CSOs urge international financial institutions to discontinue financing fossil fuel projects in Nigeria
BY: Femi Mustapha.
The forthcoming week is a busy one for the major oil companies as they will be having their Annual General Meeting (AGM) from 23rd to 31st May 2023.
Information gathered revealed that Shell BP’s AGM is scheduled for May 23rd, Total Energies AGM on May 26th, and Exxon Mobil on May 31st, 2023.
However, worried by the perennial damages done in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, Civil Society Organisations working under the aegis of the Peoples’ Annual General Meeting (PAGM) held a shadow annual meeting to that of the major oil companies, where profits are declared at the detriment of the people.
The PAGM, which was convened by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), called on international financial institutions including the World Bank, African Development Bank, and Export Credit Agencies to discontinue financing fossil fuel projects in Nigeria.
In a ten-point resolution signed by the trio of the Convener and Executive Director of ANEEJ, Reverend David Ugolor; Co-Chair and Executive Director, Indigenous Centre for Energy and Sustainable Development (ICE-SD), Legborsi Saro Pyagbara; and Co-Chair/National Coordinator, Publish What You Pay, Nigeria Campaign, Taiwo Otitolaye, after the PAGM held in Abuja and made available to newsmen in Kaduna, the group also called President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd to, as a matter of urgency, withdraw the operating license of Shell over its complicity in the environmental and ecological injustices ranging from divestment from onshore to offshore, leaving behind the problems it created in the Niger Delta, weakened climate change commitment for short-term profit, and its poor human rights record in Nigeria.
The PAGM, which was held ahead of Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Total Energies AGMs scheduled for next week, frowned at Shell’s current weak energy transition strategy and welcomed the recent Church of England Pensions Board’s announcement to vote against Shell’s Chair and Directors and the transition plan during the company’s 2023 AGM.
On the ongoing Cleanup of Ogoni land, the group called on the FG to appoint a substantive chairman of the Governing Council of HYPREP to ensure consistency in its leadership. “The Government, companies, and other stakeholders should contribute to the remediation process by supporting the development and adoption of new technologies that can accelerate the Ogoni cleanup.
“We also call on HYPREP to embark on a full-scale livelihood restoration program for the Ogoni people,” the group demanded.
The group also called for an unbiased investigation into the remediation process in Ogoni land as well as environmental and health audits of the entire Niger Delta, urging a total cleanup of the region.
The resolution further reads in part, “The Norwegian Pension Fund and other investors should follow the example of The Church of England, which has made a commitment to vote against Shell’s Chair and Directors and the transition plan during the upcoming company’s 2023 AGM.”
While calling on the FG, particularly the incoming administration, to demonstrate the political will to end gas flaring in Nigeria, the group noted that the Energy Transition Plan of oil companies should be in compliance with the Paris Agreement on climate change and Climate Change Act, reflecting the perspectives of communities affected by decades of fossil fuel extraction.
The PAGM also resolved to conduct further research on the activities of oil companies operating in Kogi, Nasarawa, Gombe, and other parts of Nigeria to promote learning and experience sharing between Niger Delta communities and other parts of Nigeria, even as it vowed to undertake high-level advocacy to engage the investors and government currently supporting Shell, Total Energies, Exxon Mobil, and other oil companies in Nigeria.
The group demanded that oil companies including Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron should take responsibility for loss and damage in the Niger Delta as recommended by COP27.
Other civil society leaders at the meeting were Mr. Edem Edem, Green Concern for Development, and Ms. Inyingi Irimagha, Gender and Development Action (GADA).
This year’s PAGM, which is the second in the series, had in attendance sixty-seven participants across Nigeria, including the Niger Delta region and other emerging oil states from Northern Nigeria.
Participants at the well-attended meeting include representatives of host oil communities, faith-based organizations, human rights groups, climate justice activists, women and youth groups, indigenous peoples’ groups, and environmental groups. The event continues tomorrow with demonstrations against the activities of oil majors in the country.
The activists later stormed the NNPCL Tower with myriad placards bearing different inscriptions like: “We demand a just Energy Transition,” “We say No to Carbon Emission,” “We say No to Global Warning,” “We say No to Environmental Degradation.”
Others include: “We say No to Gas Flaring,” “We Say No to Shell Transition Strategy,” among others. The groups bemoaned the level of penury and agonies Shell, among other oil giants in Nigeria, has subjected Nigerians in the host communities.
They presented a letter demanding the withdrawal of the operating license of Shell and the resolutions of their meetings to the representative of the Group Managing Director of NNPCL.