Nigerian Biotech Experts Met

Biosafety Act reviewWhen Nigerian Biotech Experts Met. If anyone needs sensitisation in Nigeria about GMOs, it is the biotech promoters. They need to be sensitised that Nigerians don’t want GMOs and certainly do not want to be ambushed into eating what they do not want to eat. We have a right to choose what we eat. No one should have anything forced down his or her throat. There are other areas that modern biotechnology can focus on without having to tamper with our food systems in a process that would also introduce toxic chemicals that accompany their herbicide tolerant monocultures.

Three Nigerian ministries had top level representation at the Biotechnology and Biosafety Experts Meeting at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja on 15 August 2016. The Minister and Minister of State for Environment were present. So were the Ministers of Agriculture and Rural Development, as well as the Minister of Science. Interestingly, rather than the Minister of Science making remarks at the opening session of this meeting, he ceded the space to the Director General (DG) of the Nigerian Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA).

In his remarks, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, asked, ‘Who will educate the politicians?’ That quote, he informed the gathering, was from a one-time president of the USA, Richard Nixon.  He then went on to say that genetic engineering is about science but that it had a cloud of fear, doubts, sentiments and political agitation hanging over it. He pointedly stated that at the end of the day ‘science will prevail.’ Probably because his comments were brief, he did not expatiate on what he meant by that statement. He, however, said that the truth lay somewhere between the fears and the facts.

When the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, took the floor she emphasised that the meeting was a starting point from where further conversations would be held and the larger public would have the opportunity to weigh in. She stressed the need to invest in knowledge and to strengthen the nation’s biosafety policy. She also touched on the communication gap between the scientists and the public. According to her, the wide store of indigenous knowledge must not be ignored in the building of broader understanding of the issues at stake. She generally called for healthy debates on the issues.

time-goldenrice-228x300

GMOs Prime poster: 2000 Time Magazine cover

The progress of golden rice is not hampered by Greenpeace but by its failure to deliver on its promoters’ promises.

The outcome of the meeting has been presented to the public as being a plan by the Federal Government to sensitise Nigerians on the benefit of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). To some of us that were at that meeting we would not endorse such a summation. Why do we say so?

The meeting, although jointly called by the three ministries mentioned above, was driven by Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB), a biotech industry (non governmental?) organisation headed by an assistant director in NABDA and deeply embedded in NABDA. Indeed, before the meeting started, a continuous stream of video clips were used to serenade participants with the success stories of GMOs and the wonderful process that gave birth to Nigeria’s National Biosafety Management Act 2015 and the National Biosafety management Agency (NBMA). When the Minister of Science gave way to the Director General of NABDA, she took the stage to sell GMOs to the crowd of mostly converts to the technology. Those of us with strong doubts and who reject modern biotechnology as the panacea for Nigeria food issues were a token sprinkle you could count on the fingers of one hand.

The Director General stated that GMOs started from the time of Adam and Eve in the Biblical Garden of Eden. Imagine modern biotechnology as old as Adam and Eve. She further on cited the roundly discredited letter signed by 109 Nobel Prize laureates that claimed that Greenpeace was hampering the adoption of the so-called Golden or GMO rice engineered for enhanced levels of vitamin A. The truth is that the rice in question is yet a failed project and is not hampered by anyone other than its failure to deliver on its promoters’ promises. The Institute of Science in Society and the Third World Network had this to say of the Golden Rice: The ‘golden rice’ – a GM rice engineered to produce pro-Vitamin A – is being offered to the Third World as cure for widespread vitamin A deficiency.[Our] audit uncovers fundamental deficiencies in all aspects, from the scientific/social rationale well as financially bankrupt agricultural biotech industry. The scientific/social rationalization for the project exposes a reductionist self-serving scientific paradigm that fails to see the world beyond its own narrow confines. The ‘golden rice’ is a useless application. Some 70 patents have already been filed on the GM genes and constructs used in making the ‘golden rice’. It is a drain on public resources and a major obstruction to the implementation of sustainable agriculture that can provide the real solutions to world hunger and malnutrition.

