Lagos is now an oil producing state, the first sample was given to Governor Ambode during the week, Praise the Lord somebody? The black gold is finally in Eko. I am very happy for Lagos, as a Niger Delta child, I am very pleased for this city.
I remember growing up in the midst of ethnic clashes: Itsekiri, Ijaw and Urhobo crisis. We had Christmases where we stayed indoors, nights gunshots kept us awake. Weeks we stayed away from school because of the crisis, Sundays we couldn’t attend morning mass in Ekurede Itsekiri because we were Urhobo, and vice versa. Days when everyone had to be home by 6pm because of the curfew, passing some spots with your hands raised, soldiers everywhere, all because of oil and control. But that is not why I am pleased for Lagos.
I am happy for Lagos because this is 2016, and they may not face the issues the Niger Delta faced if they are smart. I remember the environmental pollution, the fire that resulted from busted pipelines that destroyed farmlands, the oil that spilled into ponds and stayed thick on the ground like glue.
I remember times relatives ran from the village to our houses because a pipeline got busted and soldiers were arresting every grown man in the village, never minding that those who stole oil are long gone.
I remember sitting on desks with NNPC/SPDC JV painted along the edges, and I wondered what JV meant, (I found out last year). Times we went to write scholarship exams because we were from oil producing communities, the pride that went along as we said it. Scholarships that bred so much corruption. Then they started giving us bursary, 50k from Desopadec, 30k from Delta State government and scholarships from Shell, Chevron and NNPC. You can imagine the mago-mago that followed this process.
We were supposed to get the bursary every year at the university, but in my 5 years I didn’t get once. I had friends who got once in 4 years. I don’t know anyone who got this bursary every year.
I remember how angry I felt the first time I went to my mum’s village and other villages hosting oil companies, comparing Warri and other parts of Nigeria. And I understood the struggle for resource control. How Nigerians are quick to say ‘our oyel, our oyel’ but the pollution is a Niger Delta problem. For a while I supported the militants, until they got amnesty and became what they fought against. There’s still no development in the region that feeds Nigeria. It is a ‘monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’ business; there is no functioning port in the Niger Delta.
President Buhari came in and announced the clean-up of Ogoni, I hear it will kick off next month, good one Mr President, but is Ogoni the only polluted part of the Niger Delta? And how are you going to compensate for the decades of pollution and oppression Nigeria dealt the Niger Delta?
I am glad because Lagos found oil, the story will change. When Lagos realizes that 13% is not enough to bear the cost of production, when they see what gas flaring has done to the Niger Delta, what leaking/ erupted pipelines have done to the Niger Delta, when the almighty Lagos media attacks Nigeria for what the Niger Delta has been crying over for decades, I will be here grinning. I have bought pop corn, waiting for the movie.
Once again, congratulation to Lagos, una time don come.
Read more from Lucia