Niger Delta Women protests IOCs divestment without cleanups

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By Eunice Nnachi, Yenagoa

Women from the Niger Delta region have protested against international oil companies’ (IOCs) planned divestment in the region without addressing environmental cleanup and restoring affected communities’ livelihoods.

At a rally held in Ogbia Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, the protesting women carried signs such as “Women say no to irresponsible divestment” and demanded that IOCs properly clean contaminated sites and reinstate lost economic opportunities.

The women expressed concerns over the rapid pace of divestments, noting that the federal government had not established guidelines to resolve pollution issues.

They emphasized that the communities should be informed about the new companies acquiring the assets and rejected attempts by IOCs to evade responsibilities while selling assets.

The group also called upon the federal government to compel divesting multinationals to clean all polluted sites and restore lost livelihoods. Additionally, they suggested that state governments seek legal intervention to prevent asset sales if their demands are not met.

According to the women, “the communities are deeply concerned about the swift nature of these divestment plans, as the government has not provided guidelines to ensure resolution of pollution issues.”

They insisted that as stakeholders in the Niger Delta women do not have adequate knowledge of the status of the new companies acquiring the assets of the oil companies and called on the Federal Government not to approve the sale of the companies until the polluted farmlands are cleaned up and restored.

“The divestment is not in the interest of the community people,” the women added and condemned the attempt by the international oil corporation to shirk responsibility under the guise of selling assets.

They therefore called on the Federal Government to mandate multinational oil companies divesting to commit to cleaning all polluted sites in the Niger Delta and restore the lost livelihood of the people.

“We vehemently reject irresponsible divestment and demand that the state governors obtain a court injunction to halt sale of any assets related to this matter,” they declared.”

Mrs. Esther Orubo, chairperson of Otuabagi Women Development Initiative, highlighted the need for the federal government to postpone the divestment plans until the legitimate concerns of the local communities are fully addressed.