Sweet Crude of the Niger Delta

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ODIOMA, NIGERIA: A villager walks through the ruins of the southern Nigerian community of Odioma, a fishing and trading centre, and a historic centre for the Ijaw people in the oil-rich Niger Delta. It was burned to the ground on 19 February 2005 by government troops hunting a local militia leader accused of ordering the murder of 12 people from a neighbouring village during a dispute over the ownership of the proposed site for a new oil well.
ODIOMA, NIGERIA: A villager walks through the ruins of the southern Nigerian community of Odioma, a fishing and trading centre, and a historic centre for the Ijaw people in the oil-rich Niger Delta. It was burned to the ground on 19 February 2005 by government troops hunting a local militia leader accused of ordering the murder of 12 people from a neighbouring village during a dispute over the ownership of the proposed site for a new oil well.

The production of oil provides a convenience to the lives and economies of a large population of the world while enriching the multinational oil companies who will have use believe they conduct their businesses in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

For some the production of oil brings about abject poverty, depravity, injustice, violence and a polluted and hazardous living environment where generations have been deprived of an ecosystem that once provided them a livelihood. The people of the Nigerian Niger Delta are such a group. For years they have endured the invasion of their land by multinational oil companies, who were reckless in their methods of oil exploration, and a brutally corrupt military government reluctant to enforce proper environmental regulations. Years of peaceful demonstrations by the people of the Niger Delta were met by injustice and violence dished out by the government to prevent any disruptions to the oil multinational’s activities. One of the most high profile cases of the then military government’s brutality was the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa, an author and environmental activist, in 1995. “Saro-Wiwa led a nonviolent campaign against environmental degradation of the land and natural waters of Ogoniland by the operations of multinational oil companies, especially Shell” (wikipedia).

Niger Delta oil pollution
Niger Delta oil pollution

The actions of the government and oil companies resulted in some people, misguidedly, taking up militancy. Turning the region into a precarious state, with increasing unrest, sabotage of oil facilities, kidnappings and fighting between the militants and the Nigerian military. Caught in the middle are the people that live in the Niger Delta.

I wonder if faced with the same situations the people of the Niger Delta have endured for years would you have the resolve to carry on hoping for justice one day or would you be tempted to join the militants. Thankfully you don’t have to, but you can help raise awareness of the plight of the people of the Niger Delta. You can start by findout more, sharing this within your network and going to see the film Sweet Crude.

“Sweet Crude is a documentary film about the Niger Delta of Nigeria and the humanitarian, environmental and economic devastation there in the wake of 50 years of oil extraction – and the opportunity for the international community to do something. The film also raises broader issues of oil politics, mass media agendas and the role of independent journalists in getting the truth out” (Sweet Crude Facebook page).

Article by Olu Fashakin

Find out more about Sweet Crude at http://www.sweetcrudemovie.com/

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