Communique issued at the end of a 2-day workshop organized by Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and the Federal Ministry of Environment held at the Suanu Finimale Nwika Conference Centre, Bori-Ogoni, Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, 6-7 August, 2014.
A 2-day workshop organized by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Environment and with the support of Ogoni Solidarity Forum (OSF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the theme “Women and Ogoni Environment: Memories and Hope; Ogoni Women as Ecological Defenders” was held on 6-7 August 2014 at Bori-Ogoni. It had women interrogating the fact that the UNEP report on the Assessment of the Ogoni Environment had not been implemented full three years after its release. The women also considered methods of environmental monitoring, networking, ecological defense and ensuring re-source democracy.
1. The workshop took stock of life before oil in Ogoni and now that Ogoniland has suffered so much degradation and deprivation.
2. The women lamented that oil exploration by Shell in Ogoni has greatly impoverished the people with heavy pollution of their land and waters and resulting destruction of their livelihoods as farmers and fishermen.
3. The noted thet the UNEP report raised serious alarm over pollution of Ogoni land and agreed that the health of Ogoni women and elders have been greatly impacted by the ecological impunity. They listed infertility, infant and maternal mortality, diabetes, cancer, stroke, blindness, respiratory diseases and shortened life expectancy among others as direct consequences of the pollution.
4.The women condemned in particular the attempt to sidetrack the UNEP recommendations by establishing the anomalous Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Programme (HYPREP) without any legal backing and without a clear mandate instead of establishing an Ogoni Environmental Restoration Authority and a matching fund.
5. They also regretted that three years after the report confirmed that their water bodies have been criminally contaminated with cancer causing agents they were still forced to depend of such water sources for drinking, bathing and other uses.
They condemned continued attempts to grab remaining land for commercial agriculture without the consent of the people.
Resolutions and Demands
After two days of consultations, paper presentations and dramatization, poetry and songs, the women resolved and demanded the following:
1. The immediate and full implementation of UNEP Report including the scrapping of HYPREP, establishment of an Ogoni Environment Restoration Authority, Ogoni Environment Restoration Fund as well as a Centre of a Excellence for environmental monitoring and remediation.
2. Immediate provision of safe drinking water in all impacted communities.
3. Immediate commencement of cleanup of Ogoni environment as well as other polluted areas of the Niger Delta.
4. That oil in Ogoniland should remain under the ground while compensation paid for harm suffered.
5. The creation of employment opportunities and establishment of a specialist health institution in Ogoniland to address the health impacts of the pollution in the land.
6. That an end be put to further contamination and seizure of scare their lands.
The women also resolved to form a network of Ogoni Women Ecological Defenders (OWED) to network with other community based organisations in Nigeria and to monitor, speak up and work for environmental justice in Ogoniland. They will also monitor and regularly review actions taken with regard to the UNEP recommendations for the restoration of the Ogoni environment.
They commended Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and Ogoni Solidarity Forum (OSF) for sustained interest in fighting for environmental justice in Ogoni. They also commended the Federal Ministry of Environment and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the co-hosting and supporting the workshop respectively.
Present at the workshop were Assistant Director (GEF), Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs Hallima Kolo Mohammed (represented by Esther Uduak Okon), Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Health Foundation (HOMEF); Coordinator, Food Sovereignty Programme, Friends of the Earth Africa, Marian Bassey Orovwudje, Leader, Host Community Network (HoCoN) and Akalaka Project, Comrade Che Ibegwura; HRH Chief Mene Suanu Baridam, President of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Legborsi Pyagbara; Celestine AkpoBari of Ogoni Solidarity Forum (OSF), Hilda Dokubo, Nollywood Actress and Executive Director of Centre for Creative Arts Education (CREATE); Executive Director, Kebetkache Women Development Resource Centre, Emem Okon, and Deputy managing Editor, National Point Newspaper, Constance Meju. Over 300 Ogoni women drawn from the four local government areas of Ogoni were in attendance.