|France doesn’t just want to be friends with Francophone countries. What we want is for France to talk to all of Africa|
Nicolas Sarkozy French President
|France doesn’t just want to be friends with Francophone countries. What we want is for France to talk to all of Africa|
Nicolas Sarkozy French President
Law of Karma at work: Deepwater horizon disaster already killing millions in Nigeria for decades by careless American companies SHELL.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster caused headlines around the world, yet the people who live in the Niger delta have had to live with environmental catastrophes for decades
A ruptured pipeline burns in a Lagos suburb after an
explosion in 2008 which killed at least 100 people. Photograph: George Esiri/Reuters
We reached the edge of the oil spill near the Nigerian village of Otuegwe after a long hike through cassava plantations. Ahead of us lay swamp. We waded into the warm tropical water and began swimming, cameras and notebooks held above our heads. We could smell the oil long before we saw it â€“ the stench of garage forecourts and rotting vegetation hanging thickly in the air.
The farther we travelled, the more nauseous it became. Soon we were swimming in pools of light Nigerian crude, the best-quality oil in the world. One of the many hundreds of 40-year-old pipelines that crisscross the Niger delta had corroded and spewed oil for several months.
Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. “We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots,” said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. “This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months.”
That was the Niger delta a few years ago, where, according to Nigerian academics, writers and environment groups, oil companies have acted with such impunity and recklessness that much of the region has been devastated by leaks.
In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of a major ecological catastrophe caused by oil that has poured from a leak triggered by the explosion that wrecked BP‘s Deepwater Horizon rig last month.
That disaster, which claimed the lives of 11 rig workers, has made headlines round the world. By contrast, little information has emerged about the damage inflicted on the Niger delta. Yet the destruction there provides us with a far more accurate picture of the price we have to pay for drilling oil today.
On 1 May this year a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline in the state of Akwa Ibom spilled more than a million gallons into the delta over seven days before the leak was stopped. Local people demonstrated against the company but say they were attacked by security guards. Community leaders are now demanding $1bn in compensation for the illness and loss of livelihood they suffered. Few expect they will succeed. In the meantime, thick balls of tar are being washed up along the coast.
Within days of the Ibeno spill, thousands of barrels of oil were spilled when the nearby Shell Trans Niger pipeline was attacked by rebels. A few days after that, a large oil slick was found floating on Lake Adibawa in Bayelsa state and another in Ogoniland. “We are faced with incessant oil spills from rusty pipes, some of which are 40 years old,” said Bonny Otavie, a Bayelsa MP.
This point was backed by Williams Mkpa, a community leader in Ibeno: “Oil companies do not value our life; they want us to all die. In the past two years, we have experienced 10 oil spills and fishermen can no longer sustain their families. It is not tolerable.”
With 606 oilfields, the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports and is the world capital of oil pollution. Life expectancy in its rural communities, half of which have no access to clean water, has fallen to little more than 40 years over the past two generations. Locals blame the oil that pollutes their land and can scarcely believe the contrast with the steps taken by BP and the US government to try to stop the Gulf oil leak and to protect the Louisiana shoreline from pollution.
“If this Gulf accident had happened in Nigeria, neither the government nor the company would have paid much attention,” said the writer Ben Ikari, a member of the Ogoni people. “This kind of spill happens all the time in the delta.”
“The oil companies just ignore it. The lawmakers do not care and people must live with pollution daily. The situation is now worse than it was 30 years ago. Nothing is changing. When I see the efforts that are being made in the US I feel a great sense of sadness at the double standards. What they do in the US or in Europe is very different.”
“We see frantic efforts being made to stop the spill in the US,” said Nnimo Bassey, Nigerian head of Friends of the Earth International. “But in Nigeria, oil companies largely ignore their spills, cover them up and destroy people’s livelihood and environments. The Gulf spill can be seen as a metaphor for what is happening daily in the oilfields of Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
“This has gone on for 50 years in Nigeria. People depend completely on the environment for their drinking water and farming and fishing. They are amazed that the president of the US can be making speeches daily, because in Nigeria people there would not hear a whimper,” he said.
