Niger Delta deserves more than Tokenism – Ankio Briggs

Ogoni clean up operation needs to be revamped -Ankio Briggs Niger Delta Activist, Ankio Briggs and Tolulope Ogunjobi on Business Nigeria

The much talked about clean up of the devastation in Ogoni land as part of efforts to clean up the Niger Delta in Rivers State is still just a project that is only represented by a plaque in the community.

Niger Delta activist Ankio Briggs disclosed this while featuring on the flagship Business Programme on TVC News, Business Nigeria.

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Ankio Briggs who spoke exclusively to Tolulope Ogunjobi on several issues affecting the Niger Delta region and the Oil and Gas sector said the Federal Government has to move from Tokenism which will not help the people of the region.

She added that the reputed Ogoni clean up operation is no longer feasible with the report upon which the clean up will be based having been conducted over two decades ago.

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She lamented the lack of basic amenities and infrastructure deficit in the region when compared to Other parts of the Country.

She called for what she says is control of resources by all regions or States with only payment of Tax to the Federal Government.

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Read More from her appearance Below ..

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“Of course it’s not trickling down. That is the whole topic of discussion. Of course it’s not trickling down. Now, going to the clean up in the Niger Delta Delta, let me emphasize here again that the UNEP Report that was carried out by the United Nations in Ogoni Land was the entry point. Ogoni was used as the entry point, and rightly so, because we cannot go and do what the UNEP Report did in Ogoni all over the place, but we can actually accept and we know that it’s not only Ogoni that is devastated. So if you take the devastation of Ogoni land and now come up with a proposal or recommendation of how to clean up the Niger Delta region, then that’s good enough for the Niger Delta people because it is just as bad in Ogoni Land as it is in Bayelsa, as it is in River State.

 

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Now. It’s almost two decades now, almost two decades since the UNEP Report came out. Now, if you look at the UNEP Report at the time it came out and you fast forward to today and you look at the value of the Naira and the value of the dollar, you will see very clearly that that report, in terms of the amount of money that the UNEP Report suggested, is going to be needed to clean up Ogoni land. Not the whole of the United States where they had carried out the investigation was OgonI Land. And so they are saying that what it would mean to clean up organization and they came up with why they say so the water is polluted, the air is polluted, we can’t fish, we can’t farm. So our livelihood has been taken away from us in the past, today, and even in the future. They also said, the report also said that the level of pollution that is in the middle land will take a minimum of 30 to 50 years to completely clean up and bring it back to at some level. So that means therefore that with all the stealing and the pollution that has gone on since the UNEP Report, then it means that it is just as bad, if not by two times or three times by the standard that the UNEP Report used. Now, people keep saying Ogoni is being cleaned up. Oscar and opened a plaque in one place in OgonI land and they said the cleanup is about to go on. There is no cleanup going on in Ogoni Land, there is no cleanup that will go on in Ogoni Land or in the Niger Delta region. So again, when we hear about clean up, when we hear about what the oil companies are doing look, I for one, I have said decades ago, I do not see the oil companies coming into into my community and build hospitals for me.

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No. I have the resources in my land that the oil companies are taking now. I want to be paid for the oil that is in my land so that I can build the best hospital for me and my people, or I cannot build I will not build the best hospital for me and my people, but you cannot ask me to account. The federal government is not just unfair when it claims that it is doing this and it is doing that one.

And then the oil companies say, oh, they are doing global corporate expectations in the Niger Delta. No, they are not. There is nothing in the Niger Delta that they can truly point out at any time and say, we built this. And because we have built this, the lifespan of the people in Ogoni is no longer 45 years. It is now 55 years. If you don’t have that information to verify what you have done in the community, then you have no right to claim that you have done those things. There is no need. If you build a hospital and the hospital is empty and there is no doctor there, so why did you build a hospital? Or the school? Or the water? Our water is polluted. I used to drink water from the well when I was a little girl. When my father brought me back, when he was coming back from studying, I used to drink water from the well. Today, that very well I used to drink from in my grandfather’s compound is polluted. When I’m going home, I buy bottles of water to go home to Abonema.

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So that is the story of the Niger Delta person. It is not my personal story alone. It is the story of the Niger Delta people. We breathe polluted air. We drink polluted water. People have not developed to the point where we no longer use the water we drink as a point of defecation. When you look at these things and NNPC is claiming or the Ministry of Petrol is claiming there is oil test here, there’s oil tests there, and they want to keep it on the Niger Delta people. It’s not fair and it’s not acceptable.

