Bosah Chinedu (National Secretary Education Rights Campaign (ERC))
19 May 2008
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) commiserates with the family of the students/pupils and residents that lost their lives at the Ijegun pipeline explosion. Our hearts also go to other victims and residents of Ijegun who lost relatives and properties and suffered bodily injuries as a result of the explosion. The ERC is wishing them quick recovery.
ERC is particular worried that the pipeline disaster has become very common in Nigeria. Apart from wars and natural disaster, at no time had over 2500 people lost their lives in a single man made disaster (pipeline explosion) that keep occurring overtime since 1998. Since 1998 pipeline disaster in Jesse Delta state where 1082 persons lost their lives nothing concrete has been done by both the federal and respective state governments to forestall future occurrence. Regrettable in 10 years it had occurred about 18 times in different parts of the country. One wonders the number of pipelines that are within the neighbourhoods in Lagos and elsewhere across the federation that constitute serious threat to public safety and are waiting to explode.
One wonders why the company and the contractee (Alimosho/Lagos State government) did not do assessment of the locality before the embarking on the construction work. One wonders what kind of deep sleep the NNPC, Lagos State and federal government were into when houses and other structures were being erected around pipeline. At least, there should have been a specified radius within which no structure should be put up except oil related facilities if need be. It is lack of planning that makes it possible for residents and pipelines to live as neighbours. In all ramifications, the NNPC, the Alimosho local government, Lagos State Government and the contractor are to be held liable for the loss of lives and properties as a result of the pipeline disaster that occurred at Ijegun.
However, the pipeline explosion disasters like other disasters including accidents diseases, collapse of building etc., show clearly the lack of planning of the country by present and past leaders. Houses, roads and other social amenities are not planned to meet the needs of people. The dearth of social and holistic planning as a result of long time implementation of neo-liberal policies (privatisation, deregulation etc) that have increased the level of poverty drastically and have pushed Nigerians to self help wherein houses, schools, hospitals etc., are built in an unorganised manner is presently responsible for these anarchies. Houses collapse because they are not properly built; roads have become death traps, schools are in a deplorable condition; most hospitals are gate-way to mortuaries etc., yet tax payers money are flagrantly looted by those in authorities and the masses have been abandoned. This is happening at a time the country is enjoying a boom wherein we are selling at least 2million barrels of crude oil per day at $120 per barrel with nothing to show for it other than the waste and profligacy of a privileged few. “Things fall apart, for private interests overshadow public/common interests- the centre can no longer hold-anarchy reigns.”
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) hereby calls on the NNPC, Alimosho local government, Lagos State government and the contractor to immediately pay adequate compensation to the family of the deceased and to those who lost their properties. This includes adequate and free medical treatment to those who sustained injuries. ERC also calls on all levels of government (Local to federal government) across the federation to immediately commence the planning of all urban and rural areas such that houses, schools, roads, bridges, hospitals etc., are built in an organised manner in order to meet the needs of the people and in such a way it guarantees safety to all citizens.
ERC also reject 2008 budget allocation (N210 billion) to education as too small for a population of 150million and for a country that accommodates the 5th largest number of illiterates in the world. We hereby reiterate our demand for better funding of education to at least 26% UNESCO recommendation to be complied with by all local, state and federal government across the federation in order to give free and quality education to all students/youths and adults that need it. We hereby submit that without massive investment on the vast majority of Nigerians that will guarantee far better standard of living than we have now, the vision 2020 like other visions (vision 2000, 2010, 2015) is a mirage and only calculated to make the rich more richer while the poor are condemned to unmitigated poverty.