It is impossible to know how much oil is spilled in the Niger delta each year because the companies and the government keep that secret. However, two major independent investigations over the past four years suggest that as much is spilled at sea, in the swamps and on land every year as has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico so far.
One report, compiled by WWF UK, the World Conservation Union and representatives from the Nigerian federal government and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, calculated in 2006 that up to 1.5m tons of oil â€“ 50 times the pollution unleashed in the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in Alaska â€“ has been spilled in the delta over the past half century. Last year Amnesty calculated that the equivalent of at least 9m barrels of oil was spilled and accused the oil companies of a human rights outrage.
According to Nigerian federal government figures, there were more than 7,000 spills between 1970 and 2000, and there are 2,000 official major spillages sites, many going back decades, with thousands of smaller ones still waiting to be cleared up. More than 1,000 spill cases have been filed against Shell alone.
Last month Shell admitted to spilling 14,000 tonnes of oil in 2009. The majority, said the company, was lost through two incidents â€“ one in which the company claims that thieves damaged a wellhead at its Odidi field and another where militants bombed the Trans Escravos pipeline.
Shell, which works in partnership with the Nigerian government in the delta, says that 98% of all its oil spills are caused by vandalism, theft or sabotage by militants and only a minimal amount by deteriorating infrastructure. “We had 132 spills last year, as against 175 on average. Safety valves were vandalised; one pipe had 300 illegal taps. We found five explosive devices on one. Sometimes communities do not give us access to clean up the pollution because they can make more money from compensation,” said a spokesman.
“We have a full-time oil spill response team. Last year we replaced 197 miles of pipeline and are using every known way to clean up pollution, including microbes. We are committed to cleaning up any spill as fast as possible as soon as and for whatever reason they occur.”
These claims are hotly disputed by communities and environmental watchdog groups. They mostly blame the companies’ vast network of rusting pipes and storage tanks, corroding pipelines, semi-derelict pumping stations and old wellheads, as well as tankers and vessels cleaning out tanks.
The scale of the pollution is mind-boggling. The government’s national oil spill detection and response agency (Nosdra) says that between 1976 and 1996 alone, more than 2.4m barrels contaminated the environment. “Oil spills and the dumping of oil into waterways has been extensive, often poisoning drinking water and destroying vegetation. These incidents have become common due to the lack of laws and enforcement measures within the existing political regime,” said a spokesman for Nosdra.
The sense of outrage is widespread. “There are more than 300 spills, major and minor, a year,” said Bassey. “It happens all the year round. The whole environment is devastated. The latest revelations highlight the massive difference in the response to oil spills. In Nigeria, both companies and government have come to treat an extraordinary level of oil spills as the norm.”
A spokesman for the Stakeholder Democracy Network in Lagos, which works to empower those in communities affected by the oil companies’ activities, said: “The response to the spill in the United States should serve as a stiff reminder as to how far spill management in Nigeria has drifted from standards across the world.”
Other voices of protest point out that the world has overlooked the scale of the environmental impact. Activist Ben Amunwa, of the London-based oil watch group Platform, said: “Deepwater Horizon may have exceed Exxon Valdez, but within a few years in Nigeria offshore spills from four locations dwarfed the scale of the Exxon Valdez disaster many times over. Estimates put spill volumes in the Niger delta among the worst on the planet, but they do not include the crude oil from waste water and gas flares. Companies such as Shell continue to avoid independent monitoring and keep key data secret.”
Worse may be to come. One industry insider, who asked not to be named, said: “Major spills are likely to increase in the coming years as the industry strives to extract oil from increasingly remote and difficult terrains. Future supplies will be offshore, deeper and harder to work. When things go wrong, it will be harder to respond.”
Judith Kimerling, a professor of law and policy at the City University of New York and author of Amazon Crude, a book about oil development in Ecuador, said: “Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and very few people seem to care.”
There is an overwhelming sense that the big oil companies act as if they are beyond the law. Bassey said: “What we conclude from the Gulf of Mexico pollution incident is that the oil companies are out of control.
