By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Host Communities Network (HoCoN) with support from the Global Greengrants Fund (GGF) and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), said they are advocating and drawing up action plan for an effective environmental monitoring and reporting .
The group made the disclosure during its National General Assembly in Port -Harcourt, the Rivers State recently, stated the need to be deliberate on the state of the Nigerian environment challenges in communities.
This was contained in a communique’ jointly signed by President, HoCoN ,Prince Barbs Preye-Pawuru,Godwin King, Secretary General HOCON,Barr. Chima Williams,Maimoni Ubrei-Joe Mariere
Acting Executive Director, ERA/FoEN Desk Officer (HOCON) ERA/FoEN and Immediate Past President/National Patron.
The communique said the objective of the general assembly was to mobilize members of host communities to any kind of resource extraction for environmental justice campaigns and expose cases of environmental degradation that are either not reported or underreported.
The theme for the assembly was Connected Resistance, which was geared towards strengthening the Host Communities Network by engaging the traditional members as well as infusing new ones into the stable.
It also said that environmental degradation anywhere is environmental degradation everywhere.
“The Host communities bear the brunt of environmental degradation from resource extractions but are not recognized in decision making and resource benefits sharing.”.
“The few individuals who are supposed to represent the communities in the resource benefits sharing live in luxury while the vast majority wallow in abject poverty amidst plenty.
“All sources of water in oil producing communities in the Niger Delta are exposed to oil pollution, forcing fishing activities to drop and crops experience stunted growth. Reported cases of acid rain further pollute other sources of water and cause skin poisoning (rashes and burn),among others among locals”.
The groups at the meeting observed that the Land Use Act of 1978 continues to deprive members of host communities the enjoyment of the resources in their environment.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs) do not respond to incidences of oil pollutions early enough, and heap the blame of these incidences on host communities.
Others are:Despite the commencement of the Ogoni cleanup, all the emergency measures suggested by the UNEP in its Assessment Report have not been implemented.
There is no water in the communities and there are documented cases of cancer, low sperm count etc among natives.
Moreso, The utmost worry is the fact that excavated polluted soil from toxic sites in Ogoni has become additional source of pollution in most Ogoni communities especially during the rains.
“State governors are now the major agents of deforestation due to their quest for mechanization of agriculture and high way constructions that lead to land grabs and depriving communities of their original land and livelihood.
“Multinationals and Biotech Industries are trying hard to get our children addicted to harmful food products, creating health challenges for children and further contaminates our local food systems.Shell hides under a supposed divestment which includes going offshore, to shy away from addressing decades of environmental degradation.”
“This cause economic loss for the nation and continues to impoverish members of the host communities
It was therefore unanimously recommended that:
The group recommended that a comprehensive environmental audit of the State of Nigerian environment should be carried out by the Nigerian government with the help of HoCoN
Nigerian government pay the Ogoni nation an ecological debt for decades of pollution, neglect of their polluted environment, displacement of her people and denying them justice, while kicking against new oil well drilling.
Nigerian government immediately halt the drift to full blown tyranny occasioned by the growing cases of suppression of the rights of the people of Nigeria, and that all cases of extraction should accompany EIA Report.
Need for a Bill by States to revoke the licenses of IOCs that pollutes the environment without adequate compensation to communities.
Nigerian Government must align with the global trend of using the gas flare tracker for tracking gas flare volumes with the relevant agencies collecting accurate gas flare penalties that can help the economic revival of the nation and in tandem with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
The highpoint of the National General Assembly drawn participants from ten States across Nigeria which includes: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Imo, Kogi, Plateau and Rivers was the election of new National Executive Committee Members of the Network and these includes: Octogenarian Comr. Che Ibegwura (Rivers State) – National Patron; Prince Barbs Preye Pawuru (Edo State) – President; Chief Mrs. Ayibakoro Warder (Bayelsa) – Vice President; Hon. Godwin King (Akwa Ibom) – Secretary General; Shombot Nyam (Plateau State) – P.R.O; Jonah Gbemre (Delta State) – Financial Secretary and Dr. Kelechi Okezie (Ebonyi State) – Treasurer.