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“Ogoni Clean Up Exercise Is An Unending Drama” By Igbotako Nowinta

-Rev. David Ugolor

-As People’s AGM Calls On Federal Government To Carry Out Environmental Audit In The Niger Delta Region

THE Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Rev. David Ugolor, has described the much talked about Ogoni clean up exercise being carried out by the Federal Government of Nigeria as an unending drama.


The renowned environmental rights activist, and Convener of the Peoples AGM, made this call on Monday May 20th, 2024, at the TM Palace Hotel, in Warri, Delta State, Nigeria, in his welcome address, during the 3rd People’s Annual General Meeting (a Pan-Nigeria Civil Society platform campaigning for the enforcement of Paris Climate Agreement: an alternative to the AGMs of multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria)

Rev. David Ugolor said that in May 2022, ANEEJ convened the 1st Peoples AGM in Lagos, Nigeria, which brought together the people of Niger Delta region and environmental activists from different parts of Nigeria, comprising heads and leaders of NGOs, CBOs, faith-based organisations, representatives of Host oil and gas communities, human rights groups, students, youths, artisans, and media practitioners, to aggregate the people’s views and positions on a number of issues including Shell’s energy transition strategy.

According to Rev. Ugolor:
“The Ogoni clean-up effort remains at a slow pace and stakeholders are worried about the unending drama. We are aware that many remediation contracts have not been executed despite the fact that the contractors have collected 30% of the contract sum. This is unacceptable and we should speak out against it and ensure that they commence work immediately or refund the money they collected.”

He emphasised further thus: “It will interest you to know that a few days ago, the Peoples AGM expressed deep concern over the announcement by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), one of the largest shareholders in Shell that, it will vote for the re-election of all Shell directors at the 2024 AGM scheduled for May 21, 2024. Additionally, it will not join the 27 institutional investors which filed a resolution calling for Shell to align its climate targets with the Paris Agreement.”

Rev. Ugolor lamented: ” The decision shows the Fund is putting profit above responsibility to our climate and to oil-affected communities. Shell’s climate plan is as full of holes as its promises to Niger Delta communities. The Norwegian Oil Fund is failing to challenge Shell’s directors at the AGM, this undermines our faith in Norway’s officials. Their claim to achieve justice as the company departs the Niger Delta is so far turning out to be an empty word. Shell cannot destroy the entire livelihoods of the Niger Delta region and run away from cleaning up its mess, it is unacceptable!”

Meanwhile, the 3rd Peoples AGM which had in attendance 45 participants, drawn from the leadership of key civil society organizations from the Niger Delta including representatives of Women, youths’ groups and religious groups from host communities resolved as follows:

1).Urged shareholders to vote against the re-election of all the directors and reject Shell’s energy transition strategy at the 2024 AGM, because of its non-alignment with Paris Climate Agreement
2).That the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Environment should investigate the cleanup process and carry out environmental audit in all polluted sites across the Niger Delta region.
3).The government should also assess the performance by contractors handling the remediation sites and the contract of those found to have performed bellow expectation despite collecting 30% mobilisation fee, should be revoked and the monies paid to them should be recovered.
4).Resolved to launch a responsible divestment campaign and undertake a peaceful mass action to demand the proper assessment and clean-up of Ogoni land and the entire Niger Delta, as well as the restoration of the environment and the peoples livelihoods before divestment
5).Urged the Nigeria government to contribute its share of fund to the clean-up of Ogoni land and effectively coordinate the clean up process to ensure that the desired result is achieved.
6).To undertake independent audit of liabilities and expressed readiness to sustain the pressure on the regulator to stick to its own guidelines on divestment. This will achieve the prioritization of the interest of the people and their engagement.
Investors in oil and gas companies should follow the example set by the Church of England Pension Board and the Dutch healthcare pension fund PFZW who have withdrawn their investment from some oil companies for lack of credible climate strategy.
7).Urged the federal government of Nigeria to reject calls by a section of Ogoni people to resume oil exploration in Ogoni land without concluding the clean up process and due consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
8).The AGM re-stated its earlier call for the companies’ major investors to go to the Niger Delta for the fact-finding mission and resolved to undertake high-level advocacy to engage the investors and government currently supporting SHELL, Total Energies, Exxon Mobil and other oil companies in Nigeria. Agreed to sustain the engagement with the Norwegian Oil Fund and other investors in pursuance of justice for the Niger Delta People.
9).Called on the Nigerian government to reject the divestment plan and sale of its onshore facility by Shell and other multinational IOCs until community concerns are addressed and the company addresses the environmental challenges and livelihood loss it created in the Niger Delta.
10). Niger Delta communities and other stakeholders should organize themselves and engage the Nigerian government and oil companies to ensure a responsible divestment process that reflect the concerns of the people.
11).Urged the government to carry out a carrying capacity study to assess the absorptive capacity of Bonny LGA to host further expansion on NLNG with Trains 1-6 on ground and 7 under construction, SPDC Expert Terminal, Exxon Mobil Export Terminals, Belema Oil Facility, other beehives of high Technology Supporting Industry on ground. This is in view of the cumulative negative impact of the operation of these companies.
12).Government must properly fund the regulatory agencies to carry out its functions to avoid regulatory capture as it is immoral and conflict of interest for the regulated to fund the regulator, as he who pays the piper dictates the tune.
13). Urged the international community ahead of COP29 to increase funding to developing countries to address climate related issues.
14).To continue to undertake environmental justice advocacy and also explore the option of litigation to achieve justice for the people of Niger Delta

The above historic document was signed by the following participants:

David Ugolor
Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), and
Convener of the Peoples AGM Platform

Kentebe Ebiaridor
Oilwatch Nigeria

Inyingi Irimagha
Gender and Development Action (GADA)

Fr. Benedict Onwugbenu
Justice Development and Peace Centre, Benin

Akie Opuene Hart
Mangrove Forest Conservation Society of Nigeria (MFCSN)

Taritein Boco
Bayelsa NGOs Forum (BANGOF)

Promise Anagbara
Ogoni Indigenous Ministers’ Forum (OIMF)

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