“It is clear that BP has been blocking progressive legislation, both in the US and here. In Nigeria, they have been living above the law. They are now clearly a danger to the planet. The dangers of this happening again and again are high. They must be taken to the international court of justice.”
The united states response to such heinous act is to investiage the matters. Really to investigate….. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that there was no need to wait for an investigation of the killings, because in Turkey’s view the raid was illegal under international law because it happened in international waters. “This is a criminal act,” he said. “We don’t need to make an investigation to see this.” But funny enough, The united states never mention any need for investigation when South korea alledgely announced that North korea was responsible of the attack instead, we saw Hilary Cliton -US secreatry of State calling for action against North Korea. USA does not have any morality at all to moralise other nations when it is obvious that the bully countries that are not allies and close their eyes to other heinous criminal act perpetuated by their allies.
Now Turkey has demanded on Tuesday that the United States condemn the deadly Israeli raid on an aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip that ended with Israeli soldiers killing nine activists. Let us see what the United states will do.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters ahead of a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Turkey, an unofficial backer of the flotilla, was disappointed with the Obama administration’s response to the raid.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said later that Davutoglu did not demand a U.S. condemnation in his meeting with Clinton.
“The secretary reiterated during the meeting what she said afterwards, which is we have to have a careful, thoughtful approach to this going forward,” Crowley said.
Another senior Obama administration official said Davutoglu had in fact made plain to the United States his disappointment in the response. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
A Turkish official said that in his meeting with Clinton and a separate meeting with national security adviser James Jones, Davutoglu had asked the United State to convey to Israel that Turkey was preparing measures in response unless Israel moved quickly to release the Turkish citizens held in the raid and return the bodies of those killed, most of whom were believed to have been Turks. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity for a similar reason.
Later, President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The White House said Obama expressed his condolences and was “working in close consultation with Israel to help achieve the release of the passengers, including those deceased and wounded, and the ships themselves.”
Obama also made clear the U.S. support for a credible investigation.
“The president affirmed the importance of finding better ways to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza without undermining Israel’s security,” the White House statement said.
The White House has reacted cautiously, asking for full disclosure of the facts about the raid. The killings have put the administration in an awkward position between two allies at a time that it is trying to refocus Middle East peace talks and win new sanctions against Iran in the United Nations Security Council.
Most of those killed in the raid were believed to be Turks, and Turkey has demanded return of the bodies.
In a sign of the sensitivity of the raid on U.S.-Turkish relations, the State Department closed coverage of the meeting to the press. It had previously scheduled a photo opportunity, a venue in which reporters probably would have tried to ask questions.
Before they met, however, Davutoglu was perfectly open about the message he would convey to Clinton.
“I have to be frank: I am not very happy with this statement from Washington yesterday,” Davutoglu said. “We expect a clear condemnation.”
He said that Turkey, a NATO member, would bring up the issue soon at the security alliance’s council.
“Citizens of member states were attacked by a country that is not a member of NATO,” he said. “I think you can make some conclusions out of this statement.”
Davutoglu said that there was no need to wait for an investigation of the killings, because in Turkey’s view the raid was illegal under international law because it happened in international waters.
“This is a criminal act,” he said. “We don’t need to make an investigation to see this.”
Davutoglu also contrasted his criticism of the United States with praise of the statements by the European Union.
To refresh your memory, Is it not the same United States that lied to us that their intelligence revealed that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and convinced the International community to support them to go for war against Iraq. The world should bite the words coming from United States before chewing. of course now we know from all credible sources that the pictures and images showed to the world on that reporting was a hoax and a sham. It was a deceptive and dubious investigation intended to pursue American war agenda and invasion of Iraq for her oil. It is sad that we have a lot of political journalists that are happy to see wars and disunity among nations and drive joy in causing political tensions among nations.
Please the international community should be careful this time. war is dangerous and must be the last resort if neccesary. Remember that the United States has not come out of the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now they are indirectly gingering South korea for another war. The world should be careful!!!
