June 4th, 2010
The collapse of a BP oil rig in the Gulf of
Mexico caused a blow-out, which, in the last six weeks, has
resulted in a flotilla of oily sludge. Ever since, anger has
turned into controversy and controversy into desperation
As the bickering got bitter, the waters of the Gulf of
Mexico became murky, toxic and deadly to aquatic life.
From the trend of the lively debates that have ensued, one
gets the impression that some biased Americans expect their
President to be Superman, a Voo-doo magician, who would have
just conjured the damned thing away.
Since the initial operational strategy of BP failed as a
result of the complicated and formidable nature of the
operation, the Tea Party and other fringe groups of American
racists, haters of fellow human beings, trivialized some
disturbing discrepancies in the whole episode. It is
The unprecedented environmental disaster in the Gulf of
Mexico is on all fours with the four decades old
environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Guinea, especially
in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
While the American President Barack Obama has been handling
the oil spill, with automatic alacrity and visible concern,
the successive Nigerian leaders treated the disastrous
events in the Niger Delta, with benign neglect. Yet, they
were eager to distribute the funds from oil, with
In 1960, I was an Accounts Clerk at the Nigerian Ports
Authority in Portharcourt, now the capital of Rivers State.
It is no longer the “Garden City”, as a result of the
The present Governor, who we thought was going to perform as
a result of his passionate appeal at the courts, seems to
have been engaged in ego trip, newspaper declarations of
wonderful achievements, gaieties and social festivities that
bother on reckless and wasteful spending.
As an Accounts Clerk, I used to travel by the NPA boats, to
pay dock workers in Abonema, Degema and other hinterland
ports. During my visits, I would see Shell D’Arcy ships
loaded with the black gold sailing to Europe.
In September, 1960, I travelled by the ship “SS TARKWA” from
Portharcourt to Fourabay College, the University College of
Sierra Leone. We saw miles of oil floating on the ocean.
In 1990, I re-visited Portharcourt and took an extensive
tour to the creeks of Rivers and Bayelsa States. I had read
Dr. Ken Saro Wiwa’s articles and speeches on the ecological
disasters in the region.
It will remain an indelible blot on the conscience of our
“dealers” that as a result of Ken’s displeasure with the
ecological damage of his homeland, he was made to pay the
supreme price, a terrible execution, ordered by a deranged
dictator, with the oil company’s tacit support.
If any of our “leaders” had shown minimum concern for the
plight of the people of the Niger Delta since 1960, we would
not have frittered away scare resources in fighting
America is a unique country. Anything that happens to
America receives immediate and full attention. We have had
several governments in Nigeria in the last sixty years. The
conditions of the people in the Niger Delta, has grown
progressively worse, with occasional hand-outs to vocal
leaders by the government and the oil companies.
Recently, the officer-in-charge of regulating the Louisiana
spill has been fired for her “cozy relations” with the
people she was supposed to supervise.
All our former oil ministers can write learnedly on the
awesome ability of oil companies to smoothen their way with
Jeff Koinange’s flawed report on the Niger Delta, at least
gave an insight into the Niger Delta ecological
catstrophe.Nigerian journalists have been accused of being
afflicted by the brown envelope syndrome, which is why the
on-going disaster in the Niger Delta can not be addressed by
There is evidence that the Americans regard the political
mal-contents in the Niger Delta, as terrorists. There are
usually different strokes for different people, but history
does repeat itself, in ways that are manifestly didactic.
Anti-Obama hecklers in America led by the fringe elements of
American politics, racists, haters of men, who are from the
Universe of Fallen angels, now associate the President with
every imaginable accusation and unfounded criticisms as if
Obama caused the spill in the first place.
No matter how virulent these criticisms remain, the whole
episode was and is an unforeseen event and should be
regarded as such.
The Tea Party of America is a collection of political
dissidents, who are morbidly opposed to any idea which does
not agree with their out-dated republican ethos. I recommend
that every member of the Tea Party of America should order a
well-baked, brown, Obama cake to go with their tea.
Mrs. Sarah Palin, the former Alaskan Governor, has turned
pale with hate and irremediable posturing. I bet she will
soon lose her relevance and join the rank of discredited
The present tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, throws more light
on the tragedy of the Niger Delta, in the Gulf of Guinea.
The oil companies, it is true, provide jobs for many
citizens. In many cases, they are well-paid in order for the
workers to work harder and more dangerously.
Those who defend their territories from environmental
pollution are not terrorists. They should not be clubbed to
death for opposing injustice.
At BOSAS INTERNATIONAL LAW BUREAU, Abuja last week, we
discussed the international legal implications of the case
between a sovereign state and an international corporate
entity. We arrived at the conclusion that the international
responsibility of BP is beyond dispute.
With the crisis in the capitalist economy enveloping Greece,
Spain, Portugal and other states, the multi-nationals like
banks and oil companies, which lay the golden eggs, can lest
afford to be in trouble. Has the decline of the West become
Resources available to the United States Government are not
as buoyant as they used to be. So, a radical review of US
foreign policy is necessary.
Until and unless the United States policy-makers
realistically and coolly understand and accept the
incorrigible nature of 12th century feudalist and
anachronistic systems in those states they aspire to
democratize, they will continue to fritter away scare
resources and the precious lives of their young soldiers in
No matter how well-meaning American governments are in their
world civilization campaign, they cannot hurry the sun rise
nor delay the sun-set.
Like all things on planet EARTH, this oil spill will pass no
matter how long it will last.
Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai is the President of
the proposed AFEMAI UNIVERSITY, FUGAR, Edo State, Nigeria.