Nbani Friday Barilule is a climate activist and Executive Director of the Lekeh Development Foundation (LEDEF) in Nigeria, where the presence of Shell has been linked to grave environmental and human rights abuses.
The Ogoni people can still not breathe and it’s of concern because anything that destroys the environment destroys lives, coupled with pain, torture, rape, conflicts and killing for oil records in the land today. The Ogoni people and their lands have suffered ill treatment from the Shell and Nigerian government as a result of oil exploration and mining. My people are oppressed, persecuted and marginalized by our own government for seeking redress and respect for our human and environmental rights especially over the natural endowments. Ken Saro Wiwa and others were hanged on the 10th November 1995 for leading a mass-base struggle against shell SPDC and the Nigerian government for their illegal and inhuman activities in the area.
It has become imperative to note that over 4,000 Ogonis; Ken Saro-Wiwa, an award winning Nigerian writer, television producer and environmental activist inclusive, have been killed. It is also worthy to note that Ken Saro-Wiwa and others were hanged by the Nigerian government for seeking to speak for the people. Ogoni is a victim of Nigeria’s discrimination through laws that are not only unfair but tacitly approves Ogoni persecution and killings without questioning.
The worst of it is that the people are predominantly farmers and fishermen, when oil from the mining sites spills into the rivers, destroying fish upon which the livelihood of the poorer people depends. When this happens, the people only cry to their God as there is no one to run to. Oil also spilled into farmlands and caused environmental damage beyond remediation.
The situation is worsened by the lack of basic amenities that should support healthy living like water, hospitals, schools, electricity and even police security. No good drinking water can be found anywhere in Ogoniland. And all we breath daily is soot as a result of the mining activities. On daily basis women are raped and the people are predominantly poor.
In Ogoni today, the production of caskets has become lucrative because the demand for it is very high. It is said to be the fastest growing business as death rate keeps increasing. Strange sicknesses and massive deaths have become the fate of the Ogoni people whose oil revenue make Nigeria a mighty nation and a regional power.
Our Earth, biodiversity and nature are in danger. We have lost respect and love towards it and we need to restore it now. Our earth needs friends for protection. Lekeh Development Foundation (LEDEF) envisions a sustainable, just and peaceful future where universal rights are respected. The Niger Delta region of Nigeria is endowed with Rich biodiversity and the region is regarded globally as a biodiversity ‘hot spot’.
LEDEF Nigeria is currently targeting campaign to build and unite movements, networks, and coalitions to end the age of fossil fuels in Niger Delta and move to foster the use of clean renewable energy. We are hereby uniting diverse campaigns with a call to halt new fossil fuels infrastructure in Niger Delta.
We want our local communities and institutions to commit to:
- A rapid just transition to 100% renewable energy for all.
- No new fossil fuel projects in Niger Delta Region.
- Not a penny more for dirty energy.
- Training of 10 000 Niger Delta youths on renewable energy.
- Governments should be committed to subsidizing renewables and not fossil fuels.
We can not be allowing the people who are adversely affected by Shell to be groaning in pain. Ogoni people can still ‘not breathe’ we call on the international Community for solidarity while I use this opportunity to thank the organizers of this epic event to ensure that Shell must fall both in Nigeria and internationally.
Together we are strong to secure the brighter future peacefully, non-violently and we shall win.