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Niger Delta – Amaechi Seeks Fifty Percent Derivation
Vanguard (Lagos)
23 October 2008
Posted to the web 23 October 2008

By Vanguard
GOVERNOR Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State has called for the increase of derivation to fifty percent.

Speaking in Abuja, yesterday, at an interactive forum with the technical committee on the Niger Delta set up by the Federal Government, Amaechi stated that if the issue of fiscal federalism could not be address, then derivation should be increased to 50 percent.

“If they can’t address the issue of fiscal federalism, then, they should increase derivation to fifty percent. And doing this does not require the amendment of our constitution… the law says not more than thirteen percent, so that means that derivation can be increased to whatever percentage. Our laws are very clear on this. So we don’t need any constitution amendment to achieve this,” Amaechi stated.

Governor Amaechi said that the Niger Delta has been neglected over the years by successive regimes. He specifically fingered the immediate past administration of Obasanjo for its failure to do much for the region.

He said, “all through the eight years of Obasanjo, no major infrastructure was done in Rivers State by the Obasanjo government. You can’t find any. I don’t know about other states but in Rivers State, he did nothing.

“The Federal Government needs to embark on a massive infrastructural development in the Niger Delta. The region has been neglected for too long. We don’t have schools, no hospitals… Government should be able to provide cheap and accessible education, if it can’t be free.

As a matter of necessity and urgency, government must do this and also provide good quality healthcare.”

Responding to a question from Mr. Sam Amuka, a member of the committee, the Rivers State Governor maintained his stance that most of what was going on in the region today as militancy, was actually criminality.

“Criminals have hijacked the struggle. Most of what is going on in the Niger Delta today is outright criminality not militancy. In my State, I have criminals saying they are militants. One of them (names withheld) told former President Obasanjo before me and Ex governor Odili that he has killed over 2,000 Rivers men and women. I can’t sit down and negotiate with that kind of person.

He is a criminal. My little knowledge of militancy tells me that it is ideological in nature but these people have no ideology. The way out is the enforcement of the law and the federal government has to enforce the law.”

“There must be a new value re-orientation for these criminals to change… and the first step is to enforce the law so that the criminals know that there is punishment for crime. No matter what is done between now and probably the next five years, we cannot recover what we have lost because of the activities of these criminals. We are losing rapidly. The oil economy has moved out of the Niger Delta…”

As Amaechi spoke, not a few members of the committee nodded their heads in agreement. Secretary to the Committee, commended Amaechi for his ‘strength of conviction’ and frank comments.


Yet, the Niger Delta question
• Thursday, Oct 23, 2008The Niger Delta question dates back to the nationalist struggle that preceded the second world war of 1939 – 1945. And from that time till today, the agitation by the people of the Niger Delta has been growing by the numbers.

The geographical terrain of the people of various ethnic groups that constitute the core Niger Delta and their quest for infrastructural development gave rise to agitation that culminates in the famous Will-Iinks Commission of 1958. Lord Boyles presided over this commission in London and it approved appropriate developmental agenda for the core Niger Delta. It was a fallout of this Commissions approval that the Niger Delta Development Board was established by Royal Fiat.

By 1953 Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) undertook some survey across the Niger Delta and the resultant effect gave rise to the exploration of crude oil. 1958, the first crude oil shipload was exported abroad from Oloibiri of present Bayelsa State.

Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro then a final year industrial chemistry student and a student leader at University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) and later National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) leader grew up to see the exploration and exploitation of crude oil, coupled with criminal neglect of his people and became consumed with passion and took his youthful energy to stage the infamous 12 days revolution in the Niger Delta in 1965 and the rest is now history.

Between 1970 and 1995, there were several intellectual approaches to the Niger Delta struggle where eminent statesmen like Chiefs Dappa Biriye, Okilo, Fiberesima, Amachree, Obi Wali and others were involved. The resultant effects of such brainstorming were not far fetched. Ken Saro Wiwa was an apostle of non-violence but was killed in cold blood in the midst of the struggle and that made the comity of nations to make Nigeria a pariah state.

Today, with the means of information technology and the whole world becoming a global village, the youths of the Niger Delta can view events from the other land such as Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan via the satellite on a daily basis and what they so viewed had shaped their psyche. Oil bunkering has become a very lucrative trade in the Niger Delta and in the process guns are procured for this business. This business that started with just a few hands has now grown to a large army and a threat to national security.

Asari Dokubo came into the struggle and laid claim to the resurrected Boro. He undertook series of running battles and later made peace. Even when he appears to embrace peace, the other youths have vowed to stay in the mangrove swamps and creeks to actualize the struggle. This terrain is dangerous and it is not easily navigable. Some observers say that the creeks of Niger Delta are more dangerous than the Vietnam jungle may be.

Because of the constant cry of infrastructural development, resource control and others, successive governments over the years have put a number of committees in place to actualize the wishes and aspirations of the Niger Deltans. The Justice Belgore Committee of 1992 offered a very excellent report. Also 1994 Chief Don Etiebet produced another report, which it submitted to government. And lastly in 1999, the famous Popoola Committee worked assiduously and submitted its report to government as well.

The distillation of these various reports is anchored on how to achieve sustainable development, economic prosperity and political peace in the Niger Delta. After these major committee reports, other small seminars and summits have equally proferred suggestions on how best to develop the Niger Delta but the political will to execute the plan is lacking.

During the Obasanjo era, a national conference was held with a view to proffering solutions to some pressing matters. The issue of the Niger Delta brought this conference to a fiasco. It is in the light of the above that those calling for summit are only out to begging for more time for their hidden agenda.

There have been so many reports on the Niger Delta but what is lacking is the political will and some level of sincerity. Not too long ago, a Niger Delta master plan was drawn up by the NDDC and it was expected that the much-needed solution has been found. One is therefore surprised that people are still talking about summit. This is because the Niger Deltans are tired of rthetorics and now want to see action of massive infrastructural development and participation in the down stream sector of the petroleum segment.

During the General Abacha two million man march, youths from the poor villages of the Niger Delta were transported to Abuja where they saw how the black gold from their soil has transformed Abuja- a virgin land in the Savannah, into an Eldorado.

They reasoned that policy makers are engaging in a constructive hide and seek game, and questioned how many conferences and summits were held before the massive infrastructural developments in Abuja were put in place.

The years are rolling by again and we are still talking about what that people of Niger Delta want? Such statements are nothing short of challenging the sensibilities of the Niger Deltans. It amounts to criminal neglect, rape and shame to treat those who provide the nation’s wealth with neglect and disdain. The neglect has both physiological, and economic implications which has now turned the Niger Delta into a breeding ground for militants and terrorist activities, second only to Iraq.

The NDDC was put in place as an intervening agency with its hand tied to its back because of neglect and lack of funds. It is most surprising that a total of over N285 billion is owed this agency by government over the last three years. In the light of this gross abnormality, how can we talk about development for the Niger Delta?

Pan-Igbo Group Warns Against Ethnicising Niger Delta Problem
Leadership (Abuja)
23 October 2008
Posted to the web 23 October 2008
A Pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ozurigbo has condemned what it called a sustained attempt to reduce the Niger Delta issue to ethnic affair, saying the monumental development challenges in the region reflects a national tragedy, and should be of national concern.