There were three panels, all of which had a paper presenter followed by panel discussions. The first panel was on the Socio-Economic Effects of GMOs and the lead presenter was Prof Ishyaku Mohammed, a key player in the development of GMO beans in Nigeria. The second panel was on Strengthening Biosafety Institutional Framework with Jeremy T. Ouedraogo – Head of NEPAD West African Biosafety Network Regional Office of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise. The third panel looked at Strategies for Effective Education and Communication. The lead presenter here was Prof. Diran Makinde, Senior Adviser, African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE).

Some of us do not accept that nutrition and food security must be manufactured in science laboratories. And we should never forget that Nature is the ultimate scientist. The wise person works with Nature because fights against Nature are not only often futile but could become fatal.

The good thing about this meeting was that there were some voices on the panels speaking up on the known socio-economic, health and environmental dangers of GMOs and citing examples of countries that have banned agricultural/food applications of the technology. The biotech promoters used the platform to characterise food sovereignty campaigners as acting out scripts of supposed funders in exchange for a life of luxury in air-conditioned officers, cars and what not. The response to that was that this was cheap blackmail that would not deter opposition to risky technologies.

In the panel on strengthening biosafety institutional framework, the lead speaker mentioned two errors that National Biosafety laws could fall into were either being too permissive or being too restrictive. A close look at the National Biosafety Management Act 2015 shows that it is highly permissive and was couched for easy entrance of GMOs and related products in Nigeria. We gave examples. First is the fact that the Governing Board of NBMA is populated by biotech promoters, besides the statutory membership of federal ministries. The only slot for NGOs is conditioned on the representative being from a conservation NGO. Membership of the Board includes NABDA, an agency set up to promote GMOs in Nigeria. This agency teamed up with Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Limited to apply and receive permission to conduct confined field trials of two GMO maize events in Nigeria. This shows a clear case of conflict of interest and we duly called for the removal of NABDA from the board of the Biosafety Agency. If NABDA partners with Monsanto we need to be convinced that they are depending solely on funds from the Ministry of Science for the discharge of their duties and that they are working under undue external influences.

Neither farmers nor consumers are represented on the NBMA board. Indeed, the Biosafety Board as presently constituted by the Act can be seen as an old boys’ club. If, as was agreed at this meeting that, the Biosafety Act is basically not to stop GMO, we need to know if it is NBMA’s duty to promote GMOs.

We also stressed that there should be a board that would consider recommendations of the Biosafety Agency before permits for GMOs are granted or rejected. At present decisions by the leadership of the Biosafety Agency with regard to applications are not subject to any form of oversight in the Act. This must be redressed. Recommendations should be subjected to consideration by either the Agency’s Board or preferably by an inter-ministerial committee. It is too risky and utterly dangerous to place the food safety and future of Nigeria into the hands of one person. The GMO approvals given to Monsanto and their partner NABDA, were approved within a few months of the filing of the applications – a record of Olympian proportions.

The present Act allows for the display and receipt of comments on GMO applications to be made within only 21 days. In the case of the approval for Monsanto’s GMO cotton, the application was displayed only at Zaria and Abuja. There was no public hearing or consultation before the approval was given. The Agency was acting as empowered by the clearly deficient Act. This must be rectified to ensure that sufficient time is given for submission of objections/comments and that there are public hearings before decisions are made. Such applications must also be displayed at accessible locations across the nation and where possible in language that the public can understand.

Health of Mother Earth Foundation’s review and comments of the Nigerian Biosafety Act identifies many loopholes that raise red flags about the Act and thus demand action.  http://www.homef.org/sites/default/files/pubs/national-biosafety-act-homef-review.pdf That is the Act that one of the lead presenters declared is so robust it requires no review!

