The politics of the Ogoni clean-up: challenges and prospects
The Federal Government of Nigeria in July 2006 instituted an independent study carried out by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to ascertain the nature and the extent of oil contamination in Ogoniland as a precondition for reconciliation between the Ogoni on one hand, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Nigeria and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the other hand. The UNEP’s field observations and scientific investigations reveal that the oil contamination in Ogoniland is widespread and severely impacting many components of the environment (biophysical and socio-economic). It is of special note that oil production by Shell Petroleum in Ogoniland was stopped abruptly in 1993 following agitation by the Ogoni against the Federal Government of Nigeria, and against multinational oil companies. At shut down in 1993, facilities were exposed to frequent sabotage resulting in fires, spillages, oil theft and illegal oil refining leading to significant environmental degradation. The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Nigeria, a major operating oil transnational company in Ogoniland, has publicly demonstrated commitment towards the full implementation of the UNEP Report by embarking on intensive clean-up and extensive remediation of areas of environmental degradation in Ogoniland. The aim of this paper is to examine the remediation efforts of the SPDC in Ogoniland, the challenges to complete restoration of the Ogoni environment and the way forward.