By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

In continuation of its advocacy to ensure oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta are not short-changed by divesting International Oil Companies (IOCs), the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the National Assembly to convene a public hearing to address the environmental and human rights concerns raised by host communities.
ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Chima Williams said the public hearing is one among several approaches to address the flurry of the divestments by the multinationals during a courtesy visit to Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Kingsley Chinda in Abuja.
Williams explained that the controversy generated by the plans by Eni to sell its Nigerian subsidiary to Oando has exposed how the multinationals mine with reckless abandon and then leave the toxic assets for indigenous companies that refuse to shoulder their liabilities.
He pointed out that the decision of the oil firms to leave the region without remediating oil pollutions on farmlands and water systems was tantamount to sucking the juice from a fruit and leaving the chaff behind.
“In virtually all the cases where IOC divestment has happened, communities feel used and dumped hence a legislative intervention has become necessary”
Explaining further, the ERA/FoEN said that the organization has been working with host communities in Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo, and Delta among others to document their experiences with divesting IOCs and has articulated their demands in a policy brief which also points the way forward in holding the corporations to account.
Responding, Hon, Chinda said that the National Assembly will be willing to hear from affected communities and pledged his readiness to continue working with civil society and groups in the Niger Delta to address the myriad of challenges wrought by oil extraction.
The lawmaker also said that he will continue to promote Bills and legislations that uplift the standard of living of Nigerians, even as he added that the IOC divestment issue is one that touches the very core of the lives of Niger Delta communities.

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