South Korea should look for another alternatives than to go for war. Most importantly, they should re-evaluate and verify again and again and find out if the sources linking North Korea to the attack is credible and verifiable. . Only when that is established without bias. They should then find other ways to settle their misunderstanding.
It is a normal saying that negotiation and dialogue is better than confrontation. There is power in direct and indirect negotiation and dialogue as Mr. Barack Obama said during his presidential campaign. We all know that United states of America is a warmonger. The world should avoid war. War and Violence does not bring peace but death of civilians and destruction of infrastructure. We call on Interbational Community to institute a new indpendent team to investigate the accusation. Let us avoid war as far as we can because it is destructive..
South Korea â€“ U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday the world must respond to the sinking of a South Korean warship that has been blamed on North Korea.
“This was an unacceptable provocation by North Korea and the international community has a responsibility and a duty to respond,” Clinton told reporters after talks with South Korean leaders.
The ship sinking “requires a strong but measured response,” she said at a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, though did not elaborate.
Clinton said the United States would be consulting with South Korea and members of the U.N. Security Council on what the appropriate action would be, but she declined to offer a timeline.
“We’re very confident in the South Korean leadership, and their decision about how and when to move forward is one that we respect and will support,” she said.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply since a team of international investigators last week concluded that a torpedo from a North Korean submarine tore apart the corvette Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 South Korean sailors. It was one of the South’s worst military disasters since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Clinton spent just a few hours in Seoul discussing possible international responses with South Korean leaders. North Korea denies it was responsible for the incident and has threatened to retaliate if action is taken against it.
Clinton touched down in the South Korean capital Wednesday after intense discussions on the deteriorating situation with Chinese officials in Beijing.
“I believe that the Chinese understand the seriousness of this issue and are willing to listen to the concerns expressed by both South Korea and the United States,” she said Wednesday. “We expect to be working with China as we move forward in fashioning a response.”
China said it was still weighing the evidence over the sinking.
Beijing regards the sinking as “extremely complicated” and has no firsthand information about the cause, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun told reporters in the Chinese capital.
“China is carefully and prudently studying and examining the information from all sides,” he said.
South Korea’s Yu, asked about the possibility of China or Russia blocking action by the U.N. Security Council, said they “will take time, I’m sure, but they will not be able to deny the facts.”
Clinton called the investigation into the sinking “very thorough, highly professional” and “very convincing.” She said both the United States and South Korea had offered China “additional information and briefings about the underlying facts of that event.”
“We hope that China will take us up on our offer to really understand the details of what happened and the objectivity of the investigation that led to the conclusions,” she said.
As Clinton visited Seoul, the two Koreas traded new threats amid rapidly deteriorating relations.
The North’s military said it would block cross-border traffic heading to a joint industrial zone in North Korea if the South does not stop psychological warfare operations. It also vowed to blow up any loudspeakers South Korea sets up to broadcast propaganda northward.
South Korea, meanwhile, accused Pyongyang of taking “menacing” measures and vowed to “deal with these North Korean threats unwaveringly and sternly,” Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said.
Associated Press reporters Sangwon Yoon and Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.
If it seemed too good to be true when Shell Oil proclaimed this week that it was putting an end to its offshore drilling operations in Nigeria, that’s because it was. Monday’s announcement turns out to have been an elaborate hoax, put on by an ad hoc activist group calling itself the Nigerian Justice League.
Established solely for the sake of this con, the group put out a lengthy press release including details of the faux “Comprehensive Shell Remediation Plan for the Niger Delta,” along with phone numbers supposedly for the company’s media relations department — all under the oil giant’s iconic red-and-yellow logo.
The text of the release can be found on the group’s fake Shell website.
Shell is the largest oil producer in Nigeria, a country that holds one of the worst oil safety records on the planet. According to reports, last year alone the West African nation had 2,000 active spills.
George Osodi, File / AP
People evacuate their homes by boat, as they pass smoke and flames billowing from a burning oil pipeline belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company, across the Opobo Channel in Asagba Okwan Asarama, about 31 miles southwest of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, in 2005.
