Oloibiri, Nigeria’s first oil well community, laments neglect

The community members called on the Federal Government to develop the area.

Oloibiri, the community that hosted Nigeria’s first oil well in 1956, has called on the Federal Government to end their years of neglect.

The spokesperson for the Bayelsa community, Amangi Daniel, said this on Wednesday in Ogbia during the visit of MJay Naidoo, a former Minister of Development in South Africa to Oloibiri oil well.

Mr. Daniel said that it was regrettable that “the area has nothing to show for its historic role in the nation’s economy”.

He said that several promises by past administrations to develop the area and give it a befitting status had remained unfulfilled.

The spokesperson, who narrated the history of the community with oil exploration, said that the relics and pollution associated with oil exploration were still evident within the community.

He said that despite the peaceful disposition of the community that led to uninterrupted oil production for several decades, development had eluded the community.

Mr. Daniel said that even Shell, which struck oil in the area, had also abandoned the well.

In response Mr. Naidoo said that he was in the country to see and feel the pulse of the Niger Delta communities as well as assess the level of development in the region.

The former minister was accompanied on the trip by environmentalist, Nnimmo Bassey and the Country Director of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Larry Umunna.

Mr. Naidoo said that the visit was an eye opener.

He said interactions with segments of the society in the oil bearing communities showed that the people had not benefitted enough from the oil industry.

“I had expectations to see the benefits of oil wealth on the people who sit on the huge oil reserves.

“I was both disappointed and shocked to find out that the people still faced basic developmental challenges and environmental pollution caused by oil spills.

“I am also surprised at the high frequency of oil spills and the degree of prominence given to the spills in the media as opposed to the prominence given to smaller spills in the developed countries.

“I believe that the communities should organise and seek further assistance from the United Nations as well as draw the attention of shareholders of oil multinational firms to the negative impact of their operations on the people,” Mr. Naidoo said.

In his comments, Mr. Bassey said that the task of cleaning up the Niger Delta environment was paramount as the environment supports life and guarantees the right to life.

He said that the emphasis by the political class on infrastructure and neglect of environment was misplaced.

Mr. Bassey said a clean environment was a necessary foundation in planning for infrastructure.

He urged the government to integrate environmental issues into political discourse to ensure that they become priority in the three tiers of government.


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