Fishermen sort out their fishing net at the bank of a polluted river in Bidere community in Ogoniland.
By Brakerekebina Birinimighan
Fishermen of the oil-rich Ogoni ethnic nationality, Rivers state, have raised the alarm that oil has taken over their rivers, causing fishes and crabs to run away.
The anglers spoke at Ogoni Freedom Centre in Bori, Khana Local Government Area of the state, when Health of Mother Earth Foundation and other Non-Governmental Organisations held a campaign on Climate Change in the area.
A fisherman, Francis Nnaane, said: “If I go to the river now, what I see is only oil floating on the river. Sometimes, we try to drink water but it is bad. I try over 10 rivers everyday; I toil from morning till night without making any catch. Even the crab we get easily cannot be seen again.
“Oil has killed all of them. I am now suffering with my children. Most of the fishes we get at ease are nowhere to be found. We are calling on the government to do everything possible to clean our environment.
“I do not want oil again; I am not benefitting anything from it. I depend on water and if our environment is cleaned and fishes return, we fishermen and women can survive. My father was a fisherman, so he trained me in fishing. I know the value of water because I am a fisherman. It is from the river I get food and train my children. Now there is no way again. It is hard now to depend on river again, because if I go to fish now, I do not get anything,” he said.
Speaking, one of the coordinators of the campaign, Ken Henshaw, stated: “The effect of crude oil extraction is having much negative impact on the people of Ogoni and other communities. The best we can do at the time is to leave oil in the soil. All we get from oil-producing communities is pollution and devastation of the environment with Benzene found heavily in our waters.
“What we are trying to say is that a life without fossil fuel is possible. Oil, fossil fuel and gas have only taken our communities and country backwards. We can do better when we leave oil in the ground; that is our message.
“We need to end this era of fossil fuel. If the world continues on fossil fuel, there is the fear that in 50 years’ time, there will not be a safe planet to live on anymore. Oil has only caused us death and crisis,” he asserted.
Henshaw added: “What Ogoni people are doing is saving themselves by calling on the entire world to stop oil extraction. Nigeria needs to adopt another way of development. The major cause of climate change is the extraction of fossil fuel. It is causing a whole lot that even fishermen can no longer fish.”
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