The Niger Delta (ND) basin is a huge source of economic prosperity for Nigeria, due to its crude oil endowments from explorations which begun in 1950’s. Niger delta has millions of barrels of crude oil deposits and trillions of cubic meters of natural gases, and this highlights the economic significance of the region to prosperity of Nigeria. Over 90% of Nigeria’s export revenue comes from sale of oil and its related products, in addition to many employment opportunities the industry generates to Nigerians. However, the unwise exploitation, transportation and use of oil have made it a source of environmental pollution in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.
Oil is a natural non-renewable source of energy that is formed through bio-degradation of fossils over millions of years. Due to potential depletion of this valuable resource, its wise exploitation is inevitable, more so that Nigeria is a developing world with one of the highest population growth rates in the world.
Impact of Oil Spill in Niger Delta
The potential impacts of oil spillage are diverse and include ecological devastation, internal displacement and health hazards among other impacts on both human and environment. The spillage of oil in the Niger delta has led to harsh destruction of the ecological balance since it has destroyed many crops, mangrove forests, cash crops, led to loss of land fertility in addition to displacement of populations. In more extreme cases of oil spill, fires have occurred that killed populations, (Opukri and Ibaba, 2008). The diagram below shows extend of the destruction that oil spill in Niger Delta can pose to aquatic life.
The Niger Delta remains an impoverished region in the coast of Nigeria and oil spill adds to the problem by displacing populations in addition to devastating health problems. Loss of aquatic life represents a significant loss of source of clean water and fish which is a source of livelihood for a poor population in the region. Oil spills forms a thick layer on the surface of the soil, referred to as scrum that is impermeable to air and this disrupts the physicochemical properties of soil leading to loss of plant and animal life. This has a long-term impact of causing displacements of the population living the affected area since they will be forced to seek for fresh water and good soils for farming.
Finally, oil spillage in the Niger delta has led to many health problems, where the affected locals have complained of skin lesions and breathing problems. The impact of oil spill has led to castration of basic human rights from such people, which include access to clean water, good source of seafood, which is their main source of mainstay.
Possible Remedies to Oil Spillage in Niger Delta
Wise drilling, transportation and processing of oil is paramount for continuous supply, availability, environmental protection and human safety. Much research has highlighted the need to protect this dwindling non-renewable source of energy. America for instance has shifted to use of natural gas to generate electricity, which is more environmentally friendly, using a process referred to as hydraulic fracturing, (Medved, 2012). This points a case of environmental and human protection and sense of sustainable use of natural resources.
From literature available, it is evident that environment free from pollution is core to existence of human population, (Dell, Meakin, Cramwinckel & others, 2008). The exploitation of oil in Niger Delta should take note of protection of environment, which is source of livelihood for the poor population living in the environment, and there is need for collaborative efforts from both the government and enactment of regulations to control oil spills. Impacts of oil spill take as long as 10 – 15 years to clear and this creates a devastating impact on both human beings, water and land animals.
In conclusion, oil should be a source of economic reprieve and not source of problems to the Nigerian government. There is need for wise exploitation of the natural resource to ensure that the people enjoy its economic benefits in addition to ensuring that environment is kept clean.