President of the group, Dr. Batos Nwadike, who spoke weekend in Abuja, said continued neglect of the oil rich region which is the main source of Nigeria ‘s revenue by successive administrations was callous and opposed to the aspirations of the citizenry.

He said; “Ozurigbo takes exception to the near total Ijawnisation of the issue,” he said at the sixth Ozurigbo lecture series.

Noting that the Niger Delta question has remained a sore point in Nigeria’s political discourse, the issues at stake are neither Ijaw nor about Ijawland. “The issue is oil. We must try to give back to a blessed land for its benevolence to us,” Nwadike said, even as he hailed the proposed creation of a Niger Delta Ministry by President Umar Musa Yar’Adua.

Nwadike, while calling on Nigerians to exercise patience with the Federal Government in its efforts at solving the problems of the region, however, condemned the very slow pace of the present administration in approaching issues of national importance.

He also described as disappointing and untoward the raging controversy concerning the continued relevance of Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), and faulted, the calls for the organisation to dismantle its structures and fold up.

“We in Ozurigbo do not think that MASSOB should fold up its structures, rather, we suggest that MASSOB should as a matter of strategy rename the body to reflect the realities of the present times,” he said.

He regretted the disunity among the Igbo race, which constitutes a barrier for them to speak with one voice and make collective decisions that would positively impact their existence in the Nigerian federation, and decried the rate at which people who should be speaking for the Igbo derail, compromise or out-rightly sell themselves out.

Presenting a lecture on the crisis of political succession in Nigeria, a member of the defunct Constituent Assembly, Dr. Ukeje Nwokeforo, decried the seeming unpreparedness of the South East zone leaders and people, whom he said are the least prepared in the struggle to occupy their rightful place in the Nigerian polity, calling them to emulate the Yoruba and the political North.

According to him, “The North knows itself, and they know where they are going, and are sure of what they are standing upon. So also is it with the Yorubas of South West. But it is not so with Ndigbo,” Nwokeforo said.

Cleric sues for peace in Niger Delta
• Thursday, Oct 23, 2008Militants in Niger Delta have been urged to sheath their swords and allow President Umaru Yar’Adua to fully implement his development agenda for the region.

The Methodist Bishop of Aba , Rev. Christian Ede, made the call in an interview with our correspondent in Aba , while speaking on the crisis in the region and Federal Government’s initiatives.

Ede said that the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta demonstrated Yar’ Adua’s priority attention to the region and his genuine intentions to bring succour to the people.

“The president has shown that he meant well for the region and I feel that the seven-point agenda, if fully implemented, will bring rapid development to the area,” the clergyman said.

“I, therefore, appeal to militants in the region to down their arms and give the Federal Government the opportunity to implement its action plan for the area,” he said.

He urged the president not to be dampened by the staggering resources required to effectively address the enormous problems of the region, saying that any amount spent on the region was justifiable.

He described the region as the goose that lays the golden egg, arguing that the oil reserve in the place could sustain the country for many more decades if the crisis was effectively arrested.

Ede further described the condition of life and the state of the environment in the region as “pathetic and pitiable”, pointing out that people of the region were living in abject poverty.

On Nigeria at 48, the cleric said that “the country is not stagnant”.

“We are moving forward and democracy has taken root and people are no longer afraid of a possible military intervention,” said the Methodist cleric.

He, however, advised Yar’Adua to adjust his style of administration, describing his pace as “too slow”, considering the enormity of the socio-economic crisis confronting the nation.

“I urge the president to change his gear.

“We cannot be too careful as not to make any progress.

“Even if we make mistakes, we should learn some lessons from such mistakes and still forge ahead,” he said.


NEWS Environmental Rights Action and The Climate Justice Programme have released a report on gas flaring in the Niger Delta and are suing oil companies and the Nigerian government for decades of damage.

Friends of the Earth & the CORE Coalition published the following briefing on gas flaring in the Niger Delta. You can download the full briefing here. (PDF 80kb)

Nigeria’s oil wealth has been exploited for more than 45 years. But while oil companies including Shell, ExxonMobil and TotalFinaElf, have profited from the resource, local communities live with the daily pollution caused by non-stop gas flaring – where the gas associated with oil extraction is burnt off into the atmosphere.

More gas is flared in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world – in western Europe 99 per cent of associated gas is used or re-injected into the ground. But in Nigeria, despite regulations introduced more than 20 years ago to outlaw the practice, most associated gas is flared, causing local pollution and contributing to climate change.

Oil production began in the Niger Delta about 45 years ago and so did the practice of flaring associated gas. The waste involved in the practice, and the expected controversy, was recognised early on.

There is confusion over how much oil and associated gas is produced in Nigeria. The most recent and independent information source suggests that over 3.5 billion standard cubic feet (scf) of associated gas was produced in 2000, of which more than 70 per cent was burnt off, ie flared. As oil production has increased, Nigeria has become the world’s biggest gas flarer, both proportionally and absolutely, with around 2 billion scf, perhaps 2.5 billion scf, a day being flared. This is equal to about 25 per cent of the UK’s gas consumption.The single biggest flarer is the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC).

A recent report estimates flaring to represent an annual economic loss to the country of about US $2.5 billion.

The Environmental Impacts
According to the World Bank, by 2002 flaring in the country had contributed more greenhouse gases to the Earth’s atmosphere than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa combined – and yet this gas is not being used as a fuel. Nobody benefits from the energy it contains. As such, it is a serious but unnecessary contributor to climate change, the impacts of which are already being felt in the region with food insecurity, increasing risk of disease and the rising costs of extreme weather damage. Local communities living around the gas flares – and many are close to villages and agricultural land – rely on wood for fuel and candles for light.

The flares also contain widely-recognised toxins, such as benzene, which pollute the air. Local people complain of respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis. According to the US government, the flares contribute to acid rain and villagers complain of the rain corroding their buildings. The particles from the flares fill the air, covering everything with a fine layer of soot.

Local people also complain about the roaring noise and the intense heat from the flares. They live and work alongside the flares with no protection.

General flaring was made illegal under regulations in 1984, and only allowed in specific circumstances on a field-by-field basis pursuant to a ministerial certificate. None of these certificates have been made public. President Obasanjo has agreed to put back the 2004 flares-out” deadline to 2008.

What needs to be done?
The flaring needs to end. This need is widely recognised and various commitments have been made to phase out the practice. However, several reasons have been put forward for continuing to flare, including economic, commercial and technological. A number of projects appear to be in place to use associated gas, including some from Shell. The “anchor” of Shell’s flare-out plans is the Bonny LNG plant, but this has used much less associated gas than promised. Shell has admitted having trouble in meeting the 2008 deadline.

The Royal Dutch Shell Group’s over-statement of its reserves is also a part of the picture. Nigerian reserves made up the largest single contribution to the Group’s recent reserves “recategorisation”, and Shell’s concealment strategy to avoid disclosing the over-estimates to the Nigerian Government was based on increasing production, and so increasing flaring.

