When Opu-Nembe Can’t Breathe! OML 29, AITEO And A Brewing Feud Fuelled By A Community’s Impaired Breathing!


*Stakeholders trace AITEO’s Operated OML29’s face-off with Opu-Nembe community to Diezani’s Controversial “Consent”, Urge FG to Intervene.

Expressions such as dangerous exploration, cumulative environmental degradation, and painful cut-throat deals with devastating environmental impact on host communities are not enough to express the narrative that has become the lot of the people of Opu Nembe community, in Bayelsa State which is home to the lucrative OML29 that is being operated by AITEO.

Beginning with a protest letter by Opu-Nembe Council of Chiefs on November 7th, 2014 to the then minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Deziani Allison-Madueke wherein the Opu-Nembe community voiced its objection to SPDC’s  divestment of OML 29 to AITEO unless an independent and all-embracing Environmental and Socio-Economic impact audit was undertaken, to gripping  allegations that the erstwhile petroleum minister allegedly took her foot off the brake, allowed impunity to reign , it has been a chronicle of a distraught community, and a desolate people whose daily experience has become one of anguish.

It is  like a tragic drama of how a people’s dream of even having access to basic clean water has been shattered by environmental disasters.

“ If only the then Minister, Mrs Diezani Allison –Madueke had declined to  grant consent for OML 29 divestment since there was no  independent environmental and socio-economic impact assessment, we won’t be where we are today, suffering. Every day, it is pain from the operator of OML 29!”, a middle aged man recounted to The New Diplomat.

The middle-aged man believes  that  ministerial consent  has  somewhat complicated the setting, fuelling tension in a  once calm, quiet and friendly community.

Meanwhile, the Nembe are regarded as brave, conscientious,  and patriotic people who would rather  peacefully engage  than snap, bristle even in times of tension and crisis. However, the middle-aged man narrated to The New Diplomat that the community  has been stretched to breaking point!

According to him the current state of things  has brought echoes  reminiscent  of the historic expedition  of  the fire-eating  Nembe chiefs of the tail end of the 19th century  that  ignited the fire, frenzy, and storm during the reign of King Fredrick William Koko( the Mingi of Nembe)  when the latter led an expedition  in 1895  to challenge the punitive  monopoly of the now defunct  Royal Niger Company in what is famously known as the Akassa Raid or best described  by some  historians as the British-Nembe War.

A community member narrated to our reporters that a tense atmosphere appears to have enveloped the Opu-Nembe community over the  OML29, AITEO and allied subject matters.

Significantly, bit by bit, day by day, the narrative is unfolding about how many, including  Diezani, high-heeled royal fathers , among others let their feet off the brake, thereby throwing a whole community into an environmentally frenzy ramps that have left it with strange tales of  toxic  hysteria.

WATCH OUT for this detailed  report that took our team of investigative reporters about a year to  explore, unravel, and decode  with the technical  support of a team drawn from the Global Journalist Network (GJN) in Norway…


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