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Living with Oil: We the People Presents Finding of Research on Impacts of Oil Extraction on Communities

Following extensive research conducted by We the People on the negative impacts of oil extraction on communities of the Niger Delta, a validation town hall meeting was held in Port Harcourt on the 23rd of August, 2021. The meeting which brought together stakeholders from various oil and gas producing communities across the region, featured narratives and experience sharing sessions dwelling largely on impacts of oil extraction. According to members of oil producing communities, the over 6 decades of oil extraction in the region had bequeathed a legacy of livelihood loses, conflicts and destitution. Among the key negative impacts of oil extraction, the following were highlighted;Oil pollution which has destroyed most of the rivers, swamps and creeks in the region, has also resulted in massive livelihood loses. Being traditionally farmers and fisher folks, the pollution of the water bodies through oil spills has meant that the traditional livelihood sources of the people has been eroded, leading to widespread poverty and destitution. There has also been increased respiratory system related health hazards occasioned by the continued flaring of gas. While gas flaring has been illegal in Nigeria since 1979, all oil companies operating in the region continue the unhealthy and wasteful practice which is known to poison and compromise the health of community people.The need to suppress community dissent engendered by the challenges occasioned by oil extraction has resulted in state sanctioned acts of repression in the Niger Delta region. Military operations have become normal practice in communities of the region, resulting in widespread abuses and stifling of community dissent. Examples of these abound all over the region including in Umuechem, Ogoni, Rumuekpe, Udoda, etc. where killings by law enforcement to protect oil extraction has taken place. The town hall meeting equally explored the rising cases of oil company divestment from the region without necessary remediation of the years of negative impacts in those places. Finding of the research by We the People will be published in a report.