Friends of the Earth believes that gas flaring should end immediately – it violates the human rights of those living nearby. 2008 is much too late. Companies currently flaring gas in Nigeria should disclose the ministerial certificates which demonstrate they are entitled under the regulations to continue flaring.

Friends of the Earth is also campaigning as part of the CORE Coalition for changes to UK company law so that financial obligations on UK companies are counterbalanced by social and environmental concerns.

CORE believes the Government must introduce new legislation introducing:

• Mandatory reporting – requiring all UK companies to report annually on the impact of their operations, policies, products and procurement practices on people and the environment both in the UK and abroad;

• New legal duties on directors – to take reasonable steps to reduce any significant negative social or environmental impacts;

• Foreign direct liability – to enable affected communities abroad to seek redress in the UK for
human rights and environmental abuses resulting directly from the operations, policies, products
and procurement practices of UK companies or their overseas subsidiaries.

These measures would require UK oil companies operating in Nigeria to report on the significant negative impacts of their business operations and would provide local communities affected by oil companies’ flaring operations with a statutory right to seek redress by bringing a case in the UK courts.

For information see:

CORE Coalition

Friends of the Earth Climate Campaign

Download this briefing. (PDF 80kb)


(c) Sophia Evans 2002. Children from the village of Akalu-Olu. The Italian oil compamy Agip is operating in the community. The oil facility is directly located in the village. Agip started oil production there in 1973. Villagers say there are no more bush, animals or fish left. Villagers also say there is blood in their urine. The extreme heat and noise are irritating. Their zinc roofs corrode within 3 months. There is malaria throughout the year. Gas flares are the only light villagers get to see with at night, as there is no electricity. There is also no running water. Akalu-Olu, in the Ahoada West local government area of Rivers State, Niger Delta, Nigeria, 11/11/2002.

(c) Peter Roderick 2004. Shell gas flare at Rumuekpe, Rivers State, Niger Delta, Nigeria.

(c) Friends of the Earth International. Shell gas flare at Rumuekpe showing kids sitting in close proximity to the flare, which is easily accessible to anyone in the village. Rumuekpe, Rivers State, Niger Delta, Nigeria.

(c) Friends of the Earth International. Shell gas flare at Rumuekpe, which sits just next to the village and is surrounded by agricultural land. Rumuekpe, Niger Delta, Nigeria.

(c) Peter Roderick March 2004. Local children at night with water containers at the Shell gas flares in Umuebulu community in Obigbo oil field, Etche Local Government area near Port Harcourt. Niger Delta, Nigeria.

(c) Friends of the Earth International. Woman tending her crop near Shell gas flare, Rumuekpe, Rivers State, Niger Delta, Nigeria.

Gas flaring kills Ogonis. Protest sign at Ogoni Day demonstration 1993


Dr. P.C. Nwilo & O. T. Badejo
Department of Surveying and Geoinformatics
Faculty of Engineering
University of Lagos, Akoka – Lagos, Nigeria

Nigerian Coastal Areas Nigeria has a coastline of approximately 853km facing the Atlantic Ocean. This coastline lies between latitude 4o 10’ to 6o 20’N and longitude 2o 45’ to 8o 35’ E. The Nigerian coastal area is low lying with heights of not more than 3.0 m above sea level and is generally covered by fresh water swamp, mangrove swamp, lagoonal mashes, tidal channels, beach ridges and sand bars (Dublin- Green et al, 1997).

The Nigerian coast is composed of four distinct geomorphological units namely; the Barrier-Lagoon complex; the Mud coast; the Arcuate Niger delta; and the Strand coast (lbe, 1988). The vegetation of the Nigerian coastal area is also characterised by mangrove forests, brackish swamp forests and rain forests.

The coastal zone is richly endowed with a variety of minerals. The most important of these are oil and gas. Since the first shipment of crude oil in 1958, there has been an upsurge in oil exploration activities in Nigeria. These have led to the discovery of numerous oil fields and subsequently to the development of various oil terminals (Ozobia, 1998). The Nigerian coastal zone is richly endowed with oil and gas. Nigerian crude oil reserve is over 25 billion barrels, while the crude oil production per day is estimated at 2.2million barrels. Oil production activities are increasing. The Nigerian Government is aiming at increasing the reserve capability from 25 billion barrels to 30 billion barrels in 2003. By 2003, daily crude oil production is expected to hit 3.0millon barrels.

Review of Oil Spill Incidents in Nigeria

Oil spillage is categorized into four groups: minor, medium, major and disaster. Minor spill takes place when the oil discharge is less than 25 barrels in inland waters or less than 250 barrels on land, offshore or coastal waters that does not pose a threat to the public health or welfare. In the case of the medium, the spill must be 250 barrels or less in the inland water or 250 to 2,500 barrels on land, offshore and coastal water while for the major spill, the discharge to the inland waters is in excess of 250 barrels on land, offshore or coastal waters. The disaster refers to any uncontrolled well blowout, pipeline rupture or storage tank failure which poses an imminent threat to the public health or welfare (Ntukekpo, 1996).

Oil spillage in Nigeria occurs as a result of sabotage, corrosion of pipes and storage tanks, carelessness during oil production operations and oil tankers accidents. In Nigeria, fifty percent (50%) of oil spills is due to corrosion, twenty eight percent (28%) to sabotage and twenty one percent (21%) to oil production operations. One percent (1%) of oil spills is due to engineering drills, inability to effectively control oil wells, failure of machines, and inadequate care in loading and unloading oil vessels.

Most of the oil pipes and tanks in the country are very old and lack regular inspection and maintenance. Thousands of barrels of oil have poured into the environment through some of the corroded pipes and tanks. A recent major occurrence was that at Idoho, an offshore platform in south-eastern Nigeria, where about 40,000 barrels of oil spilled into the environment. Sabotage is another major cause of oil spillage in the country. Some of the inhabitants of the oil rich Niger Delta engage in oil bunkering and from time to time damage and destroy oil pipelines in their efforts to collect oil from them.

Oil spill incidents have occurred in various parts and at different times along our coast. Between 1976 and 1998 a total of 5724 incidents resulted in the spill of approximately 2,571,113.90 barrels of oil into the environment. Some major spills in the coastal zone are the GOCON’s Escravos spill in 1978 of about 300,000 barrels, Shell Petroleum Development Corporation’s (SPDC’s) Forcados Terminal tank failure in 1978 of about 580,000 barrels, Texaco Funiwa-5 blow out in 1980 of about 400,000 barrels, and the Abudu pipe line spill in 1982 of about 18,818 barrels (NDES, 1997). Other major oil spill incidents are the Jesse fire incident which claimed about a thousand lives and the Idoho Oil spill in January 1998, in which about 40,000 barrels were spilled into the environment (Nwilo et al, 2000). The most publicised of all oil spills in Nigeria occurred on January 17 1980 when a total of 37.0 million litres of crude oil got spilled into the environment. This spill occurred as a result of a blow out at Funiwa 5 offshore station. The heaviest recorded yearly spill so far occurred in 1979 and 1980 with a net volume of 694,117.13 barrels and 600,511.02 barrels respectively.

