Farmers in Akwa Ibom State have decried the havoc they experience as a result of the oil and gas exploration with its attendant negative effect on their means of livelihood.
The farmers made this known on Wednesday when a delegation of Fishing and Farming Multipurpose Cooperative Societies (MPCS) from the coastal communities of Akwa Ibom paid a solidarity visit to Akwa Ibom Oil Producing Community Development Network (AKIPCON) Secretariat in Uyo.
The leaders of both the fish and crop farmers, Mr. Christopher Akpan and Nkereuwem Akpe respectively lamented the huge losses their members have suffered from their means of livelihood.
They listed such havoc to include loss of fishing equipment with floats of various sizes, outboard motor engines of various capacities, lack of good drinking water, pollution of water bodies and contamination of sea foods, low crop yield, oily soil due to oil spills on farmlands, lack of payment of compensation, non award of scholarships to their wards among others and appeal to AKIPCON to use their good offices and fight for their rights.
The duo who said their groups comprises of fishermen, fish vendors, petty business operators, crop farmers and marine transporters pledged their solidarity and cooperation to AKIPCON.
They called on AKIPCON to intensify their struggle towards the realization of the socio economic benefits of their members with a view to alleviating their sufferings as a result of environmental pollution.
Responding, the President General, Akwa Ibom Oil Producing Community Development Network (AKIPCON), Dr. Ufot Phenson, thank the group for their visit.
He promised that the ongoing effort to protect the environment and the rights of Akwa Ibom people and ensure that compensation on decades of environmental degradation and exploitation occasioned by oil and gas companies’ operations in Akwa Ibom as championed by AKIPCON will become a reality.
Phenson lamented the sufferings and the negative impact over 50 years of oil and gas exploration and production by the Multinationals have caused the people of Akwa Ibom their main occupation namely; fishing and farming.
He lamented that, many families of those engaged in fishing and farming in spite of frustration cannot sponsor their children in school nor afford three square meals as well as meet certain daily basic needs as the yields from their occupations are seriously hampered as a result of the negative impact of oil and gas activities on the soil, water and air.
He also added that the life span of Akwa Ibom people and the Niger Deltans are also shortened as a result of poisoned air emanating from flare gas, the poisoned sea foods, wildlife and food crops consumed by the masses leading to the myriad of health challenges suffered by the people.
He expressed the hope that with all the measures taken by AKIPCON a relief will come the way of the exploited masses.
On the ongoing dialogue approved by President Mohammadu Buhari with the Niger Delta Elders, Dr. Phenson said there is no doubt that peace will come the way of the region.