Oil giants, the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, has come under attack, for failing to find a lasting solution to the spill from one of its pipelines in the Apoi community, in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Some of the natives said since last year when the spill occured, Agip had adopted a divide and rule tactics in handling the situation, while the generality of the people contiued to suffer.
For instance, Chairman of Apoi Council of Chiefs,Chief Kemela Godpower said '' we have been suffering neglect and abandonment for long. All what we have seen from government was far back in 1980, from the Shargari administration, through Chief Melford Okilo [as Governor of Old Rivers State].
“That administration brought us electricity, joining Apoi,Ukubie and Lobia. It functioned for about two years and, since then till now; we have been denied electricity. We have been denied amenities. The other thing Apoi has gotten from government not long ago, was a four-classroom block and Headmaster's quarters.
“These are the only things we have got from government. Apoi community has no light, no portable water, no health facility [a private health centre was operating in our community townhall until when the Townhall got bad, that was the end]. For the past 10-15 years, we have been without health centre. About 15 years ago, the European Union led MPP3 brought a water project here. After completion of that water project, we used it just for about three months and it packed up [developed fault].
“Since then we have resorted to the river as our only source of drinking. And, the river too have suffered pollution, occasioned by oil spills from Shell Seibou facility [from Ogboinbiri] and recently from Agip here in Apoi.
“Unfortunately, up till now Agip has neither cleaned up the spill nor paid us compensation in connection with the spill. These are some of our predicaments. We have not got any help from the government, not even from the company till now.
“As per Agip, since its existence in our environment,from 1980 we have no staff working with the company; no scholarship for our children. The company only brought us one townhall and jetty project, nothing more''.
Agip General Manager, District [GMD]; Mr. Marco Rodondi, Agip, however holds a contrary view. In an electronic mail he sent to the Environmental Rights Action, ERA, which queried the company's handling of the spill, he said “as you are aware, this spill caused us a lot of headaches due to intercommunity clashes between two factions that impeded the access to site and severally delayed repair and clean-up operations.
We commenced cleanup of the spill with an initial recovery phase, right after the leak by recovery as much as possible of free oil.
The second phase of the clean-up activity, being carried out by Fakpo Services was severally stopped by Faction B Faction B of the community was insisting that the contract be awarded to Charlie JS and Sons Limited, a contractor that did not have the requisite regulatory certification for the provision of Oil spill cleanup services. This substantially delayed further cleanup effort.
“We carried out a joint monitoring of the cleanup site with government regulatory agencies and the community representatives (including Vice Chairman of the community) on 28/03/2018 and the contractor is on site to conclude the clean-up .
“We also wish to inform you that compensation has been paid to the community through Ebieri Global Concept Nigeria Limited to whom they donated a power of attorney for the payment.
The payment was made in February of this year. Therefore, we totally reject this false allegation regarding the payment. I really thank you for the opportunity to clarify the situation''
Mr Alagoa Morris, ERA representative however believed that “there is need for the Bayelsa State government to collaborate with Federal Government interventionist agencies like Niger Delta Development Commission and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to establish a functional, standard science laboratory.
“This is with a view to make it easier for our communities and other individuals affected in connection with water, land and air pollution to get samples analyzed. This is very critical because it will assist all stakeholders, Cleanup contractors, impacted communities and oil companies concerned. It is unfortunate that 56 Barrels of spilled Crude oil has not been accounted for in connection with this spill; after 124 Barrels had been recovered from a total volume of 180 Barrels.”