The Nigerian Blogger
Speaking Truth to the change we need

The two Faces of an Oil spill.

The BP oil spill off the coast of Mexico has dominated headlines across the world for weeks. How and when would BP stop the spill? And how well will technology in the field of oil and gas exploration respond to this great challenge.

The top hat, the relief well; are terms that have made their way into the vocabulary of most curious observers of the spill, as the try to grapple with the enormous environmental, economic and psychological damage, the spill brought to the gulf coast.

But somewhere far away, thousands of miles away in the marshes of the Niger Delta in the West African country of Nigeria. An oil spill that occurred years ago and continues to happen daily, and has damaged the vast vegetation consisting of mangrove forests, brackish swamps, rain forests and swamp forests, is nothing but a forgone story. A story which has been swept under the carpet by greedy government and oil  executives acting in cohort.

President Obama came under serious criticism for not doing enough to hold BP accountable in the days and weeks after the spill, but even with all that criticism he still got BP to agree to set aside 20 billion dollars in a escrow fund to be independently managed and given to victims of the spill.

Contrast that with Nigeria’s Niger Delta one of the most oil-polluted places on the planet with more than 6,800 recorded oil spills, accounting for anywhere from 9 million to 13 million barrels of oil spilled, but the delta has not gotten the attention in terms of finance and support it needs to rebuild the livelihood of thousands it destroyed. The Oil spill in the Niger Delta dwarfs the oil spills of both Exxon Valdez and the recent BP spill combined but yet our government an leaders are continually silenced by American dollars.

BP, if it had a choice would not have shelled out all this money to restore its credibility as a viable multinational corporation, but it had no choice. The pressure from the US government and public was unimaginable and they had to act. The Nigerian government and officials who are overseeing the recovery of the Niger delta are a bunch of corrupt people who allowed the oil executives the liberty of not taking full responsibility and restoring the Niger delta to the state it was before the spill. Millions were shelled out in kickbacks and bribes and the oil companies abandoned the delta like a sore wound. They left the people out hanging to dry.

The discord and disenchantment in the delta has borne a new set of challenges. Feeble minds and idle youths have been recruited to militancy. The Niger delta is agog with lawlessness and is revolting against the government and oil companies. Kidnappings and blown up oil rigs and platforms are the order of the day. Can you blame these youths, or has the government and oil executives contributed to this uprising? That is  story for another day.I have been to the Niger delta, the stench, poverty and oil sleek on the water are very bad. Yet this area accounts for most if not all of Nigeria’s wealth.

The risks of oil drilling can never be eliminated, but when these accidents occur whether it be man-made or natural disasters. Those in authority should take responsibility for fixing the problem and ameliorating the sufferings of the common man.The recent handling of the BP oil spill and how the Niger delta catastrophe has been handled over the years underscores the disconnect between the Nigerian government and the people of the delta.

It also says alot about how the oil companies will react to an accident. If they feel pressure to do the right thing they will, but if not the will throw a few dollars here and there as bribe and they will continue as if nothing ever happened.

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