Target: Goodluck Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Goal: Reduce oil spillage and improve cleanup efforts in the Niger Delta region.
In the wake of the annual deluge of oil spills in the Niger Delta region, the local environment and its people must face the dark consequences of a world dependent on fossil fuel consumption. Every year, the rivers become stagnant and lifeless. Locals become ill, sometimes fatally, from contaminated water and soil. The fishing industry cannot sustain itself. Oil companies offer compensation, but only if it can be proven that it was their oil that soiled the fishing waters. Nigeria’s government must stop this perverse exploitation of the environment and the people who inhabit it by requiring improved safety measures to reduce oil spills and stricter cleanup policy to alleviate oil spill impact.
Nigeria exports more oil than any other African country at 2.5 million barrels per day. Most of this oil comes from the Niger Delta. Eighty percent of the country’s national revenue is drawn from sales of crude oil. Clearly, oil companies are an integral part of Nigeria’s modern economic wellbeing and will not budge from that post any time soon. But what can change and what needs to change are the measures taken to ensure the safety of local environments and peoples.
Last year, Royal Dutch Shell’s operational failures resulted in twice as much oil spillage than the previous year, a destructive 6,000 tons of oil flowing into the Delta region. Coupled with spills from other companies like Chevron, Exxon-Mobile and Total, the Niger Delta faces an onslaught of oil spills annually. According to a study by the United Nations Environment Program, an oil spill in the Niger Delta leaves water with 900 times more carcinogens above what is safe to drink. Needless to say, the environmental and cultural repercussions have been devastating.
The diverse habitat of the Niger Delta has endured massive reductions in unique plant and animal populations. As the biodiversity of the land suffers so do the people who depend on that land. Local communities who use the rivers for bathing, drinking and fishing have no alternative water source other than these now oil ridden waters. Little help can be given to someone who becomes sick after drinking or bathing in oil rich waters as hospitals and medicinal resources are few and far between. The life span of Nigerians is already twenty years below the global average, and in the Niger Delta region, that number is even smaller.
A dying environment and a suffering people have led to more vocal outcries against the Nigerian government and threats of uprising if a better effort is not made to clean the region and prevent future spillage. The Nigerian government has a sovereign duty to protect the livelihood of its Niger Delta communities. To prevent any violent outbursts and to stop the environmental and cultural devastation, the government must hold oil companies accountable for their spills and, most importantly, enforce improved regulations which reduce the reoccurring spillages and the extent of their pollutive impact.
Dear President Goodluck Jonathan,
As Africa’s largest exporter of oil, Nigeria has the greatest duty to conduct business in a safe and environmentally conscious manner. The Niger Delta region has suffered decades of annual oil spills from the many oil companies utilizing the land. As the environment becomes more and more compromised, so do the livelihoods of those people who depend on it.
Oil companies will continue to flock to your country for many years in the future. Implementing stricter safety measures and cleanup policies will do nothing to drive interest away from these oil rich lands. What it will do, however, is give the people who are bathing in oil-sodden rivers, fishing for oil stricken fish and dying from oil related illnesses, hope that this is not just the inevitable reality of their circumstances.
You must provide your citizens with the opportunity to enjoy a healthy environment and lifestyle, unburdened by the world’s need for fossil fuels. Hear their calls for clean rivers and farm land, and save the Niger Delta region from environmental massacre. Use your leverage as an oil rich country and demand that oil companies invest more in safety and cleanup efforts if they are to continue harvesting this valuable natural resource.
[Your Name Here]