Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), said oil exploration by multinational companies was a major contributor to environmental warming and climate change effects in Nigeria.
Coordinator of the organisation, Mr Nnimo Bassey, stated this on Sunday at an environmental awareness campaign tagged “Break Free 2016” in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom.
He said that exploitation of crude oil and flaring of gas had destroyed the ecosystem thereby causing environmental warming in the country.
“We can break free from fossil fuel; we cannot keep on burning fossil fuel and the oil companies knew many years ago that oil extraction causes global warming,” Bassey said.
He said that the spread of chemical in the ocean during oil spills had affected fishing activities in the parts of the country.
According to him, the polluted water has affected the quality and quantity of fish in the ocean.
“It is happening in 15 countries around the world; everybody is saying the use of crude oil, the use of crude, the use of gas is destroying the planet.
“It makes the planet to change, everywhere is hot; it is because when oil is burning, it pollutes the air as the weather is changing,” Bassey said.
He alleged that a scientific study sponsored by a multinational in the area had proved that oil exploration was detrimental to human health and the environment.
“They paid scientists to hide the information so that they can make profits in dollars now that the information is coming out in the USA,” Bassey alleged.
He called on the multinational companies to the leave the oil in the soil, saying that 80 per cent of the chemical kept in the soil had polluted the ocean.
Also speaking, Executive Director, Peace Point Action (PPA), another NGO, Mr Umo Isua-Ikoh, said that residents of oil-bearing communities were suffering from respiratory and skin diseases.
Ikoh attributed the situation to breathing of poisonous gases emitted into the air through oil exploration and extraction activities in the area.
He said that the objective of the awareness campaign was to stop the impunity committed in the Niger Delta by the oil multinational companies.
“If we are sincere about doing our part to fight climate change, then we must leave the oil and gas in the soil,” Ikoh said.
He said that oil and gas companies were sacrificing peoples’ lives and future of children “at the altar of profit’’ and that governments in the country had “unfortunately, become their bedfellows’’.
“Our roofs top wear and tear very fast because of acid rain. Companies around continue to flare gas with impunity in spite of several targets to end gas flaring.
“We want to see an end to gas flaring in the Niger Delta region,” Ikoh emphasised.
He claimed that though Akwa Ibom had been the highest oil producing state in Nigeria, it had the worst socio-economic indicators in the Niger Delta.
According to him, oil wealth does not directly translate to wealth and sustainable development for the people.
“The truth is that oil and gas exploration and production has left in its wake only environmental disaster, time bomb, poverty, disease and conflict in the region,” Ikoh said.
In his remarks, a former Chief Medical Superintendent in the state, Dr Charles Abakam, decried the state of devastation of the environment in Ibeno Local Government Area by oil extraction activities.
Abakam said that people living in an environment where oil was exploited had the tendency to develop prostate cancer.
He said that apart from destroying the ecosystem, oil exploration was injurious to the health of the people in the oil producing areas and called for cessation of oil extraction.