Table 1.0 below shows data on oil spill incidents in the country between 1976 and 1998. Figure 1.0 also shows the graph of the number of oil spill incidents per year in the country. The graph clearly indicates that the lowest oil spill incidents occurred in 1977, while the highest number of oil spill incidents happened in 1994. Figure 1.1 also shows the graph of quantity of oil spilled per year in the country. The lowest quantity of oil was spilled in 1989, while the highest quantity was spilled in 1979.

Table 1.0: Oil Spill Data



Number of Spill Incidents

Quantity spilled (barrels)

1 1976



2 1977



3 1978



4 1979



5 1980



6 1981



7 1982



8 1983



9 1984



10 1985



11 1986



12 1987



13 1988



14 1989



15 1990



16 1991



17 1992



18 1993



19 1994



20 1995



21 1996



22 1997



23 1998






Source: The Department of Petroleum Resources

Click image to enlarge


Major oil spills heavily contaminate marine shorelines, causing severe localised ecological damage to the near-shore community. The harmful effects of oil spill on the environment are many. Oil destroys plants and animals in the estuarine zone. It settles on beaches and kills organisms and marine animals like fishes, crabs and other crustaceans. Oil endangers fish hatcheries in coastal waters and as well contaminates the flesh of commercially valuable fish. Oil poisons algae, disrupts major food chains and decreases the yield of edible crustaceans. It also coats birds, impairing their flight or reducing the insulative property of their feathers, thus making the birds more vulnerable to cold.

Oil on water surface also interferes with gaseous interchange at the sea surface and dissolved oxygen levels will thereby be lowered. This will in no doubt reduce the life span of marine animals. Micro-organisms also degrade petroleum hydrocarbons after spillage (Atlas, 1981; Leahy and Colwell, 1990; Atlas and Bartha, 1992)

In a bid to clean oil spills by the use of oil dispersants, serious toxic effects will be exerted on plankton thereby poisoning marine animals. This can further lead to food poisoning and loss of lives. Another effect of oil slicks is loss of economic resources to the government. When spilled, oil is not quickly recovered, it will be dispersed by the combined action of tides, wind and current. The oil will therefore spread into thin films, dissolve in water and undergo photochemical oxidation, which will lead to its decomposition.

On the Nigerian Coastal environment, large areas of the mangrove ecosystem have been destroyed. Oil spill has also destroyed farmlands, polluted ground and drinkable water and caused drawbacks in fishing off the coastal waters. There has been continuous regional crises in the Niger Delta area as a result of oil spill pollution of the coastal ecosystem. The oil producing states are now calling for control of oil resources in their respective states.

The Idoho oil spill of 1998 polluted coastal waters from Akwa Ibom State in the east to Lagos State in the west. Mobil Producing Unlimited commissioned a verification exercise to determine the extent and impacts of this oil spill. During the verification exercise, it was observed that the spill destroyed fishing nets, boats, and fishing ponds.

Ogoni and Oil

The Ogonis, whose population of 500,000, once made a living from farming and fishing. For over 30years Shell and Chevron financed drilling on Ogoni land. This has increasingly pushed the population into the forests and mangrove swamps. Those who remain in the townships and villages are subjected to displacement and expropriation of their properties. The Ogoni have received virtually none of the $30 billion from oil pumped out of their lands, and they have been actively demonstrating against such injustices.

The movement for the survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and other Ogoni activists have on several occasions called on the Nigerian Federal Government to regulate the oil exploration, drilling, and processing activities of Shell Oil and other oil companies in the oil producing regions of Nigeria. Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa, along with eight other MOSOP members, were arrested and charged with the murder of four traditional chiefs belonging to a pro-government group in the Ogoni region. The murders occurred during a bloody clash in May 1994 between Ogoni activists and Federal Government soldiers. On October 31, 1995, a Federal military tribunal sentenced them to death. On November 10, 1995 the Nigerian Federal Government hanged Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others, in Port Harcourt. Ken Saro-Wiwa’s final words before he was hanged were “Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues.” (TED Case Studies, 1997).

Reactions by the international community after the Federal Government hanged Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others were swift and included:

  1. Protest marches at Nigerian Embassies and Shell offices all over the world;

  2. Suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth of Britain (a group comprising of Britain and its former colonies);

  3. The withdrawal of ambassadors by several countries;

  4. Calls for a multilateral oil embargo and other sanctions by world leaders;

  5. Plans for a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning the executions.

  6. Protest actions by human rights groups such as amnesty international and environmental groups such as Green Peace;

  7. Calls by the European Union to impose economic sanctions;

  8. Imposition of a ban on arms sales to Nigeria by a number of countries;

  9. Protests in Nigeria by thousands of students and other individuals;

  10. Under extreme pressure, the International Finance Corporation cancelled a proposed $100million loan and $80 million equity deal to Nigeria LNG, a company owned by the Nigerian Government and the top oil producers in Nigeria (Shell, Elf and Agip), to produce a gas plant and pipeline in the Niger Delta (TED Case Studies, 1997).


A number of laws already exist in the Nigerian oil industry. Most of these laws provide the framework for oil exploration and exploitation. However, only some of these laws provide guidelines on the issues of pollution (Salu, 1999). According to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, Lagos Nigeria, the following relevant national laws and international agreements are in effect namely:

  1. Endangered Species Decree Cap 108 LFN 1990.

  2. Federal Environmental protection Agency Act Cap 131 LFN 1990.

  3. Harmful Waste Cap 165 LFN 1990.

  4. Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations, 1969.

  5. Mineral Oil (Safety) Regulations, 1963.

  6. International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 1971

  7. Convention on the Prevention of Marine pollution Damage, 1972

  8. African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources,1968

  9. International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for the Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 1971.

References to Caps, volumes and pages are as in the laws of the Federation of Nigeria. Some of the acts and regulations on pollution given by (Oshineye, 2000) are given below:

  1. The Mineral Oil (Safety) Regulations 1963, that deals with safe discharge of noxious or inflammable gases and provide penalties for contravention and non-compliance.

  2. Petroleum Regulations 1967 that prohibit discharge or escape of petroleum into waters within harbour area and make provisions for precautions in the conveyance of petroleum and rules for safe operation of pipelines.

  3. Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulation 1969 that requires licence holders to take all practical precautions, including the provision of up-to-date equipment approved by the appropriate authority to prevent pollution of inland waters, river water courses, the territorial waters of Nigeria or the high seas by oil or other fluids or substances.

  4. Oil in Navigable Waters Act 1968 that prohibits discharge of oil or any mixture containing oil into the territorial or navigable inland waters.

  5. Oil Terminal Dues Act 1969 that prohibits oil discharge to area of the continental shelf within which any oil terminal is situated.

  6. Petroleum Refining Regulations 1974, which deals, among other things, with construction requirements for oil storage tanks to minimise damage from leakage.

  7. Associated Gas Re-Injection Act 1979 that provides for the utilisation of gas produced in association with oil and for the re-injection of such associated gas not utilised in an industrial project. This is to discourage gas flaring. The Government has raised the penalty for gas flaring and this increase was due to the government’s determination to protect the environment and ensure the optimal and functional use of Nigeria’s gas resources.