Knowing the trend in development of GMOs – veering towards extreme biotechnology such as gene-editing and what is termed gene drives, scientists are working to overturn nature, avoid the sharing of traits that happens in natural reproduction, and instead pass on a predetermined trait in every reproductive event, to the extent that wiping out species through having offsprings that are of same sex becomes a possibility. The danger in this trajectory is that for some organisms a release of just one engineered individual could wipe out all relatives in the environment over a short period of time. Experiments are ongoing on utilising this technology to fight rats on an island.

If the public requires sensitisation, what is needed is to inform the public about the Biosafety Act, so that Nigerians can judge for themselves whether GMOs are the solution to food shortages in Nigeria. It is also essential so that the public would know their rights or lack of rights in the biosafety administration in Nigeria.

Some of us do not accept that nutrition and food security must be manufactured in science laboratories. And we should never forget that Nature is the ultimate scientist. The wise person works with Nature because fights against Nature are not only often futile but could become fatal.

It cannot be the duty of government to sensitise Nigerians about the desirability of GMOs. Government has a duty to assure Nigerians that we have a sound and truly robust Biosafety Act that they can depend on for environmental and food safety. The biotech promoters should campaign for funding from government to carry out their experiments in their laboratories and continue to build knowledge and expertise. We are fed by smallholder farmers and experts assure that it will remain so into the future. GMOs are not silver bullets that solve all problems. Our farmers need extension services, rural infrastructure and access to markets. We must learn from the failure of GMO cotton in India, Pakistan, Burkina Faso (watch the video) and elsewhere. Having experts make excuse for a failing and risky technology cannot be said to be the best way to do science.

If anyone needs sensitisation in Nigeria about GMOs, it is the biotech promoters. They need to be sensitised that Nigerians don’t want GMOs and certainly do not want to be ambushed into eating what they do not want to eat. We have a right to choose what we eat. No one should have anything forced down his or her throat. There are other areas that modern biotechnology can focus on without having to tamper with our food systems in a process that would also introduce toxic chemicals that accompany their herbicide tolerant monocultures.

 

 

 

Wicked Genes

gene drivesWicked Genes

Have you considered the many techie graveyards littered with DDT, Agent Orange and all?

Peddler of wicked genes, will you slide on gene drives?

Knocking out, annihilating traits and yellowing all fruit flies?

Have you considered the many techie graveyards littered with DDT, Agent Orange and all?

Malaria will not be an excuse for you to unleash wahala on our already broken backs

You create a poison and sell the antidote

You create a virus and market anti-virus

Don’t crush my cultural webs, ecosystems and bio diversities

Just because you can spit in Mother Earth’s face

Trample on Genesis

And flaunt genetically modified technocrats

HIV-AIDS, Ebola, Zika…

Scratch your pouch and unleash some more

We see through your shady genetic scissors, errors and terrors

Your hypothetical benefits drowned in oceans of unquestionable risks

Time it is to break your addiction to crooked technofixes cause our DNA is not for sale,

Nor are we guinea pigs for your gene driven exterminator technologies

Will Ogoni Breathe Fresh Air Again?

todayFive Years after UNEP Report – Will Ogoni Breathe Again?

As the water gushed the smell of petroleum products filled the air. Indeed, one would be right to wonder if he was pumping up petrol. We asked to know what they use the water for. All sanitary needs. Plus, drinking at times. Mind boggling.

August 4, 2016 marks the 5th anniversary of the submission of the report of the assessment of the environment of Ogoniland to former President Jonathan by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report etched for Nigeria and the world, the damning levels of hydrocarbon and other toxic pollutions in Ogoniland. The report more or less indicated that a state of environmental emergency should have been declared in Ogoniland. Nothing much happened, and each passing year, since the submission of the report, has witnessed more groaning and sighing by the people that have no option but to live in the horrendously polluted environment.

The first inkling of action by government was on the eve of the first anniversary of the UNEP report. That was on 24th July 2012 when the government hurriedly cobbled together what was known as the Hydrocarbons Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP). The name was quite anachronistic, but it was aimed at calming nerves of locals who were getting impatient that a year was rolling by with nothing being done with the report that showed that they were living in an environment that was killing them. The first visible actions of HYPREP included the mounting of huge billboards in Port Harcourt denouncing oil theft and tampering with oil pipelines.

