livelihoods of community members in different parts of the country, especially in the Niger Delta region at that time fuelled his determination to ensure human and environmental rights of the people and the protection of the earth. “
Salami said in 1993, Nnimmo cofounded Environmental Rights Action (ERA), non-government organisations focused on environmental rights advocacy in 1993. Environmental Rights Action is also known as Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN), the national chapter of Friends and of the Earth International (FOEI), the world’s largest international advocacy group which works with grassroots environmental organisations in 7 countries of the Global South. ERA/FoEN focuses its campaign on the huge damage done to Nigerian communities and other countries in the region and the brazen destruction of the environment in the name of oil and gas exploration.
“Social justice advocacy in Nigeria during the military era in Nigeria came at a price. In Nnimmo’s case, his deep involvement in environmental rights activism and pro-democracy activities got the attention of agents of the infamous Abacha regime. ‘
She said that “His life and those of his wife and sons were in danger. His young family had to relocate to his home state of Akwa Ibom while he had to go into hiding somewhere in Ibadan for about four (4) months for his own safety.”
“In June, 1996, State Security Service (SSS) operatives kidnapped Nnimmo on his way to Accra to attend the World Environment Day,”.
He was also detained for 43 days. Although he was arrested and detained severally for speaking for the vulnerable, he refused to give in to their ploy to run him out of his country. He was smart enough to stay out of danger but stayed on regardless of the intimidation and threats. Not one of waste any moment regardless of the circumstance, Nnimmo invest6ed his time underground and in detention writing poetry.
Nnimmo has received national and international awards and honours. In 2009, he was named the TIME magazine Hero of the Environment. He was also awarded the Right Livelihood Award (also known and the Alternative Nobel Prize) an international award to “honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today”. The organisers found him worthy of the award in 2010 “…for revealing the full ecological and human horrors of oil production and for his inspired work to strengthen the environmental movement in Nigeria and globally.” He received the 2011 Global Appreciation award from the World heritage cultural Council (WHCC) in New York. That same year he was awarded the 2011 Ford Foundation Jubilee Transaprency Award for his Environment Righrs Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria organization achievements. Moreso,He also bagged the 2012 Rafto Prize for Human Rights “…in a world affected by complex and threatening climate change and mass environmental destruction.” The Rafto Foundation described him as an “untiring defender of victims of climate change.” The Nigerian government bestowed upon him a National Honour – Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) in September 2014 in appreciation of his dedication to the wellbeing of the people and the health of the nation.
Howere, this year’s Nnimmo Bassey Aunnal Colloquium (NBAC) to back his 60th birthday has the team : Environmental Conflicts and the Quest for National Identity ,the key note speaker was Dr.Hussaini Abudu, Country Director ,PLAN.at the event includes the representative of the Vice President Yemi Osinabajo ,Minister for Environment, Ibrahim Jubril among other dignitaries.