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MY PEOPLE ARE DYING By Gersh Ogbuluijah

I woke up early this morning intending to write a small opinion about the next possible “war” in the Niger Delta after the Avengers may have been settled. This, in my opinion, will be a war for the environment. That will however be a story for another day.

In researching for that story, it occurred to me to look up the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland. What I discovered almost killed me, and I am not kidding.
I come from a village in Andoni Local Government Area that is downstream of the Shell oil fields of Bodo. I had always known that, just as with third-party smoking, my people must be suffering some collateral damage from all the environmental wahala that SPDC has bestowed the Ogonis with, but i was not prepared for what i found in the report.

Chapter 4 of the UNEP report deals with the Assessment of Vegetation, Aquatic and Public Health Issues. Table 38 on page 173 of the Report details the 27 locations from where surface water samples were taken during the investigation of the total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) in the water. Three of those sampling locations were in and around Ataba, my community. I was shocked to see that two of those three locations had the highest values of TPH in the whole report (7,420 ug/l and 2880 ug/l). The nearest values to these are those og Kolgba 2350 ug/l and Bodo 2030 ug/l.
The same chapter also has a table for the concentration of hydrocarbons on sediments; and again Ataba made the list of sampled locations which value exceeds the legal limits set in EGASPIN (Environmental Guidelines And Standards for the Petroleun Industry in Nigeria). While EGASPIN specifies a threshold of 5,000mg/kg, the value for Ataba is 8,630mg/kg.
This is what explains the fact that sometimes when we eat shellfishes like periwinkles or bivalves, we get the taste of kerosene,

I have always known “Shell oil” as we call oil spills in our local parlance, right from childhood. It has always been with us. With the possible carcinogenic effect of these hydrocarbons, it is not surprising that there are more incidents of inexplicable deaths resulting from the gradual accumulation of these toxins in the organisms we eat and thus in us.

Our village witches are being wrongly targeted. My people have been dying, and are still dying. We hope that the UNEP Report will address all these issues and rescue the village witches.

PS: Sorry guys if this sounds like chewing gravel. I wish i could have made it less technical

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