  8. Oil Pipeline Act 1956 (as amended by Oil pipelines Act 1965) which prevents the pollution of land or any waters.

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA), which was recently made part of the Ministry of the Environment is legally vested with the responsibility of protecting and sustaining the Nigerian environment through formulation and implementation of regulatory frameworks. The National Policy on the Environment (1989) comprises one of the instruments developed by the agency to carry out its tasks. The document describes guidelines and strategies for achieving the policy goal of sustainable development (Ntukekpo, 1996).

Due to increasing awareness in preventing and controlling spills in Nigeria, the Clean Nigeria Associates (C.N.A.) was formed in November 1981. The C.N.A. is a consortium of eleven oil companies operating in Nigeria, including N.N.P.C. The primary purpose of establishing the C.N.A is to maintain a capability to combat spills of liquid hydrocarbons or pollutants in general. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) decree No 86 of 1992 was promulgated to protect and sustain our ecosystem. The law makes EIA compulsory for any major project that may have adverse effects on the environment (Ntukekpo, 1996; Olagoke, 1996). The Decree was to control activities that have environmental impact on the host communities, facilitates the promotion and implementation of policy, encourage information exchange. It sought to assess the likely or potential environmental impacts of proposed activities, including their direct or indirect, cumulative, short term and long term effects, and to identify the measures available to mitigate adverse environmental impacts of proposed activities, and assessment of those measures. The guidelines made provisions for offshore operations, safety measures, liability and compensation (Ozekhome, 2001).

Effective response to a marine oil spill requires knowledge of the sensitivity of the coastal zones. This will enable the determination of priorities for protecting the most sensitive areas. In order to assist the decision-makers in choosing the areas of priority, coastal sensitivity maps of Nigeria including areas of ecological and socio-economic interest must be produced.

As part of an environmental baseline studies project for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), sixty coastal and two hundred riverine/estuarine stations were studied in 1984 and 1985. Data gathered at these stations were used in describing regional and site-specific shoreline types. The outer coastline of Nigeria was divided into five broad categories, and within these categories, the shoreline has been divided into Environmental Sensitive Index (ESI) shoreline types. In addition, an ESI scale was developed and applied for the tidally influenced Bonny/New Calabar mouth and estuary.

ESRI Professional Services has been contracted to develop a widely useful set of standards and protocols foe generating Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps for coastal and inland interior areas of the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria. These protocols permit the efficient, consistent development of reliable ESI maps, concepts and procedures. These protocols can be used in many other parts of the world as well.

Development of the protocols was funded by the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS), whose member companies explore for, and produce oil within and offshore of, the Niger Delta. Nigerian regulatory requirements specify ESI mapping as part of contingency planning for oil exploration and production activities to better protect the delta’s natural resources. Working with ESRI is co-contractor Environmental Resource Management Limited (ERML) of Nigeria.

A successful combat operation to a marine oil spill is dependent on a rapid response from the time the oil spill is reported until it has been fully combated. In order to reduce the response time and improve the decision making process, application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as an operational tool is suggested. Information on the exact position and size of the oil spill can be plotted on maps in GIS environment and a priority of the combat efforts and means according to the identified coastal sensitive areas can be carried out. GIS offers opportunities for integration of oil drift forecast models (prediction of wind and current influence on the oil spill) in the computer program framework (Milaka, 1995).

Required information for oil spill sensitivity mapping can be depicted on a set of thematic maps using GIS even though they can in theory be depicted onto a single sheet. With the use of a GIS, however, all the relevant information or themes can be stored in the system and produced onto maps in a format that befits the needs of the day. Alternatively, modelling exercises using the GIS can be conducted to assess the adequacy of any given oil spill contingency plan (Parthiphan, 1994).

The creation of regional spill response centres along Nigerian coastlines will help in managing oil spill problems (Smith and Loza, 1994). The centres will use oil spill models for combating oil spill problems. Using data collected with an airborne system to input one or several new starting point(s) into the model, will improve the accuracy of the further predictions (Sandberg, 1996). Oil spillage can also be treated or removed by natural means, mechanical systems, absorbents, burning, gelling, sinking and dispersion. Oil spillage can be removed by natural means through the process of evaporation, photochemical oxidation and dispersions (Smith 1977). Bioremediation can also be used for managing oil spill problems (Hoff, 1993; Prince, 1993).

An effective response to a marine oil spill requires knowledge of the sensitivity of the coastal zones. This will assist in determining priorities in event of an oil spill. In order to assist the decision-makers in choosing the areas of priority, coastal sensitivity index maps of Nigeria including areas of ecological and socio-economic interest must be produced at large and medium scales.


There is a need for a better understanding of the coastal ecology so as to evaluate the significance of the impacts generated by oil spill incidents. A thorough environmental impact assessment should be done prior to oil exploration and exploitation in oil rich regions. More funds should be provided by oil multinationals for environmental research, environmental protection and for provision of amenities and infrastructure in oil producing communities.

There is a need to acquire real time or predicted meteorological data and medium scale digital maps of the coastal areas. Establishment of regional spill response centres along the coastline, and the use of data collected with an airborne system will help in managing oil spill problems in Nigeria.

The petroleum industry should work closely with government agencies, universities and research centres to reduce the frequency and impact of oil spills. When a spill occurs, various government agencies and industries must start to immediately to clean the spilled oil and efforts made to minimise its impact on the environment.

Oil spills have occurred several times along the Nigerian coast as a result of upsurge in oil exploration and exploitation activities. The causes of oil spillage along our coast are corrosion of oil pipes and storage tanks, sabotage and carelessness during oil production operations. The impacts of spillage on the Nigerian coastal areas are enormous. Lives have been lost, coastal habitats and ecology destroyed. These have led to calls for resource control by oil producing states in the country.

The GIS could be used to identify responders and provide information about the closest resources of oil spill response equipment and personnel. Planners to review could also use it where spill-fighting resources are deployed. The petroleum industry should work closely with government agencies, universities and research centers to reduce the frequency and impact of oil spills.


Atlas, R.M., 1981: Microbial Degradation of Petroleum Hydrocarbons; An Environmental Perspective. Microbial Rev. 45, 180-209.

Atlas, R.M. and Bartha R., 1992: Hydrocarbon Biodegradation and Oil Spill Bioremediation. Adv. Microbial Ecol. 12, 287-338.

Dublin-Green C.O., Awobamise A. and Ajao E.A., 1997: Large Marine Ecosystem Project For the Gulf Of Guinea (Coastal Profile Of Nigeria), Nigeria Institute of Oceanography
Encyclopaedia Americana, 1994: International Edition, Grolier Incorporated.

Hoff, R., 1993: Bioremediation: An Overview of its Development and use for Oil Spill Clean up. Mar. POLLUT. Bull. 26, 476-481.

Ibe, A.C., 1988: Coastline Erosion in Nigeria. Ibadan University Press. Ibadan.

