A renowned environmentalist and Executive Director of Health of Mother Heart Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey has said oil extractions in Africa have caused decades of environmental degradation and disruption of livelihoods than benefits to the local economy.
Bassey stated this on Wednesday during COP 28 in Dubai shortly after the screening of a documentary on the continuous burning of fire on the Ororo oil well in Ondo State for the past three years.
This fire, experts said was harming the marine ecosystem and disrupting fishing and other economic activities of the nearby communities.
Although billions of dollars have come to Africa through oil and gas, Bassey said, the suffering of the people as a result of the induced environmental crisis outweighed the benefits.
“If you look at the environment and the lives of the people and count the cost that people have had to suffer because of oil extractions, you find out that the equation is negative.
“It is a deficit economy. So now, we can invest in renewable energy and clean-up, which will create a lot of jobs and will tackle the issue of unemployment on the continent.
“So that is the direction we should go, rather than digging deeper,” said Bassey.
On the way to move the economy forward on the continent, the renowned environmental activist said Nigeria, for instance, was a richer country before oil for its agricultural potential.
“We had a better education system, we had infrastructure, better social services, better agriculture and the regions were more independent and Nigerians were co-hold ahead of better, and good forex exchange.
“If we look back at where we are coming from, no matter how far we have gone in a wrong direction, it is not too late to retrace our steps.
Sharing the same view, Salome Nduta, a Kenya environmentalist called for solidarity with the residents of the affected communities in seeking an end to the environmental issue.
“Once we accept this is our problem, we join in solidarity. Because I have watched, I should say I have not watched alone, I should think of what I can do at a personal level .
“We need to constantly speak on behalf of the community suffering from this,” she said.