Sunday, 16 March 2014

Dear Turkana County MCAs, While You Were In Singapore, Ekales 1 Was Burning

Our lives begin to take a wrong course when men of substance like some people we know begin to keep quiet when human rights violations and environmental degradation initiatives of unspeakable magnitude are happening right in their midst, or as my grandmother would tell us, a stone-throw away from us.  Environmental Conservation is the mother of all livelihoods and a clean environment is the prerequisite of development and healthy lives. In a world characterized by climate change and environmental degradation by, among others, multinational corporations and private investors; there is need to remind everybody that the community has a right to a cleaner environment and that these rights are non-negotiable and heavily guarded under article 42 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. There is therefore an urgent need to remind oil companies and any other bad boys that Kenya has ratified a considerable number of international conventions and treaties on the environment and that human beings and legal persons of any description operating in the piece of land called Kenya must and should abide by the provisions of any municipal and international law on environment. I am an ardent subscriber to the school of thought that explains that that which doesn’t bring with it positive results should leave you as you were and not bring with it negative consequences.
I refer to an incident that happened in Ekales 1, Turkana County less than ten days ago and in which a life-threatening activity was carried out by Tullow Oil, without notice to the leadership and the pastoral community aboriginally residing in the area that has now turned to be hosting the black gold. The company knew that it could do as it wished, after all, the entire municipal leadership of this forgotten corner of the planet were in some Malaysian Airlines jet like plane above the Atlantic on their way to Singapore in their now infamous “Singapore Excursion”. Many questions still remain unanswered on why a high-profile self confessed oil giant in the name of Tullow Oil that is on record for playing the bad-boys-game in some neighbouring countries would still engage in such horrendous acts in blatant disregard of both the Kenyan and international law. An oil company that has no policies or doesn’t abide by its policies on environment is the worst thing that can come on the way of a pastoralist or any other citizen of the world residing in any corner of the planet. What shocks more is when known environmentalists would absurdly lend credence to the omissions and commissions of the oil company in Turkana County when they actually know what was being done was contrary to the basic tenets of environmental conservation and general be-your-brothers-keeper law of nature.

It is the duty of citizens, Oil Company, civil society, the media and Kenyans from any part of the country to interrogate the conformity of what is happening in Turkana generally with international best practices on oil exploration. The lives of over 5,000 poor, illiterate and literally unexposed Kenyans are in the cards. When people we know should protect us are busy doing their own things and occasionally holding brief for the “enemy”, we know that more worse is to come.

Meanwhile, let’s pray to God.

Ekai Nabenyo is a Youth Leader, Law Student at the University of Nairobi and was named a 2014 Spark Kenya Change Maker by Spark International- Kenya

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