Leahy, J.G., Colwell R.R.., 1990: Microbial Degradation of Hyrocarbons in the Environment. Microbio. Rev. 54(3), 305-315.

Mikala K., 1995: Use of GIS as a Tool for Operational Decision Making, Implementation of a National Marine Oil Spill Contingency Plan for Estonia.Carl Bro International a/s, Glostrup, Denmark

Niger Delta Environmental Survey, 1997: Environmental and Socio-Economic Characteristics. Environmental Resources Manager Limited, 2 Lalupon Close S.W. Ikoyi, Lagos.

Ntukekpo D.S.,1996 : Spillage: Bane of Petroleum, Ultimate Water Technology $ Environment

Nwilo, P.C., Peters K.O. and Badejo O.T., 2000: Sustainable Management of Oil Spill Incidents along the Nigerian Coastal Areas. Electronic Conference on Sustainable Development Information Systems, CEDARE.

Olagoke W., 1996 : Niger Delta Environmental Survey : Which Way Forward ?, Ultimate Water Technology & Environment.

Oshineye, A., 2000: The Petroleum Industry in Nigeria: An Overview. Modern Practice Journal of Finanace & Investment Law. Learned Publishments Limited. Vol. 4. No. 4

Ozekhome, M., 2001: Legislation for Growth in the Niger Delta, Midweek Pioneer

Ozobia, N.V., 1998: Engineering Challenges in the Nigerian Maritime Industry. Third Engineering Distinguished Lecture. Faculty of Engineering, University of Lagos.

Parthiphan, K., 1994: Oil Spill Sensitivity Mapping Using a Geographical Information System. Department of Geography, University of Aberdeen. EGIS Foundation.

Prince R., 1993: Petroleum Spill Nioremediation in Marine Environments. Critical Rev. Micobiol. 19(4), 217-242.

Salu A.O., 1999: Securing Environmental Protection in the Nigerian Oil Industry. . Modern Practice Journal of Finanace & Investment Law. Learned Publihments Limited. Vol. 3. No. 2.

Sandberg, E.C., 1996: Development of Remote Sensing for Coast Guard Applications. Remore Sensing. No. 28, pp 12.

Smith, L.A. & L. Loza, 1994: Texas Turns to GIS For Oil Spill Management. Geo Info Systems. pp 48.

TED Case Studies, 1997: The Russian Arctic Oil Spill Case No 265, Komi,

The Petroleum Industry And The Nigerian Environment, 1985: The Petroleum Inspectorate Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation $ Environmental Planning and Protection Division, The Federal Ministry Of Works And Housing.

Smith, W., 1977: The Control of Oil Pollution on the Sea and Inland Waters. Graham and Trotman Ltd, United Kingdom.


Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai and Son of Executed Nigerian Activist Ken Wiwa Discuss Oil and the Environment

We take a look at oil and the environment with Ken Wiwa–the son of Ken Saro Wiwa who was executed in 1995 by the Nigerian military dictatorship and Nobel Peace prize-winner and leading environmentalist Wangari Maathai.

We spend the rest of the hour talking about oil and other environmental issues with perhaps the leading environmentalist in the world today, Wangari Mathai. She is the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Wangari Maathai just spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative which was an alternative summit to the World Summit at the United Nations that took place last week.

We also speak with Ken Wiwa–the son of Ken Saro-Wiwa who was executed in 1995 by the Nigerian military dictatorship. Saro-Wiwa led the movement against Shell corporation’s exploitation of his home land. In 1994, Saro-Wiwa was imprisoned and accused of incitement to murder. Despite widespread international protests, Saro-Wiwa was hanged after a sham trial with other eight Ogoni rights activists.

  • Wangari Maathai, ecologist and zoology professor. She is the founder of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya. She was named the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, becoming the first African woman and first environmentalist to win the award.
  • Ken Wiwa, journalist and author. He is a faculty member at Massey College in Toronto and a writer for The Globe and Mail. His book “In the Shadow of a Saint” is about his father, Nigerian activist and political prisoner Ken Saro-Wiwa who was killed in 1995.
    –For more information:

Related Link: Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship

Rush Transcript

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AMY GOODMAN: Yes, oil and the environment and other environmental issues is what we’re going to talk about today with perhaps the leading environmentalist in the world, Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner. We are also joined by Ken Wiwa, who is the son of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nigerian environmentalist who was executed in 1995 by the Nigerian military dictatorship. Ken Saro-Wiwa led the movement against Shell corporation’s exploitation of his homeland, Ogoniland. In 1994, Ken Saro-Wiwa was imprisoned and he was tried by what many called a “kangaroo court.” And ultimately, on November 10th, 1995, despite widespread international outcry, was executed. Welcome both, to Democracy Now!.

KEN WIWA: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you both with us.

KEN WIWA: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to begin with Wangari Maathai. You’ve come back to New York at the same time that the U.N. summit has taken place, scores of world leaders coming to New York, you were here for what?

WANGARI MAATHAI: Well I’m here partly to continue sharing the message that was given to us by the Norwegian Nobel committee that decided that environment, the democracy of world governance and peace are very closely linked, and to continue exploring this linkage, and challenging all of us to think clearly along those lines. And also to attend the Clinton Global Initiative that was taking place here in New York, and there are also some other activities that I will be attending. But it is, they are all to do with my laureate here and with the challenge to continue sharing this message.

AMY GOODMAN: There’s been a lot of criticism of the U.N. document that has just come out, a lot of charges that the U.S. intervened to water down its goals and commitments. What is your take on that?

WANGARI MAATHAI: I think that there is hardly any time that I have listened to the U.N. and have come out with the documents, that the world felt that they were strong documents. There is always a feeling that when the leaders of the world come together, they don’t always commit themselves as strongly as we would like them to. But I’ve always felt that the challenge really lies at the national level. That many of the heads of states who were here in New York have to demonstrate their commitment to these goals at the national level, allocate adequately resources to the national goals, ask their own people to be committed and to try to implement these goals and not to expect that by coming to the U.N. and passing strong documents the goals will be realized. So I want to say yes, the document was watered down. But yes, it is the leaders themselves who must make sure that these goals are realized at the national level.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think is the most critical issue to take on right now at a global level, and also in your own country of Kenya.

WANGARI MAATHAI: Well, looking at all of those goals, I really feel that while all the goals are very, very important, the one goal that I think is very important goal is Goal #7, the goal on sustainable management of our resources. This is because if you manage the resources responsibly, accountably, if you try to share those resources equitably at the national level, a lot of those goals will be realized, or it will be much easier to realize those goals. But no matter what we do, if we do not manage our environment sustainably, those goals will not be realized. So I really think that the Goal #7 is extremely important, coupled with a deliberate and honest commitment by governments to promote justice and equity at the national level.

AMY GOODMAN: Wangari Maathai is the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner. We’ll be back with her, as well as the son of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ken Wiwa.