“Shell, Chevron and the others are perpetrating a massive, life-threatening hoax by claiming that they can’t quickly stop their gas flaring, reduce their oil spills and clean up their mess in the Niger Delta,” said Chris Francis, one of the Nigerian Justice League’s organizers. “Our press release revealed the truth: that there is a decent way forward, instead of the continual deceit we get from them.”
The “plan” outlined in the press release had Shell offering up a multibillion-dollar fund to clean the Niger Delta and compensate its inhabitants for loss of livelihood. It further said the company would gradually reduce its oil production in Nigeria to 10 percent of its current output.
A spokesman for Shell, which held its annual meeting Tuesday in the Hague, wouldn’t comment on the press release except to say that “it is a hoax.”
Meanwhile, at least one publication got that news too late.
“Hands up, we were duped on this one,” the Financial Times says in a blog posting
Sambo, whose appointment was ratified on Tuesday by both Houses in the National Assembly, was sworn-in yesterday, thus filling the vacuum created in that institution by formal ascension to the Presidency of his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Considering the political tempest, which accompanied the debacle and dissension over the late President Umaru Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s incapacitation in the context of the politics of succession, Samboâ€™s main role will be that of a stabiliser and balancer of the institution of the Presidency in the unusual times we find ourselves.
Fortunately, Sambo comes to his new turf, not just with the impressive credential of having successfully governed the multi-ethnic and multi-religious state of Kaduna, but also as one who has had diversified and rich experience in several bureaucratic and political positions. His relative anonymity and reticence are ideally suited to an office created as second fiddle and to which the constitution assigns very few specific duties. A more colourful and emphatic political gladiator would probably, in our circumstances, have been inappropriate if not counterproductive, considering President Jonathanâ€™s own placid, but far from colourless mien and disposition.
As is well known, a Vice President in a presidential system where the president is both head of state and head of government, is only as powerful as the President chooses to make him. In the best of circumstances, the Vice President becomes the Presidentâ€™s close confidant and adviser, in the process extending and complementing presidential imprimatur on the national and international terrains. This kind of constructive symbiosis was a hallmark of the former American President, Bill Clintonâ€™s presidency, where Vice President Al-Gore was given charge of several aspects of domestic and international policy, a feature replicated under President George Bush with Vice President Dick Cheney. Here in Nigeria, former President, Olusegun Obasanjoâ€™s first term provided a nice illustration of the rewards of a cooperative relationship between the President and his Vice. The intragovernmental tumult witnessed in his second term was in part a sorry testimonial of the conflictual relationship between himself and his Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
In sum, the constitution mandates the Vice President to work in tandem with the President, who in the final analysis, determines whether the Vice President would be consigned to irrelevance or will constitute a backstage dynamo for extending the creativity and productivity of the President. There is no reason, given the antecedents of the occupants of the highest offices in the land why nice blending rather than factious disagreeableness should not become the defining factor of the Presidency viewed corporately. Working together, the two of them should give Nigeria decent elections in 2011 and make a mark on rolling back our infrastructural and social debilities. Which is to say that in the remaining months between now and handover in 2011, the Vice President could either mark time by indulging in the ceremonies and protocols of his office, or he could, in a purposeful manner, join forces with the President to redeem Nigeria from its current morass of arrested development and electoral misadventures. As we have indicated, for him to make a real difference, he will have to maintain a cordial, but not unduly subservient, relationship with the President.
As he begins his work, he already has his job cut out for him in the sense that the preeminent agendum of the hour is to take the nation smoothly to the next elections and transitions. The emergence of those we may call political titans as aspirants in the race suggests that there is need for an umpire standing above the fray as well as providing a level playing ground for contestants; ensuring, in the process, that the system does not career off-course nor its stability overly threatened.
The Nigerian Compass congratulates the new Vice President and wishes him a successful tenure as he and the President seek to implement their vision for a reinvented Nigeria, while keeping a tight leash on forces and factors that have the potential to torpedo the ship of state.