Niger Delta through the aperture
A glance at some of these photographs will give you insight to what most communities in Niger Delta have been facing since black gold was struck in the region over 50 years ago: environmental pollution, erosion, underdevelopment and poverty, Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME spoke with Eremina Jan Jumbo, a photographer who spent 50 days documenting some communities in Bonny Local Government Area.
After over 50 years of oil exploration in Niger Delta, the disturbing state of neglect and environmental degradation of the region still appear inconsequential in the reckoning of many Nigerians, especially the elite who form the core of leaders at various levels of governance. But today, the attendant crises of kidnapping of people and bombing of oil pipelines by militants are matters for serious concern, even to the global community.
Worried by the increasing spate of criminal activities in Niger Delta, PHOTOLENSE, an outfit managed by Bonny born environmentalist and photographer, Eremina Jane Jumbo undertook a recent photographic documentation of some communities in the region. In a chat with The Nation, Jumbo revealed that the level of neglect, degradation and poverty she saw during the documentary that lasted 50 days were very serious issues compared to the manner the militants are going about the agitations in the region. Jumbo who traversed the creeks on small canoes and sometimes on motor cycle, disclosed that most of the communities are threatened by erosion and armed robbers who continually invade the helpless villagers. According to her, Nunabie, one of the communities has been sacked by robbers leaving only a family behind. “Almost every resident of Nunabie has vacated the village. For so long the villagers have been under siege from armed robbers but learnt that the men of the Joint Task Force visited the place after series of reports,” she said.
Also, she visited Mumakiri (aka Ajegunle), which is reported to be populated by the Ilaje, and found that it has been devastated by erosion. Apat from erosion menace, the community’s only primary school is without a teacher and pupils travelled two hours on the creek to Ogoni to attend school and take medical care. When she asked the community head, Mr. Sam Ayodele of the contributions of elected politicians, he answered “The politicians only come here during electioneering campaign. After the election, you don’t see anybody again. Mumakiri used to be the largest community with an expansive waterfront, but today, erosion from the ocean surge has overrun half of the land. And because of this, residents are relocating to other villages.” Another community documented is Agaja, where there are lots of oil pipelines but which is overwhelmed by poverty.
Asked why she undertook the exercise at a period insecurity in he region is high, Jumbo explained that it is to draw attention of well meaning Nigerians to the needs of the people, especially women and children in area of primary health care and education. “I wanted to see for myself why young men are into kidnapping, and to also see with the eyes of my camera how justifying their cause is. But the overall objective of the programmme is to engender development in the region, especially in the provision of portable water, health care and even mosquito nets to the people. ” She noted that unfortunately, there are oil companies like Chevron, Mobil, Shell and the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas facilities in Bonny.