Let me put it like this. We would prefer that we don’t have a pie. We would prefer that we don’t have NDDC that we don’t have Ministry of Petroleum, that we don’t have NDDC, that we don’t have any of these agencies that is controlled by the same corrupt government system that has put them in place, is everything about the Niger Delta is controlled from Abuja. Now, when we begin to talk about development, you cannot convince the Niger Delta person today that the reason why the Niger Delta is not developed is because of the Niger Delta people. It is not true. Now, on the issue of giving pipeline protection to the Niger Delta is incorrect. The pipeline protection, the one I am aware of, that is on ground today. The contract has been given to a company that is owned by Tompolo. It was given by the government. As a contract is not as a payback, it’s not as anything. It’s a job he has to do. Let us get this clear now. He is not the only person in Niger Delta. There is a traditional ruler that owns some of the pipeline contracts. There is also a very rich Niger Delta son that also his company also owns part of that pipeline protection contract.

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So it is wrong and it is running away from the truth by just bringing out Tompolo and putting him out there and say Tompolo is an ex agitator, he has got contract to protect pipelines. No, it’s not true. He bidded for it. He had this pipeline contract before him. He had that contract and so did other ex agitators in the Niger Delta had this similar contract. And then Buhari came along and retrieved the contract and it reissued it to other people and dropped Tompolo’s company. And Tompolo has been fighting them and got the contract back. So let us tell the truth at every point of the way so that the people of Nigeria are aware, and particularly the Nigerian people are aware of what is going on. Now, on the issue of oil theft, if you are breaking a pipeline, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know what I’m going to tell you. Now, if there are pipelines of about 20, 30, 40 inches in diameter that is crisscrossing the Niger Delta region, some of them are up. You can see them and some of them are down. Now, if you are doing that, and mind you, these pipes that we’re talking about, they are not new pipes. They were laid in 1960 when oil was being commercialized. Those pipelines are almost 62 years old or more. They are still there.

They are corrosive they are metal today to buy and other places. The pipeline they have is not corrosive. That’s one aspect of it. So the lifespan of the pipeline in the Niger Delta is dead. And so it shouldn’t surprise anybody that there are leakages here and there. So to constantly put the issue of pipeline leakages to assimilate that it is 90 days of people that are breaking the pipeline, it’s not true that it is technology that is supposed to control the pipeline. The oil companies know when they are putting oil through the pipeline. They know how much oil they are putting through the pipeline, but they should know how much oil they are putting through the pipeline.

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And that’s why I say Nigerian government does not know, has no idea of how much oil is being lifted. They just accept what Shell tells them, what Mobil tells them, or what any oil company tells them. They just accept it. Now, when ships are anchored off the ocean, far away from Boni, far away from the ELFA, when ships that can take 2 million barrels of oil, 1 million barrels of oil that cannot come into the Niger Delta and this oil theft is going on, you can’t blame it on the Niger Delta people.

How many of us own ships that can lift oil? Nobody. I don’t know anybody in the Niger that owns that. So when we talk about development, we want a situation where we control our resources. So when I am asked what do I think the solution is, I told you. The solution is we must have control over our own resources and pay taxes to the federal government. Why? Because we’re in Nigeria. If there comes a day that we’re no longer in Nigeria, Nigeria cannot claim the oil in the Niger Delta. And who says that such a time will not come? Because why do people think why does the government think that the Niger Delta people will continue? Or that every Niger Delta person is prepared to continue under these circumstances? That we are totally deprived of anything? I grew up in Abonema and was 56 until about something before a small bridge was built for us to drive from my community.

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My own is even good. There are people in Kolo, they produce oil and gas, and yet they can’t get to Kolo without taking one and a half to 2 hours boat ride. Look at Bonnie. People cannot get from Potato to Bonnie without going by boat into the mouth of the ocean. Our lives are at risk every day. And yet the money that is coming from the Niger Delta is not able to build good roads for us.

Why does federal government have to have the right to build what they call federal government road? Why must we have roads for federal government? It’s because they want to continue to take the resources and claim that they will use it to build roads. East West Road is being built for over 30 years. The same with the bridge that should link all other parts of river state and the Niger Delta. Richard bonnie, we are still talking about it. And it is only when the state government builds roads for what it is worth, that we have roads in the Niger Delta. And yet the same money coming from the Niger Delta region is building autobahn in places in Nigeria, where people don’t have cars as we have them in the south. So when we continue to discuss this injustice and continue to align it with government is bad governance. And quite honestly, I don’t think Nigeria is going to have a reprieve on government and accountability unless we, the people, begin to agitate that.

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We must have the right to decide our own future. And that’s what self determination is about. You can be self determined in Nigeria. Every state can decide what it does with his own. Look, you have people producing oil in massive quantity. Tomorrow they will tell you oil is no longer viable. Fine. If it’s no longer viable, leave it there. Let’s have a moratorium on oil. Because if we don’t have a moratorium on oil, then other states cannot develop themselves. You have states that cannot pay their salaries, and they cannot generate enough internal revenue to pay their workers, but yet they survive. How do they survive? They survive from the oil and gas from the Niger Delta, and yet Niger Delta people, that they are the devils and that they are the feast of something that belongs to them right now.”

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