AMY GOODMAN: As we continue with our guests, Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Ken Wiwa, the son of Ken Saro-Wiwa. I will never forget meeting Ken Saro-Wiwa in 1994, when he came to our studios at Pacifica station WBAI here in New York. He hadn’t been scheduled for an interview on our local morning show, “Wake-Up Call,” which I hosted with Bernard White of WBAI. But an activist brought him in, said he was just there for the morning and would like to come on the show. I’m ashamed to say we hadn’t even heard of him at that point. But since they said he was only available that morning, we began the interview, said we could only do a few minutes. And then minute by minute, we shed the next guests throughout the show, so that we only ended up interviewing Ken Saro-Wiwa as he talked about the nexus of corporate government and military power in his home of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, particularly in Ogoniland. He talked about his struggle against Shell Corporation. This is a brief excerpt of what Ken Saro-Wiwa had to say.

KEN SARO-WIWA: Shell had a meeting, operatives of Shell in Nigeria. And of those at the Hague, in the Netherlands, and in London, held a meeting. And they decided that they would have to keep an eye on me, and watch wherever I go to. Follow me constantly to ensure that I do not embarrass Shell. So as far as I’m concerned, I’m a marked man where Shell are concerned. And indeed, I have been in detention in Nigeria several times. My passport has been impounded. And the last time around, in the middle of June, I was held for 31 days without charge. And eventually—

AMY GOODMAN: By the Nigerian government?

KEN SARO-WIWA: Yes, the Nigerian government held me, shunted me from prison to prison. And it’s under international concern that allowed them to set my bail. Early this year, on the second of January to be precise, I was placed under house arrest with my entire family for three days. In order to stop a planned protest against Shell, 300,000 Ogoni people were going to move to protest the devastation of the environment by Shell and the other multinational oil companies. It was in the interest of these companies to ensure that I was not, that this demonstration did not hold. And all they did was simply send the military authorities to my house. They disconnected my telephones, confiscated the handsets, and I was held for three days, without food.

AMY GOODMAN: Ken Saro-Wiwa, speaking in 1994. This is Democracy Now!. Ken Wiwa, his son, is our guest. Ken Saro-Wiwa was ultimately executed when he went back to Nigeria. As he said, “I am a marked man.” And he was arrested in May of 1994, executed November 10, 1995. Ken Wiwa, welcome as well.

KEN WIWA: Good morning, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. You’re here talking about your father. You wrote a book about him as well, “In the Shadow Of a Saint,” about your father. Can you talk about his struggle with Shell Corporation? With the Nigerian military?

KEN WIWA: I mean, my father began as a 17-year-old writing letters, protest letters in local papers, protesting about the role of oil companies in our community. And for 30 years, it really informed his writing and his political activism. And you know, he was a consistent campaigner against the effects of oil pollution, the effect of oil on the political culture of my country. And eventually, he became so effective, mobilizing the community to stand up for their rights, to protest for their rights, drawing international attention to what was happening in my country. He became so effective that they decided to do away with him.

AMY GOODMAN: Where were you at the time he was arrested?

KEN WIWA: I was in England. I had been brought up partly in England. I was born and raised in Nigeria, and also raised in England.

AMY GOODMAN: What was the role of Shell at that time? Once he was arrested, held and ultimately executed? How powerful was it, do you believe, it could have stopped the execution?

KEN WIWA: Well Brian Anderson, the chairman of Shell Nigeria, met my uncle.


KEN WIWA: Owen Wiwa. And he offered to do something, if we stopped the international protest. So Shell was more concerned about their image, about the damage that our protests was doing to their image, than they were concerned about the material issues in which my father had raised about the effects of their activities in my community. And they also held a watching brief, legal brief at the trial, that sentenced my father to death. And two prosecution witnesses testified and gave signed, sworn affidavits that they had been offered bribes, Shell contracts, to testify against my father. They were actively involved in the conspiracy to silence my father.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you spoken to them since?

KEN WIWA: Well, you know, we make representations to them. My father, my father didn’t bear grudges, it’s not in the nature of my family or my community to bear grudges. We believe that Shell was part of the problem and must be part of the solution. We still feel that with some kind of dignity and a commitment to social justice that the situation could still be salvaged. But it’s been almost 10 years since my father was executed. And it’s this year that we managed to retrieve his bones. We’re going to give him a proper burial. Not one single member of the Nigerian military, which invaded Ogoni, conducted extra judicial murders, raped young girls, women, all in the name of trying to suppress the protest of our organization so that oil could resume. Not one member of the military has been arrested or tried or detained or held accountable for what happened in Ogoni. So you know, I think to say justice delayed is justice denied. And unfortunately, what’s happening in Nigeria as a whole that the nonviolent methods which my father advocated is being replaced by a more violent approach, or a more radical approach. To say if you make nonviolent change impossible, you make violent change inevitable.

AMY GOODMAN: And what are the roles of Shell Corporation, also Chevron and others right now in the Niger delta, in Nigeria.

KEN WIWA: They’re instrumental, 90% of foreign exchange revenues and 80% of government revenues come from oil in Nigeria. What’s, allegedly what’s good for the oil companies in Nigeria is good for the Nigerian people. But that’s not the case, we know that’s not the case. But what worries me is that 25% of U.S. oil is going to coming from the Gulf, from that area, in West Africa, in the next 10 years. Nigeria is going to be set to increase production from 2.2 million barrels a day to 4.4 million barrels a day. So Nigeria is going to be increasingly important in the energy security triangle, if you like. And the oil companies continue to pump oil, continue to drill for oil, continue business as usual. But unfortunately, I think they have to start paying attention to the social, cultural and environmental effects of that business as usual. You can’t continue, it’s not sustainable.

AMY GOODMAN: When I went to Nigeria in 1998 with my colleague, Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill, doing a documentary on Chevron and its involvement in the Niger delta, we visited your grandparents, who have since both died, at their compound, as they remembered Ken, and the whole community came out, hundreds of people. One man actually recited the speech that your father gave in court.

KEN WIWA: He was prevented from making it.

AMY GOODMAN: He wrote it?

KEN WIWA: Yes. It would have been his final statement to the tribunal. And it’s a powerful statement. And in it, I remember very clearly, he does say that the signs that this court is giving out will be picked up by the waiting public, whether they’re nonviolent means he advocated, or the violence, which has been visited on our people, will be clearly sent to the people.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ll link to it on our website, Maybe by the end of the show, we can get it. It’s in the documentary “Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship.” But Wangari Maathai, did you ever meet Ken Saro-Wiwa? And how did his work influence yours?

WANGARI MAATHAI: Unfortunately, we never met. But I knew of his work and I’m sure he knew of our work in East Africa. We knew that what he was really doing was raising a challenge to a corporation. In a culture that has been very typical in the entire continent. We know that most people in the world look at Africa as a poor continent because most people in Africa are always presented as being poor. But people like Ken Saro-Wiwa, who are bringing out the facts clearly, to demonstrate that Africa is not poor, Africa is extremely rich, but her resources are exploited and her people do not benefit from those resources. And the case of the one land and one people was a very clear demonstration of how resources can be exploited and the people do not benefit.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see the occupation of Iraq, the war in Iraq, as a war over resources?