While this was going on, the people were drinking water that has been shown to be laced with hydrocarbon pollutants and at places with carcinogenic benzene. They are still drinking such water. On 26th July 2016, after a monitoring training of a team of Ecological Defenders of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) we decided to visit one of the community leaders at Ogale, Nchia-Eleme, Ogoni. Our host turned on his electricity generator and pumped water up from a borehole he had sunk. As the water gushed the smell of petroleum products filled the air. Indeed, one would be right to wonder if he was pumping up petrol. We asked to know what they use the water for. All sanitary needs. Plus, drinking at times. Mind boggling.

Another sign that the recommendations of the UNEP report have been seen by HYPREP is the ubiquitous sign posts in Ogoniland erected at polluted creeks, streams, rivers and boreholes. They all warn citizens not to drink, fish or swim in the contaminated water. Besides the water trucked in by the Rivers State government at that time, the people have largely been left to cater for themselves as best as they can, or to wallow in the toxic waters.

A meeting of rotten oil facilities, oil spills, third party interferences and oil theft give the best example of how to brew environmental disaster. Visits to Bodo, K-Dere, B-Dere, Ogale, Goi and other polluted in Ogoniland literally leaves one breathless. And angry.

Efforts to commence the clean up of Ogoniland took a more determined turn under the current leadership of the Ministry of Environment. To begin with, HYPREP was decoupled from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, a ministry deeply complicit in the polluting of Ogoniland and the rest of the Niger Delta. The project is now domiciled in the Ministry of Environment which should provide a more credible platform for the tasks that need to be done.

The ceremonial flag off of the clean up of Ogoniland (with expected expansion to other highly polluted parts of the larger Niger Delta in mind) took place on 2nd June 2016 at the Numuu Tekuru Waterside, Bodo. Several questions have trailed the ceremonial flag off. Is the government sincere about the exercise? Is there a budget for the clean up? When would the structures to oversee the clean up be set up? What roles would local people play in the exercise? Will this be another avenue for dispensing political patronage?

One of the best responses to the situation has come by way of a briefing prepared by Social Action, titled Cleaning in a Vacuum: Framework Gaps in the Implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoniland (July 2016). The Briefing pointed out among other things that HYPREP did not receive the approval of community and civil society groups because what UNEP recommended was the creation of an Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority whereas HYPREP had a mandate that covered the entire Niger Delta. The embedding of HYPREP in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources did also not gone well with many. Same with the lack of transparency in the operations of HYPREP. Social Action believes that HYPREP would face serious hiccups unless it has an enabling legislation establishing it, especially because the clean up will be a long drawn process transcending many administrations. The group, and other stakeholders, would also like to see a clear roadmap for the planned clean-up.

Some of the issues flagged by Social Action also emerged at the HOMEF training of 26th July 2016 and we quote:

  • There is need for a comprehensive health impact assessment which should detail the health impacts of pollution on people who reside in pollution impacted sites.
  • The process of consultation and sensitization should be intensified and carried on throughout the stages of the clean-up implementation process to ensure that communities understand what each stage entails and what is expected in order to avoid possible confusion and misunderstanding which could result in conflict.
  • Inclusion of all segments of the society, including consideration for women, youths and people living with disabilities in the clean up processes.
  • Clear and verifiable milestones should be established to ensure an active and healthy feedback cycle with all stakeholders.
  • The training of community members to act in different capacities in the clean-up, must be instituted as a critical means of community inclusion.

As yet another anniversary comes, we note that the much vexed issues of reviewing the structure of HYPREP and the setting up of the structures for the clean up have been done. We hope that Ogoni will one day breathe fresh air again.

Super Evacuation Highway

thumb_IMG_1104_1024 2Government says the Superhighway is essential as an evacuation route for the proposed deep sea port on the Atlantic coastline. What we are not told is where the goods (or indeed, what goods) would be evacuated to!

