From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
More than a month after massive crude oil began spewing from Oil Mining License(OML), 29 Santa Barbara South field well 01 owned by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO) with no signs of it being stopped, the people of Nembe have cried out to the Federal Government to compel Aiteo to ensure a quick capping of the spill.
The people are also urging the Federal Government to also compel the oil company to begin comprehensive clean–up operations expeditiously, in compliance with global best practices.
Findings indicated that Aiteo had employed the services of Boots and Coots to help in capping the wellhead and contain the spill, the efforts are yet to yield the desired fruit because of the high pressure of the crude.
The position of the Nembe people was delivered in a press conference addressed by the Nembe Se Congress, the socio-cultural and non-political umbrella organisation of Nembe ethnic nationality.
The President of the Nembe Se Congress, Prof Godwin-Egein, who described the wellhead blowout as the “biggest oil spill disaster in the history of oil and gas exploration and exploitation in Nigeria”, said it is an existential threat to the people of Nembe.
Prof Egein who was joined by other members of the congress and some of the affected people with placards with inscriptions such as ‘Federal Government take responsibility of the ongoing disaster,’ ‘We want to die of old age, not oil spill’, ‘Nembe spill is a national disaster’ and ‘ Federal Government should come our rescue’ declared that the primary means of livelihood and sustenance of the people has been totally destroyed due to the on-going situation.
The Congress advised the people still living around the various fishing and farming settlements around the spill site to immediately relocate to safer locations because of the health implications on their continued stay around the area.
The group which commended the Minister of State, Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva and Governor Douye Diri for their recent visit to the site, urged the Federal Government to ensure a Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) takes place as soon as possible.
It also called for an independent investigation to unravel all the issues behind the disaster, with recommendations against future occurrences.
“Nembe Se Congress hereby publicly affirms our commitment to also constitute a body of experts to join the investigative effort in order to get to the root of this matter.
“There must be an urgent but comprehensive remediation programme for the ecosystem to restore the biodiversity of the affected areas.
“We use this medium to advise all interested parties in this matter to avoid playing politics with the lives of our people and our environment all of which are currently under serious threat.”