The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the National Assembly to organise a public hearing to address the environmental and human rights concerns raised by host communities, as regards the divestment plans of International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria.
Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Chima Williams stated this during an advocacy visit to the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Kingsley Chinda in Abuja, as part of ERA/FoEN’s efforts to ensure that the divesting IOCs do not short-change the oil-bearing communities of the Niger Delta region.
Speaking at the meeting, Williams explained that the controversy generated by the plans by Eni to sell its Nigerian subsidiary to Oando has exposed how the multinationals mine with reckless abandon and then leave the toxic assets for indigenous companies that refuse to shoulder their liabilities.
He stressed that the decision of the oil firms to leave the region without remediating oil pollution on farmlands and water systems was tantamount to sucking the juice from a fruit and leaving the chaff behind.
“In virtually all the cases where IOC divestment has happened, host communities feel used and dumped hence a legislative intervention has become necessary. A public hearing is one among several approaches to address the new trend of divestments by the multinationals, as they now see divestment plans as a way of running away from their responsibilities.”
Williams, however, revealed that in the organization’s bid to document the divestment processes from the perspective of the host communities, ERA/FoEN has been working with host communities in Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo and Delta states, among others, articulating the demands of the people in a policy brief which also points the way forward in holding the corporations to account.
Responding, Hon. Chinda said that the IOC divestment issue touches the very core of the lives of Niger Delta communities, as it is one of the numerous challenges caused by oil exploration activities.
He further stated that the National Assembly will be willing to hear from affected communities and that he will continue to promote Bills and legislations that uplift the standard of living of Nigerians.
The lawmaker also pledged his readiness to continue working with civil society and groups in the Niger Delta to address the plight of host communities and the issues created by oil extraction.
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