“Lord rest my soul, but the struggle continues,” Ken Saro-Wiwa said as he was hanged following a peaceful uprising against Shell’s operations in the Niger Delta. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the execution of the author and activist by the then military authorities, but most people in Nigeria’s oil-rich region still live in poverty, amid catastrophic pollution.
Shell and Eni, another big oil company, documented over 550 spills last year alone. Such investors blame militancy and vandalism for the environmental disaster—both are indeed problems—but many of their pipelines are rotting and the clean-up contracts are widely criticised.
A recent Amnesty International report accused Shell of making “false claims” about restoring polluted sites (which it denies); UN plans for a serious mop-up are gathering dust.
An amnesty ended an insurgency in the Delta in 2009, but it expires next month. Frustrated youths may resort to more violent means than the charismatic and revered Saro-Wiwa. Source; The Economist