Will the Superhighway be used to evacuate imported goods to Katsina Ala or would it be to evacuate timber from thousands of trees to be felled to destinations outside of Nigeria? That would be the an historic fantastically super-timber-evacuation-highway.

Watch a report back during HOMEF’s forest Community Dialogue at Old Ekuri on 10 June 2016 here: .

Watch Aljazeera’s visit to, Old Ekuri, one of the threatened communities at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BveWIzyCEs

 

Eco-Defenders Resolve to Monitor Ogoni Clean-up

Work

Eco-Defenders Resolve to Monitor Ogoni Clean-Up

On the implementation of the clean-up, the consultative meeting noted that the Federal Government has demonstrated significant commitment in commencing the clean-up of Ogoniland in response to the recommendations of the UNEP Report. The meeting was, however, worried that there were many cases of ongoing pollution in Ogoniland thus making the proposed clean-up rather complicated.

On Wednesday the 26th of July 2016, the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) held a training and consultative meeting for community environmental monitors, with specific emphasis on the planned clean-up of polluted sites in Ogoni. The meeting held at the Aluebo Town Hall, Ogale, Nchia-Eleme, Ogoni. Attendance was mostly from environmental monitors who had previously been identified and trained from the four Ogoni local government areas in Rivers state, as well as civil society activists, community activists and the media.

After presentations and deliberations in plenary and workgroups, the consultative meeting/training noted that the soil, air and water pollution which the people of the Ogoni area have been exposed to have adversely affected crop yield for farmers, fish yield for fisher folks and generally reduced the people’s ability to generate income and provide for their wellbeing. This fact has in turn exposed the community to unprecedented levels of poverty, destitution and deprivation.

The meeting also noted that air, soil and water pollution in Ogoniland has manifested in serious health problems which the people have had to deal with for many years. Some of these challenges ranging from various form of respiratory disorders, heart deficiencies, lung related illnesses, problems with the outer epidermis, reproductive disorders including stillbirths, foetal malformation etc., have not been appropriately studied or documented in any detailed manner.

On the implementation of the clean-up, the consultative meeting noted that the Federal Government has demonstrated significant commitment in commencing the clean-up of Ogoniland in response to the recommendations of the UNEP Report. The meeting was, however, worried that there were many cases of ongoing pollution in Ogoniland thus making the proposed clean-up rather complicated.

The consultative meeting also noted that while the government has held several meetings with various interest groups on the clean-up process, the process of consultation still requires further work. It noted that the multifarious expectations from the clean-up process is evidence that many people expect that process to become something it isn’t, and this could lead to a problem of unrealized expectations, which could seriously undermine the process. Similarly, the meeting noted that structures have not been instituted which makes the people part of the process as monitors of milestones and standards as well as actual agents of the clean-up. The meeting expressed fear that if this is not done, the type of community ‘buy-in’ and ‘ownership’ which is required for a smooth implementation process may be lost.

IMG_2099

Communities should do everything possible and necessary to create the enabling environment- devoid of rancour and conflict – for the smooth implementation of the recommendation of UNEP.

Resolutions

Based on the above, the consultative meeting reached the following resolutions and presents them as recommendations thus:

