No one can tell if these words were scribbled by a male or female but they no doubt represent the dreams of an average GOI Youth. Unfortunately, not many realize their goals in life due to the poverty level in the community caused by Land pollution and desertification. Goi, one of the five communities in Ogoni has suffered land pollution since 2004 when a major oil spill occurred in the trans-Niger pipeline which runs through Ogoni to bonny export terminal. This led to a major fire outbreak leaving about 15 hectares of mangrove forest devastated, no fewer than 20 canoes as well as fishes destroyed and several cash crops gone up in flames. Nothing was done to salvage what was left of the community until 2007 when Shell began its clean up of the fish pond.
Aquatic creatures die on land due to oil spillage
Shortly after, there was an oil leak into the trans-Niger pipeline which polluted the rivers and practically killed everything living underneath. Several species of aquatic animals which used to be the pride of the Goi people has gone extinct and the land inhabitable. Many buy drinking water from neighboring communities because the water has become contaminated.
High chief of Goi community holding a unique specie of periwinkle which has gone extinct
In an interview with High chief Baziraa, he laments how difficult it gets for his people to feed. Their sole source of earning; fishing has not brought yields since 2004. The indigenes are forced to eat poorly processed cassava just to get by. He also mentioned that the mortality rate is high as many do not live above 40. The air is polluted due to gas flaring which has discolored plants, destroyed trees and their yields. Many of the youth have resorted to armed robbery, oil bunkering, cultism, and prostitution just to survive and cater for their families. Protecting the environment cannot be over-emphasized because land earths the natural resources man needs to survive. If destroyed, man will suffer.
Group picture with environmentalist, Nnimmo Bassey at Goi
I and a Chief in Ogoni, standing by a site
For the people of Goi, its hope against hope. Many have moved to other communities in search of greener pasture, but a hand-full has remained. They say the road to recovery may be tough and long, buts they are ready to rebuild Goi either with the pen or with their blood.
Story by Emuan Okolie, as report from the AAMEI Eco-journalism training and field trip to Ogoni.