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All Nigerians Can Have Access to Affordable Health Services: Dr Amayo Speaks

 

Dr Cal Amayo, of the Ethiope Foundation, has awakened a team of medical and non-medical professionals at meeting recently to a hopeful fact by announcing to them that Nigeria as a democratic nation has the capacity, infrastructure and personnel to provide adequate basic to medium (and in some areas advanced) levels of health services to its citizens, albeit, using a novel integrated approach that is practical, workable and affordable. The product of thorough previous and recent (and ongoing) research "Coordinating Health Care in Nigeria: Disasters, Emergencies and Routines", Dr Amayo emphatically stated that the only thing lacking in the provisions of Nigerians with good accessible and affordable health care is good "coordination through incentives" between institutions and participants within the sector. Though given a brief introduction, we look forward to understanding how the interplay of coordination and incentives can significantly improve the provision of health care services both quantitatively and qualitatively, simultaneously. Dr Amayo's announcement at the meeting in question was not the subject of discussion; it will be at the next meeting.

 

The details and techniques employed in Dr Amayo's new approach to health services coordination in Nigeria of shall be analysed and reviewed on here in the very near future.

 

Grimot Nane 

Posted @ 04:28:43 on 08 September 2014  back to top

Healthy Politics or the Politics of Health: Nigerians Choose

 

An interesting time for the Niger Delta and rural areas is fast approaching. One may ask, how can the Niger Delta devastated by oil pollution, unsustainable practices, poor corporate social responsibility and misgovernance without any serious history of remedy be awaiting interesting times? The answer is simple. A major political event is soon to occur, the 2015 general elections in Nigeria.

 

Nigerian politics as demonstrated by elected and unelected officials as well as those who lost elections or failed to get political appointments has been called many things. "Politics of the Stomach" is perhaps the most generic term and harsher terms like "kleptocarcy" and "cabalocracy" are commonly used even by the major politicians themselves. As Claude Ake stated far back as 1973 at the dawn of the oil boom, the politics of Nigeria is held together by "oil". "Oil politics" in Nigeria is said to breed rapacity not only greed, sabotage not only inefficiency, irresponsibility not only neglect, all making it fit for the term "Dutch curse". However, Nigeria was never cursed by oil. How can possessing vast quantities of the richest resource ever used by mankind and that has led to the greatest progress in human history be a curse? I prefer to call it a "heinously abused blessing" complete with crapious exploitation (insider and outsider) and the unacceptable faces of Nigeria politics. Thus the Niger Delta is a region becraped instead of a region flourishing, Nigeria as a whole is no different.Dr Cal Amayo, head of the Ethiope Foundation, a thoroughly non-political NGO, has a special take on the issue concerning the fortunes (misfortunes) of the intersection the Niger Delta, rural areas, health and politics. A ranking medical professional in London, UK who trained and practiced in Nigeria for several years has become highly concerned about an ever-widening gap in practice. He sees the exceptional improvements in medical devices, equipment, procedures, knowledge, management and safety a as well as medicines, support provisions and practitioner responsibility on the one hand in the West. On the other hand he witnesses of a medical system in changing at snail pace, with short-term or unsustainable attempts (some very grandiose) at its revival and much needed development in Nigeria. The gap has gone from comparable to incomparable.


In leading the work of the Ethiope foundation Dr Amayo has re-identified an avenue to establishing health facilities and systems in Nigeria. Politics! In order to have a good health system there must also be a healthy politics. "Healthy" in this context is no mere wordsmithing. Through the lens of a medical paradigm, governance and government failure is the outcome of a political decay and underdevelopment taking the form of complex disease and syndromes. Politically and otherwise Nigeria is ailing. Only those benefiting from the politics (much less than 5% of the population) may see it as healthy, well for themselves. Politics of the stomach is alive. Metaphorically speaking, how about the "politics of the head" or "politics of the gonads" or "politics of the respiration" or "politics of the liver" or "politics of the circulatory system"? Medically speaking, a well fed or overfed stomach is of no use to a seriously ailing brain, lung, testicle, liver or bone marrow. Political ailment also means ailment in every aspect of daily life. Dr Amayo emphasises that unlike medical problems one cannot treat political problems with antibiotics, chemotherapy, surgery or cognitive based therapy but is curable. He suggests that the cure is possible through progress piecemeal policy changes by politicians, pressure groups, social movements and social enterprises.

