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HOMEF Sustains Training On Building Resilience Against Land-Grabbing in Rivers

Nelson Chidiebere

The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has sustained its drive to arm farmers in the oil-polluted Niger Delta region with requisite knowledge of land rights by building their resilience to fight against perennial land-grabbing issues.

The training, which is part of a lecture series for farmers in Eteo Community in Eleme council of Rivers State, is billed to build the farmers’ capacity to advocate against the nagging issues of land grabbing by the Federal Government in proxy for private international oil companies.

Speaking at the training on Thursday, February 1, the Project Manager of HOMEF, Stephen Oduwari stated that the continuous training is aimed at having a corps of farmers who are well-vested in their rights and can push for the recognition of those rights.

He said the training brought to the limelight the deception of the government using the Land Use Act of 1978 to impoverish the people, especially people in the Niger Delta.

He said: “We are here today at Eteo Community to have training with the community people on land rights and against land grabbing.

“Recall that these communities disposed of their lands, they have been stripped of their right and we are here to sit together to look at these things.

“We are here to examine the Land Use Act 1978 which takes the land from the people and puts it in the hands of the government under the pretext of putting it in the care of the government to hold it in trust for the people but we have seen that the lands and peoples right have taken from the people.

“So we see the Act as an instrument used to grab land from the people. How on earth can the government claim that what is on the surface is for the people and what is beneath is for governments, I think that is the height of deception and disrespect to the communities.”

He added: “So we are here to discuss that to forge the way forward. We are here to look at the elements that make up our rights, to examine the African Charter for human and people rights in a bid to look at those components that make us humans so that we can advocate and reclaim our lands.

“We hope that we have a corps of farmers who are well-vested in their rights and are able to push for the recognition of those rights because if they do not push for it nobody will give it on a platter.

“And for anybody to advocate for anything one must seek knowledge. If one does not know, one will not be able to advocate that is why we are taking the pains to make sure we do these outreach to communities to have them equipped with this knowledge so that together we will reclaim the land and move on with our lives.”

Meanwhile, a resource person at the training and Executive Director of WeThePeople, Hen Henshaw, said the whole essence of the sustained training is to build people’s resilience and support in reclaiming their lands ahead of a post-hydrocarbon age.

Henshaw argued that since the world is shifting its focus from oil and gas, especially with the divestment of IOCs from the onshore, it was expedient that farmers are armed with the right knowledge to advocate for reclaiming their lands.

“The reason we are having this meeting is that we realised that Nigeria and communities in the Niger Delta are at a very critical juncture in their history. This is a period where for the first time there is a global consensus that oil extraction needs to stop. Because the consequences are dire many of which include climate change.

“Part of what we are doing here is to engage those communities, build their resilience and support them in reclaiming their lives and existence ahead of a post-hydrocarbon age.

“What we are doing here is reminding them that they own the land and they have a right to their land and livelihoods and it is their duty and responsibility to protect that land and their heritage.

“It is our expectation and our hope that through this training we will very shortly see communities rising and organizing themselves and making core demands that will bring better livelihood.”

However, some of the trainees attested to being equipped with steps to demand their rights and push for ecological justice.

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