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Post-Oil Production: HOMEF Train Farmers On Reclaiming Their Livelihoods In Rivers

By Obiabin Onukwugha

As the globe moves away from fossil fuel and embrace alternative energy sources, an environmental body, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), through its School of Ecology, has embarked on series of trainings for farmers and indigenous people of the Niger Delta region on how they could remain their livelihoods.

The most recent training was held in Eteo community, Eleme local government area of Rivers State on Thursday, February 1 to Friday February 3, 2024 where farmers were sensitised on their rights and how to reclaim their lands, which was taken away from them by the Land Use Act of 1978.

The training, which had over twenty participants, also examined the African Charter for Human and Peoples Right, which Nigeria is a signatory.

Speaking with newsmen shortly after the training, Project Lead of HOMEF, Stephen Oduware said the communities were dispossessed of their lands and by implication their rights by the reason of oil exploitation and exploitation.

He said: “We are here at Eteo community to have a training with the community people on land rights and as well as human rights and also fighting against land grabbing.

“You will recall that these communities have been dispossessed of their lands, they have been stripped of their rights and we are here to sit together to look at these things. For example we are here to examine the Land Use Act of 1978 which actually takes the land from the people and put it on the hand of government.

“Putting it in the hands of government to “hold it in trust for the people” but we have seen that this land technically have been taken away from the people and their rights taken away from them. How on earth can you say that what is on the surface is mine and what lies below six feet is yours. I think that is the height of irresponsibility, that is the height of disrespect to our communities.

“Wr are also here to look at the elements that make up our rights. We are here to examine the African Charter for Human and Peoples Right and those components that makes us humans so that we will be able to advocate and reclaim our lands.

“It is our hope and expectations that we have a core of farmers who are well vest in their rights and they are able to push for the recognition of those rights because if you don’t push for it nobody is going to give it to you.”

Also, another resource person and Executive Director of We the People, Ken Henshaw said the end to oil production has put the people of the Niger Delta st critical point, and that there is need to sensitise them towards post-hydrocarbon age.

“We have realised that Nigeria and indeed the world, and especially communities in the Niger Delta are at a very critical junction. This is a period where for the first time there is a global consensus that oil extraction has to stop because the consequences are dire. The consequences include climate change which is destroying our people and affect how our people survive. So whether we like it or not at some point crude oil extraction will come to an end.

“And after 65 years of oil extraction what do these communities have to show for it. All their lands have been polluted by constant, consistent oil spills. What they have to show for, is that their health have been impacted on account of dangerously ingesting hydrocarbons and gas flaring and all that.

“They lack development, they lack all the indicators of development. And part of what we are doing here is to engage these communities, talk to these communities, build their resilience and support them on reclaiming their land and existence ahead of a post-hydrocarbon age,” he stated.

 

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