 

The politics of health is the arena whereby Dr Amayo has defined his own contribution to a healthy politics. Why not? Politicians in Nigeria like elsewhere need sufficient votes from people in their various constituencies to win elections. The conditions and well-being under which the voters in a politician's constituency are born, live and die should be a crucial concern of politicians not just the numbers that turn out to vote for them or that they can buy. The politicians know well that the people are poor and hungry but exploit this by giving rice (and other foodstuff) as vote-winning inducements at election time only. There is nothing worse than poverty and hunger in breeding mental and physical illness. Millions die in Nigeria of tetanus, malaria, septicemia, malnutrition, hydrocarbon poisoning etc. These are all death dealing ailments that could have been prevented by affordable if not cheap jabs, medicines, nutrition prophylactics etc.

 

In a free marketed world we see countless government interventions in countless public services in the developed world. Health is not an 'avoidable cost' for Nigerian politicians as many claim only because they have to appease the dictates of the Washington Consensus, which is now thoroughly dated. Nigeria did once have good and even excellent health systems. Structural adjustment put paid to all that with health services being the biggest hit casualty. The distress this has caused the nation is enduringly unfortunate but can be thoroughly remedied systematically. Health is to be a primary cost for all political parties and politicians who get into power.

 

The unassessed dangers and risks arising from the absence of adequate health systems in Nigeria faced by millions on a daily basis are unspeakable. The death from malaria like many easily curable diseases at affordable prices (if you live on much more than $1.25 a day) is grossly under-reported. Many diseases cannot even be diagnosed because of a lack of facilities, and where diagnoses are possible treatment facilities are only available overseas. A compounding factor is a steep lack of health awareness among Nigerians. Death and illness are still in the 'age of superstition' in the minds of many Nigerians; infections by viruses and bacteria, exposure to toxic materials, anemia due to malnutrition, autoimmune and hereditary diseases have caused many deaths and illnesses that "witches", "enemies" and "evil ones" are held responsible for often with severe consequences for suspects. The only solution to these unassessed dangers and risks is the introduction of well-perpetuated, sustainable and consistent health systems. We are not talking here of "budgets for health" that are diverted away from proper the implementation of health projects.

 

Dr Amayo having completed a broad consultation exercise, is in the last stages of drawing up generic guidelines for the development, necessity, planning, implantation and review of a sustainable, workable and affordable health governance in Nigeria with an emphasis on areas that lack medical facilities altogether such as rural areas and the Niger Delta (for its state of emergency in health terms). Dr Amayo's commitment to health system development is thoroughly non-political and thoroughly medicine focused but he emphasises the nature, size and quality any health systems in any society are ultimately determined by the government of the day. A good health system is excellent evidence of good governance and vices versa.

 

Politicians should be thinking good health systems and voters should be voting to be provided with good and improvong health systems. That health is wealth even or especially after the experience of serious illness is a popular experience Nigerians should look forward to and thoroughly demand. The ballot box is where it will or should begin. So is it healthy politics or the politics of health? We should all choose and fight for both vigourously says Amayo.

 

Grimot Nane

Silent Holocaust in the Niger Delta?

