By Obiejesi Kingsley
President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, Peter Maurer, has painted a far-from-complimentary picture of the Niger Delta after paying a visit to the oil region on Sunday.
Maurer explained on his social media handle that he embarked on the trip “to listen to villagers explain how their lives have been hit by poverty and violence.”
It wasn’t very clear from Maurer’s posts which part of the Niger Delta he had visited, but pictures he posted showed it was a riverine community.
He stated that a large portion of the water bodies was very polluted and “full of rubbish and oil slicks”. It took “6 hours by boat to find water clean enough to fish.”
According to him, water from wells were “safe enough”.
He also pointed out a supposedly completed Millenium Development Goals, MDGs, project – a borehole – that is at best, a waste of resources.
He tweeted: “A #MDG “success story” in Niger Delta. Town generator: never got wired. Water plant: no electricity, so never worked! Box ticked.”
Maurer posted a picture of a health clinic in the area saying that there were no medicines and no medical personnel to cater for the people.
“This Niger Delta health clinic has no medicine. It’s abandoned. Staff are too scared to work here. So what are the sick and ill to do?” he queried.
The ICRC president later posted a picture of himself at a “Meeting (with) patients and orthopedic team at the only physical rehab centre” in the area.
There has been renewed surge in bombings and destruction of oil and gas facilities in the oil-rich Niger Delta from which flows the crude oil on which the Nigerian economy largely depend.
Citizens from the area have always complained of neglect by the Nigerian government despite the devastation that oil exploration activities had caused in the region.
They are calling for a restructuring of the country’s economy such that every state will be directly in control of natural resources in its domain.
However, analysts have also blamed the political elites from the Niger Delta region for not doing enough to cater for their people, despite a 13% derivative fund accruable to oil producing states from the federation account.