Following on from the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil disaster I wrote in 2010 (June 17) of the hidden oil tradgey that has been present in Nigeria for the last 50 years (Production from Nigeria started in 1958).

Shell oil spill in pictures

Oil in Nigeria- a history

The Amnesty ad in the FT that never saw the light of day

Up until now Shell had claimed only 40,000 gallons of oil were spilt in Nigeria!!! They now, finally, accept responsibility for  the double rupture of a pipeline responsible for the pumping of over 120,000 barrels each day,  following a class-action law suit in London, that occured in 2008, releasing oil into an area of over 20 sq km. This totally devastated the network of creeks and inlets upon which over 30 settlements (69,000 people) depend. If this was not enough, no attempt has been made to clean up the oil. Indeed the communities were offered only $5,700, plus 50 bags of rice, 50 bags of beans and a few cartons sugar, tomatoes and groundnut oil. Though they rejected the offer, they were later persuaded to accept on legal advice.

Follow this link to read more from Guardian columnist John Vidal.

“Shell Nigeria’s actions are indicative of the nature of transnational corporations. Their actions denote a hypocritical approach to the value of human life and the environment – actions routinely taken in Ogoni would be unthinkeable in the ‘developed’ countries of the North who buy most of Shell’s oil. The devastation of Ogoni is also part of a familiar pattern – through the exploitation of oil, the Ogoni’s chief livelyhood, their land, is being poisoned. Soon they will have not choice but become players in the economic system from which Shell derives its dominance. It is too late to save Ken Saro Wiwa now, but thousands of Ogoni are still under threat. It is crucial that action be taken to support Ogoni and the Nigerian people now” (

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNep) it will take upto 30 years and cost $1bn to rectify. Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria called for the creation of a $100bn environmental restoration fund for the whole Niger Delta arguing that the settlement given is paltry. In some ways it could be argued that the US and Europe have now turned, however slightly, to the issue, however the sheer scale of what has taken place and the lack of justice for those involved, raises the questions of how? and why?

How has the constant pollution of Nigeria continued for so long been without greater international condemnation?

What governs news worthy reporting? Why do some issues garner international social outcry and others do not?

And then there is the bitter sweet report from the UN citing the clean-up as a way in which other African countries could benefit while developing and maintaining their oil reserves, as mentioned by John Vidal.

And finally, if you ever thought of the value of asking your students to write a blog then I hope I have answered it within this  article. From September I will be asking the required fraction each month to have written and posted a blog within a required time frame. This they will do throughout the school year until all have contributed (and my fraction = one) and all have processed. I then plan to look at the Learner Profile and bring the blogs into the classroom through discussion etc. It will hopefully encourage them to scour the news, look for issues that interest them and perhaps, just perhaps, get them as passionate about their topic as I have become about this issue and the others I write.