  1. Residents of pollution impacted sites in Ogoniland should immediately be provided with alternative source of drinking water in line with the emergency measures recommended by UNEP. The people have continued using and drinking water from contaminated sources since 2011 after the UNEP Report was made public.
  1. All ongoing sources of pollution in Ogoniland should immediately be brought to an end. These include active bunkering activities which continues unabated in the Ogoni area; as well as the practice by the Military Joint Task Force of setting tankers impounded with stolen petroleum products on fire. The latter is an emerging major source of air and soil pollution with immediate devastating health impacts.
  1. Given the fact that pollution has continued 5 years after UNEP released its report, it is recommended that the report be updated to reflect current realities. It is believed that the levels of pollution recorded between 2011 and 2016 may have changed the original findings significantly, necessitating a review of the report to establish new and more realistic baselines.
  1. A comprehensive health impact assessment which should detail the health impacts of pollution on people who reside in pollution impacted sites should be carried out. This process will be a first step towards documenting the known and unknown health impacts of hydrocarbon pollution and planning remedial actions.
  1. The process of consultation and sensitization should be intensified and carried on throughout the stages of the clean-up implementation process. This is to ensure that communities understand what each stage entails and what is expected in order to avoid possible confusion and misunderstanding which could result in conflict.
  1. In all stages of the lead-up and actual implementation of the clean-up, care must be taken to ensure that the different components of the stages reflect the inclusion of all segments of the society, including consideration for women, youths and people living with disabilities.
  1. In planning the clean-up, clear and verifiable milestones should be established and done so in such a way that all stakeholders are able to understand each stage of the milestones and when they have been met. This will ensure an active and healthy feedback cycle with all stakeholders.
  1. In establishing milestones, the training of community members to act in different capacities in the clean-up, must be instituted as a critical means of community inclusion. The already established and trained group of Ecological Defenders drawn from the various Ogoni communities should be considered a component of this milestone.
  1. In order to ensure that the clean-up activities enjoy the support of all current and future government establishments, an executive Bill proposing the establishing legal frameworks for the structures and funding of the clean-up process should be immediately sent to the National Assembly for consideration.
  1. Communities should do everything possible and necessary to create the enabling environment- devoid of rancour and conflict – for the smooth implementation of the recommendation of UNEP.

Signed:

Nnimmo Bassey- Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)

Celestine AkpoBari- Ogoni Solidarity Forum

Ken Henshaw- Social Action

Emen Okon – Kabetkache Women Development and Resource Centre

Martha Agbani – Lokiakia Centre

Kentebe Ebiaridor – Oilwatch Nigeria

This is the Report/Resolutions of Ecological Defenders Consultative Meeting and Training held at Aluebo Town Hall, Ogale, Nchia-Eleme, Ogoni on the 26th of July 2016.

What can go wrong has gone wrong

Let the Clean up beginWhat can go wrong has gone wrong

Environmental monitoring is often carried out to ensure that standards are maintained to ensure environmental and human health. In other words, we monitor to ensure that nothing goes wrong, and so that we detect when anything goes wrong. That is the standard idea of environmental monitoring.

In the case of the Niger Delta, the matter is not about what may go wrong; the situation is that everything that can go wrong has already gone wrong. What do you do when what can go wrong has gone wrong? Are we preparing to fight a losing battle? No.

We have chosen the location of this training very carefully. We are gathered in a community whose ground water was found to have 8 cm layer of refined petroleum products floating on it. We are gathered in the territory where UNEP found the water our people drink to be polluted with benzene, a known carcinogen, at a level 900 times above World Health Organisation’s standard. We are gathered here to say that our present must be detoxified and our future must not be poisoned.

Things have gone wrong. Yes. The environment is so polluted that the Niger Delta has gained the unsavoury reputation of being one of the most polluted places on earth. We are saddled with historical, current and continuing oil spills, gas flares and toxic dumps. We have the task of monitoring to ensure that the tide of despoliation is halted. This requires physical observation. It also requires social engineering.

We are the eco-defenders determined to ensure that enough of pollution is indeed enough and now is the time to clean up and stay clean.

Physical observation can be easy when you have the right tools and the right knowledge. It is doable when you know what you are looking out for and how dangerous these could be. In essence, you are spotting the blight and at the same time keeping safe. This is one of the objectives of our monitoring training. We are also training to monitor the process of environmental remediation of Ogoni and the wider Niger Delta environment. When the clean up eventually begins in earnest, we want to be sure that milestones are known and that progress is measured against these milestones. We will keep our sights on national and environmental standards and insist that these are adhered to. We want to be sure that when the environmental is said to have been cleaned that it has been cleaned indeed. This is a key objective of our monitoring trainings.

The social engineering aspect of our training is not physical but is extremely important. It has to do with our mind-set. We have to agree that a clean environment should stay clean. We have to agree that a cleaned up environment stays clean. We have to agree that a clean environment is intrinsically more valuable that receiving cash pay-outs while remaining stuck in the mire. Staying clean is not only good for humans, it is good for other species. And many species have been decimated already and it take some lifetimes for them to recover.

Fish not oilWe must all agree that pollution should not be come from the actions and inactions of any of the stakeholders in the Niger Delta – not the oil companies, not the contractors and not the citizens. Our mind-set must be one that accepts that a polluted environment is a threat to our health and well being as well as those of future generations. This mind-set understands that a clean environment is a living environment and supports life, promotes health, peace and dignity.

That is what monitoring means to us. We are the eco-defenders determined to ensure that enough of pollution is indeed enough and now is the time to clean up and stay clean. Each training is a seed sown for a harvest of a future of hope, a future that thinks beyond today. That is the basis of our commitment. That is the basis of our call to everyone to look beyond today and even beyond tomorrow.

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Welcome words by Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) at the Community Monitoring Training – Fish, Not Oil: Let the Ogoni Clean Up Begin on 26th July 2016 at Ogale Town Hall, Nchia-Eleme, Ogoni

 

 

Eco-Instigator #12’s Home Run

Eco-Instigator #12New edition of your Eco-Instigator is here!

The second quarter of 2016 was a roller-coaster season. Highlights include the continued struggles to save our last remaining rainforests in the Cross River axis of Nigeria. Threatened communities (Edondon, Okokori, Old and New Ekuri) as well as non-governmental organisations have worked to ensure that the proposed Superhighway does not decimate community forests, displace communities and lock in poverty in the resource-rich territory. HOMEF spent three days (9-11th June 2016) in some of the communities, facilitating dialogues and offering training on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as advocacy and ecological/forest defence tool. The collaboration of NGOCE, Peace Point Action, GREENCODE, Lokiaka Community Development Centre and Rural Action for Green Environment was invaluable.

May 10, 12 and 14 were special days for us within the Global Breakfree from Fossil Fuels mobilisations. HOMEF marched and held teach-ins at Oloibiri (Bayelsa State), the site of the first oil well in Nigeria, Bori – Ogoni (Rivers State) and Ibeno on the Atlantic coast of Akwa Ibom State. Nigeria. The events sent strong calls for the clean-up of the Niger Delta and reiterated our call to Keep the Oil in the Ground. Actions in 14 other countries underscored the vital importance of these climate actions. The Breakfree events succeeded because of the strong support of 350.org, Chief Nengi James Foundation, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Social Action, Peoples Advancement Centre, Kabetkache Women Development Centre, Peace Point Action and several others. We bring you reports and photos from the events.

For three days, environmental experts and stakeholders met in Abuja to strategize on what would be the policy direction for environmental governance in Nigeria. We bring you a report from that gathering.

A dark blot on our horizon has been the granting of permits for Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Ltd to introduce GMOs in Nigeria. We bring you a report from a major Biosafety Conference we co-hosted with the African Faith and Justice Network and other groups in Abuja in May 2016. We also bring you statements and essays on the GMO debacle and the continuing struggle to keep the risky, needless, technology off our lands.

In addition, Our Sustainability Academy #07 held at the University of Abuja on 15th June and at LUFASI Nature Park, Lagos on 17th June 2016. We as as Instigators, Hilma Mote of Africa Labour Research Institute and Ruth Nyambura, ace eco-feminist. They examined the climate change COP21 with the perspectives of the youths, geo-politics and continental challenges. Both instigators became HOMEF Fellows at a ceremony at LUFASI Nature Park, with foremost environmentalist, Desmond Majekodunmi, presenting their fellowship plaques.

The clean up of Ogoni and the Niger Delta was flagged off on 2nd June 2016. That date became a clear milestone in the struggles for the remediation of our extremely polluted Niger Delta. HOMEF was there when it happened. And we are keeping a deeply interested watch over developments in that direction.

As usual we serve you poetry, book reviews and books we suggest that you read. And, do not forget that we are always happy to hear back from you.

Read the full issue here: Eco-Instigator#12

Until Victory!