Just last week, we reported on the resurfacing of Niger Delta freedom fighters stating the injustices their region grapple with and how they have been marginalised, not to mention the failure of the amnesty program.
It was an opportunity – and still is – for the present administration to reacquaint themselves with the deteriorating conditions of Niger Delta communities, ranging from lack of infrastructure, loss of livelihoods, or absence of social services, arising from crude oil exploitation largely caused by the activities of international oil companies.
This is well-documented.
At this point, the Niger Delta should be prioritised in the context of ecological reparations, which simply means fully giving land, financial and material compensations to indigenes after years of environmental toxicity and destruction.
But this can’t be actualised when the politicians still appear oblivious of what’s happening, or are only just finding out and would most likely do nothing. As in the case of Eti-Osa Federal Constituency, Lagos Representative, Ibrahim Babajide Obanikoro, who in a recent tweet went to the South south and saw for himself an incident of oil spillage committed by international oil companies.
While Obanikoro’s experience further legitimises the situation in the Niger Delta, his show of empathy will surely not improve the living conditions of the people who can no longer fish in creeks or rivers, or use lands.
Only a sincere policy drive from the government can make the difference. The oil spillage in the Niger Delta often occur during extraction and for those who reside in waterfront settlements, because of how cheap or accessible shelter are there, they are faced with this kind of environmental pollution.
Ecological reparations as a pillar of environmental justice means channeling resources to restore the integrity of rivers.
As it is, Niger Delta freedom fighters are agitating against the continued exclusion from benefitting from their region’s natural resource. And it’s time the government listened.