News / Africa

    Nigeria to Launch Environmental Cleanup

    FILE - Men walk in an oil slick covering a creek near Bodo City in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, June 10, 2010.
    FILE - Men walk in an oil slick covering a creek near Bodo City in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, June 10, 2010.
    Peter Clottey

    Nigeria plans a massive cleanup in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, where some residents complain that years of poorly regulated petroleum production have taken a toll on vegetation, water quality, farmland and fishing communities.  

    Alhaji Ibrahim Usman Jibril, minister of state for environment, said President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to resolving the country’s environmental challenges while creating jobs and ensuring sustainable development.

    As evidence of that commitment, Jibril noted Buhari created two cabinet positions for the sector. Amina Mohammed is the minister for the environment.

    The environment ministry has started a sensitization program in Rivers and Bayelsa states, after meeting with governors and community members. Residents said oil spills have devastated vegetation, polluted water and destroyed their livelihoods.

    “This pollution has been going for more than 40 years,” Jibril said, predicting the new program “will go on probably for the next 20 years. He said the government would strengthen the regulatory agency charged with controlling oil spills.

    Communities in the southern part of Nigeria face environmental challenges including coastal degradation; climate change, which has led to a sea-level rise; and the destruction of mangroves through coastal erosion.

    Cleanup and penalties

    A 2007 U.N. environment report strongly recommended cleaning up the entire Niger Delta region and its oil-polluted Ogoniland. The report also urged that polluters pay for damages.

    Shell Oil Co., a division of Royal Dutch Shell, admitted blame for oil spills in Ogoniland. But it vowed to withhold money from a restoration fund set up last year by Buhari until the Nigerian government put in place structures that “are robust and will be overseen correctly,” a Shell spokesman last year told The Guardian news organization.   

    Jibril said the government encouraged the community to back efforts to clean up the polluted areas.

    “This is a multibillion-dollar project. The damage done to the environment is enormous. Livelihoods are lost, farmlands are lost, the fishing communities have lost the means of their livelihoods, the creeks are contaminated, and there [is] no good drinking water,” Jibril said. “These are challenges that the ministry of environment has to face in one part of the country.”

    “What we are concerned about now is that the companies will have to pay, and there is money kept aside for that as recommended by the U.N. report,” Jibril said, noting the report “is seen as gospel in the Niger Delta.”

    He said cleanup efforts would begin in Ogoniland and then move “to other parts of the Niger Delta that are equally or more seriously polluted.”

    Jibril said regulatory enforcement is at least as important as the cleanup. “Once the cleaning is started, it has to stay clean,” he said, noting the government would hold companies “responsible and ensure that they pay for the cleaning.”

    Environmental activists have criticized successive Nigerian governments for consorting with oil companies, which they accuse of polluting water and farmland as well as devastating communities in areas of heavy oil production.

    Oil companies have not been held accountable, activists say, with government officials failing to impose fines for environmental damage.

    You May Like

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora