May 30, 2024

‘Environmental concerns in communities not taken into consideration in IOCs divestment’ – CEHRD

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Ilenre Irele

The Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, CEHRD, has sounded the alarm that environmental concerns by host communities were not taken into consideration nor discussed as part of the divestment deals by international oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region.

To redress this , CEHRD, an environment -focused group has reached out to the media for support to ensure environmental accountability in the ongoing divestment by IOCs from onshore to offshore fields.

Programme Lead, Pollution and Remediation at CEHRD Dr Tammy Cookey, said these at a Media parley in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital with the theme ‘Divestments and Environmental Accountability, The Role of the Media.’

Cookey said the research results from the oilfields across the Niger Delta indicated that the oil-bearing host communities were being left out of the divestment dialogue.

In his remarks the Environmental Governance Officer of CEHRD, Dr Meshack Uyi, explained that the framework being used for the divestment was hazy, and urged the media to champion the cause of making sure that the oil and gas companies complied with best practices before divesting.

“We want you people to help us champion the cause of the communities that you have been championing over the years and for the fact that we are actually looking at those who are voiceless today, we know that with you, their voices will be heard.

“We are hoping that with the interaction today, the issue of divestment will adequately be looked into and we are hoping that Bayelsa citizens will have respite in the shortest possible time.

“Divestment has laid down principles regarding the sale of assets but that of Petroleum Industry in Nigeria, there seems to be no clear-cut policy on that aspect. What is being used right now is a model not specifically suits to the oil and gas industry.

“And that is why as an NGO, we are calling on the movement to please take particular note of the peculiarity of the oil and gas industry and not treat their divestment as any other divestment,”.

A participant at the event, Mr. Nathan Nwakamma, said it was ironic that while the pressure for cleaner energy sources was going on at the global scene, IOCs in Nigeria were merely moving from land to sea and not much was heard of any investment into renewables and other cleaner energy sources.

He further observed that that the divestment exercise going on will throw up challenges of expertise of the successor Indigenous oil firms to manage the onshore assets being left by the IOCs.

“The perception that journalists are not doing enough is untrue and lacks basis because the challenges that journalists face are hydra headed species specially in the energy space where secrecy is the order of the day, you need to be at your wits end to squeeze information out from unwilling sources and interpreted same to the audience.

“Media practitioners often have capacity gaps to fill to be able to understand the energy sector and often resort to self-development to understand the dynamics of the complex sector, but nobody sees the obstacles we face and it is unfair to cast aspersions and say that the media is not doing enough,” Nwakamma said.

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