WANGARI MAATHAI: Well, I don’t want to make that statement categorically. What I would make is a general statement that most conflicts in this world are due to resources, are due to the fact that there are those of us who feel like we have a right to access resources, whatever they are. We have a right to exploit those resources, whatever they are. And we do not feel obligated to share those resources, equitably. We want to exclude. Now, unfortunately, in many places, those who feel excluded become frustrated, angry and sometimes will undermine our peace and security. And therefore, it’s not surprising that with the case in Nigeria, in Kenya, in Darfur, in the Congo, to mention a few examples in my own continent, whenever you have injustices, inequalities, exclusion, of the opportunity to share these resources, you will have conflict. And it is, in a way, self-deceptive to believe that we can create peace by subduing, by excluding. We can’t. Sooner or later, those who are excluded become angry and they react.

AMY GOODMAN: Ken Wiwa, what do you think has to happen now? With oil really very much on the minds of everyone in this country, from the issue of Hurricane Katrina to Iraq?

KEN WIWA: Well, I think we have to be more vigilant as citizens, we have to understand the connections between the oil industry and government. We have to make governments more accountable for people and the planet, not just accountable to those, to big oil. Here in the U.S., since this administration came to power, the top five oil companies have made $250 billion and they gave campaign contributions of $50 million. So we have to be aware of the effect of oil on the political system. Now I’m working with an organization called Oil Change, which is trying to separate oil from states. And you can look them up on But apart from that too, I think we’re building democracy deficits in the west because where these companies get the power to influence political, public policy in the U.S., is in places like Nigeria, where they’re not accountable. What we’re trying to do down there is emphasize nonviolent solutions, and the Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation which we’ve launched this year is trying to uphold the legacy of nonviolence that my father began that we must, we must absolutely work for a sustainable future on a nonviolent platform. Otherwise, what’s happening now is that the region is being militarized. There’s a rush for oil. There’s a new cold war over Africa between the U.S. and China and they’re trying to grab resources. The resources of Africa. Two-thirds of the world’s resources are in Africa, and unfortunately this rush, this grab for oil is militarizing the zone.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you say the situation is worse than it was 10 years ago when your father was executed?

KEN WIWA: I think so, because there’s an infiltration of small arms now in West Africa. In the Niger delta, where I’m living—

AMY GOODMAN: You’re in Port Harcourt.

KEN WIWA: In Port Harcourt. There are four small arms for every computer. Seventy percent of Africans are under the age of 25 and young people now see they’re not getting the opportunities that these resources, if they were applied, the development of their potential, they’re not seeing the benefits of those resources. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen if we continue to apply military solutions to what we’re quite clearly capable of developing by the human potential and building the infrastructure to give those people a chance.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us, Ken Wiwa and Wangari Maathai. Ken Wiwa will be speaking tonight in New York at St. Illumination Hall, 221 East 27th St. Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize winner 2004, speaking at Harvard University in Massachusetts on Friday, September 30.

Pollution – Spills
Pollution – Gas Flaring

Ten years since the death of Saro-Wiwa and the Niger Delta is today on the brink of disaster. The Delta is awash with arms and a serious conflict could occur. Decades of under-development, pollution and corruption have created severe hardship and a sense of hopelessness for many.

The people of the Delta endure poverty, pollution and conflict despite the billions in oil revenues that have been extracted from their land.

Following the executions in 1995, Shell, the oil industry and many transnational corporations announced new policies and procedures. These were aimed at repairing the public image of big business so badly tainted by Ken Saro-Wiwa’s struggle and the damage in Nigeria and elsewhere. Shell’s slogan became ‘Profits and Principles’.

But, 10 years on, the façade of corporate social responsibility is nowhere more exposed and challenged than in the polluted, impoverished and conflict-torn villages and towns of the Niger Delta.

Nigeria’s oil resources have gone to waste. The estimated US$350 billion earned from oil by the government between 1965 and 2000 did little to alleviate poverty in Nigeria and, according to many studies, actually exacerbated deprivation through the opportunities it provided for corruption and abuse. Nigeria is among the 15 poorest countries in the world and 70% of its people live below the poverty line.

While all of Nigeria has suffered from this waste, the oil producing regions of the Delta have borne an even greater burden. The pollution of air, land and water has been ceaseless for over 45 years. Conflict has plagued the region as the powerful few vie for the spoils from oil.

As traditional livelihoods of fishing and farming have been decimated by oil spills and precious little development has resulted from oil revenues, so the growth of disaffection and criminal activity has spread throughout the region.

Millions of barrels of oil are being stolen from the leaking infrastructure, providing funds for a widespread escalation in armed violence and political corruption. Over 1000 people per year are dying in armed conflict in the Niger Delta today.

The foreign oil companies blame the government. But the people see the government and the companies as inseparable sources of their problems – the companies work with the government at every level.

The pollution, underdevelopment, corruption and abuse that the people of the Niger Delta endure has not decreased in the last ten years – it has increased. The change to a democratic government in 1999 has brought little benefit. Gas flaring continues and there are frequent oil spills.

Meanwhile, over 2 million barrels of oil a day are pumped from the region providing more than US$100 million a day to be shared between the companies and the government. In 2005, the world’s major oil companies announced record profits. In the Niger Delta today there are plenty of profits – for a few – but precious little sign of any principles.

Here we present some very brief details of the situation covering the issues of poverty, pollution (gas flaring and oil spills) and conflict.

A’Ibom Warns Against Kidnapping Ahead PDP Summit
The PDP stakeholders’ summit to mark the 10th Anniversary celebration of the ruling party began in Uyo on Thursday, with the assurance from the state government that lives of President Yar’Adua, and other top dignitaries of the party due for the summit were very safe. The assurance is coming on the heels of warning to youths in the state to conduct themselves properly as no case of misbehaviour would be tolerated during the period of the summit. National Chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, was scheduled to arrive the state on Thursday for crucial deliberations on the achievements of the party within the last ten years of its existence.

The Akwa Ibom governor noted that the choice of Akwa Ibom state for the summit underscored the importance the ruling party attached to the contributions of the Niger Delta region to overall development of the country. He said that there was no cause for alarm as adequate security measures were taken to ensure the safety of the dignitaries expected at the summit in which a former minister, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, would present a lecture on the role of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in good governance in the present democratic era.

Addressing newsmen on the security preparation, Chief Akpabio who expressed satisfaction with efforts of the security agents in combating crime in the state, disclosed that the state security outfit, ‘Operation Aduma’, has smashed a leading kidnapping gang in the state, with 29 suspects in the police net currently awaiting prosecution. According to the governor, the kingpin whose name was not disclosed had made useful confession to the police on his nefarious activities, including, the kidnapping of 6 Russian employees of UC RUSAL ALSCON, and the kidnapping of Mobil staff at Eket.

The kingpin who operates from Warri and Port Harcourt and who was arrested on returning from a gang operation in the state, was quoted to have confessed that his arrest was an ‘Act of God’. He noted that the Peoples Democratic Party in the last 10 years had done well to move the country forward. Niger Delta STANDARD gathered that among over 500 delegates expected at the summit included Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, senate president, the speaker of the house of representatives, state governors, national executive members of the Peoples Democratic Party, members of the board of trustees of the party.

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