SOOT CRISIS IN RIVERS STATE: Failure of the Capitalist Government and the Exploitation of the Oil Co
SOOT CRISIS IN RIVERS STATE: Failure of the Capitalist Government and the Exploitation of the Oil Companies
By Daniel Akande
According to reports, while residents of River States nay the Niger Delta region have helplessly become used to multiple oil spills which have damaged livelihoods and farmlands, they are currently facing a new kind of danger which is soot, black particles in the air. Since November 2017, residents of Port Harcourt have been experiencing increasing level of soot residue on surfaces in and out of their homes.
The response of the Wike-led Rivers State government, the Buhari-led federal government and the multinational companies to the soot crisis has been largely nonchalant. The Ministry of Environment, both at the state and federal levels, should also do whatever is required to help the state overcome this problem. A pollution of such degree should be properly attended to before more harm is done to the environment and the people in the affected areas.
Air pollution constitutes a serious health hazard. According to WHO, the combined effects of ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution cause about 6.5 million premature deaths every year, largely as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections. Soot is a poisonous sub-micron particulate matter emanated from the activities of the oil and gas exploration. The capitalist ruling class and their multinational Companies do not have interest in ensuring a better and pollution free environment. They are only interested in of the profit that they will be made at the expense of poor and working people.
There have been a series of campaign in some Niger Delta states against the unfriendly environment activities by some industries and the need for environmental protection, most especially in an oil producing region.
To add salt to injury the government left the public healthcare in total mess and completely unable to respond to health challenges. But the capitalist ruling class elements travel abroad to undertake expensive treatment. Despite huge oil revenues accruing to the federal and state governments basic infrastructure are largely missing or in dilapidated state
The fact is that most parts of the oil producing areas have been rendered unsuitable for any economic activity except oil exploration and exploitation. Farmlands and water are polluted by oil exploration and thus rendered farming and fishing, the traditional occupation of the local people, useless. Worse still, there are no alternative jobs to engage the people. Therefore, most young people are unemployed and thus a rich source of militants who have engaged the Nigerian state and oil multinationals in armed struggle.
SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE TO ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION
Trade union, community people and working people should organize and sustain a series of mass actions to demand an immediate action to be put in place by the government, both the federal and states in Niger Delta, to mitigate this environmental pollution in the region. The should also demand that the oil companies should end gas flaring and other forms of exploration that are injurious to environment and health, and also fund the cleanup of all polluted areas.
It should be however be noted that this soot crisis and other environmental pollution problems in the Niger Delta are caused by crazy drive for super profit at the expense of the environment and people. So, for the oil sector to be run in the interest of the vast majority, it has to be nationalized and must be put under democratic management and control of working people. Only in this way can the destruction of environment be tackled and the resources of nature used for the benefits of people and society. But this will not happen without beginning the process to defeat capitalism the system that put profit ahead of needs, sustainable environmental etc.