Oil and gas producing communities in Ndokwa and Ukwuani Local Government Areas of Delta State have appealed to the federal government and the international community to take urgent steps to end the flaring of gas by oil companies operating in their areas within the shortest time possible.
The people said they were suffering and dying silently from the negative impact of gas flaring and expressed dismay that the Nigerian government, which collects benefits including fines for gas flaring, appeared to be unconcerned about their plight.
Gas flaring has been affecting the physical health of the generality of the people and crop yields negatively while the air, water and land are being polluted, they lamented while recounting their unpleasant experience.
Some participants called for “a state of emergency” to be declared on the flaring of gas in host communities in the Niger-Delta in order for the problem to attract government and international attention.
The people of Ebedei and Obodougwa-Ogume communities in Ndokwa West and Ukwani local government areas, respectively, bared their minds during sensitisation campaign meetings with environmental rights activists and oil community advocacy experts organised by Koyenum Immalah Foundation (KIF), an Asaba-based non-governmental organisation.
The facilitator of the campaign and executive director of KIF, Faith Nwadishi, explained that the objective of the exercise was “to sensitise oil communities in the Niger-Delta region to the need to stop further flaring of gas by oil companies, which has existed in the region for almost 50 years.”
While noting that campaign was not aimed a stopping the legitimate operations of oil companies in the area, Nwadishi maintained that the insistence of oil companies to continue with the very harmful practice even in the light of global outcry should be condemned by all well-meaning individuals and organisations.
What is accepted world-wide as best practice in the oil and gas sector is the enhancement of gases associated with oil exploitation instead of flaring them, she stressed, saying thousands of jobs could be created for the people if fared gas was harnessed.
Nwadishi, who led experts on gas flaring to Obodougwa and Ebedei, both communities of Ndokwa ethnic nationality in Delta State, noted that oil operators in the Niger Delta region were insincere by continuing to justify gas flaring.
“Participants in an international conference recently were astonished to hear that gas flaring continued unabated in Nigeria, whereas oil companies operating in the Niger Delta painted a picture that flaring had ended in the region.
In the same vein, Rev. Fr Edward Obi of the National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills in Niger Delta (NACGON) while addressing chiefs, elders, women and youths of the Ndokwa communities, said they deserved a fair deal from the natural resources on their land, which should be a blessing rather than impoverishing them.
Obi, who explained the impact of excessive heat from the gas flare on the air, rain and groundwater as well as their health and their unborn offspring, however assured the group would not relent in efforts to stop gas flaring by engaging relevant authorities including oil operators and government.