“I want the Federal Government to intercede for us so our women won’t experience miscarriage again”. “If the government was providing social amenities to community members, then we would have never accepted the destructive coal mining activities”. Those are words of respectively Mrs Agagwu Rachel and Mr Alfa Stephen, the chairman of Onupi Coal Committee when attending the civil society meeting organized by GIFSEP and partners like International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Heinrich Boll Foundation, Climate and Sustainable Development Network and Global Rights to mark World Social Justice Day.
The meeting was an opportunity for community leaders and civil society groups to strategize on the way forward in ensuring the voices of the community members in both Kogi and Gombe states are heard and to advocate for a coal-free society that keeps social justice and safety at the forefront.
The gathering was inspired by a research GIFSEP did last year to ascertain the status of coal mining and to identify the actors and financiers of coal mining in Nigeria. The research carried out by the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) in Kogi and Gombe states with support from 350.org was a response to the shift in fossil fuel investment caused by Nigeria’s yawning gap in power generation and supply, which prompted many stakeholders including the members of the National Assembly to demand coal-powered stations.
This research revealed serious troubling impacts local communities are now confronted due to the activities of Dangote coal mine. These impacts include the destruction of water sources contamination of alternative borehole sources, health issues like high rates of miscarriage. More detailed information about the research’s findings can be viewed here.
Community members of Kogi and Gombe states alongside others in Nigeria intend to continue raising their voices to ensure their right to a clean and healthy environment filled with sustainable prosperity. According to participants, the meeting was just the beginning of the journey towards a coal-free Onupi and Nigeria.