 

The Niger Delta region is situated in the southernmost part of Nigeria and it is where most or all of Nigeria's oil wealth comes from. By implication it is the region that makes Nigeria the eighth largest producer of oil in the world. However, the same Niger Delta is one of the most wantonly devastated areas in the world resulting from intensive large-scale exploitation of oil and gas reserves. The Niger Delta as a top "ecocidal hotspot". Minor and major oil spillages are common, frequent and ubiquitous causing untold pollution and ecocide with highly devastating impacts on the lives and livelihoods of the people who reside in the region. There seems to be a sleek everywhere; on the water (the Niger Delta is constituted of the riverine terrain), on the land (in the villages, in the towns, on farms, in houses, in schools, in churches) and in the air to even though by the ocean. Animal and plant life in the ecosystem have suffered a terrible terminal fate. Everywhere, there is oil pollution. However this is an endless perennial story, usually more of the same.

 

One new issue about the environmental devastation in the Niger Delta, is largely a very silent one which at best constitutes a continuous incidence of genocide or even more disturbingly a potential Holocaust. The UNEP Report (2011) was dedicated to a rigorous scientific investigation into pollution in the Niger Delta of which the analyses produced were disturbing. A reading of the report will intimate you with some very belief-defying facts regarding benzene pollution and contamination and the degree of human exposure to it; let us say all day, every day without hopes or opportunities of escape. Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon that is a constituent of crude oil. It is also a volatile organic compound which means it vapourises easily especially in the tropics. The resident of the Niger Delta breathes in more benzene vapour than cigarette smokers would do in a day. The Nigerian government does not have to ban smoking then since people get their benzene directly from the air that is supposed to be fresh. Tests show that water contamination by benzene be it surface water from rivers and ponds, be it groundwater from boreholes and wells, be it rainwater from the sky; it is all dangerously polluted with benzene. The water table has long be thoroughly contaminated. The US Congress in 1974 Congress passed the "Safe Drinking Water Act" to control pollutants that could cause adverse effects to the health of people. It set amongst other things the safety limit for benzene in drinking water at 5ppb and anywhere it was found that potable water exceeded this limit it had to be treated with immediate effect. The results of specific experiments conducted in the report demonstrate that groundwater and surface water often contained up to 1000 times the safe level of benzene in water which is 5 ppb. As essential as air and water is to human existence the residents of the Niger Delta are denied this necessity and right simply because their ancestral lands (many recent and new settlers live there too) are very rich in oil reserves. A myriad of herbs and substances are commonly used by the residents to partially or completely mask the taste of benzene just to make the water "swallowable"; the alternatives are thirst and dehydration in one of the hottest parts of the tropics. Benzene is certainly more insidious than causing harm in lungs and stomachs; it can be very effectively absorbed through the skin causing havoc via the circulatory and lymphatic systems.

 

The invisible impact of the benzene pollution and contamination is the health hazards it creates for people. The benzene which the people are inescapably exposed to is both genotoxic and carcinogenic and a long trail of severely expired and diseased people is the consequence. It is known to efficiently cause sudden death or death in a short time, hours or days. The most notable diseases caused by benzene contamination are (a) bone marrow damage: aplastic anaemia, (b) leukaemia, (c) mutations / changes in circulating blood cells, (d) developmental and reproductive defects, (e) alterations in immune response e.g. immunosuppression, (f) nerve damage and (g) cancer e.g. Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Health symptoms such as vomiting, tachycardia, drowsiness, convulsions, tremors, sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, irritation of the stomach, confusion, unconsciousness etc. are less scary but soon culminate into the aforementioned diseases considering the level of daily exposure the residents' experience.

 

According to Dr Cal Amayo of the Ethiope Foundation based in London, the real tragedy of benzene pollution and contamination for the people of the Niger Delta is that there are no hospitals or medical facilities to test for and monitor the named diseases anywhere in the Niger Delta. No one knows how many people there are suffering from benzene related diseases in the present and how many suffered the same in the past. Certainly no one can tell another the death toll resulting from benzene contamination in the Niger Delta, not even a rough estimate. The fate of many an indigenous Niger Deltan is living on land that has generated close to a $1 trillion in oil revenues but have to die a painful, untreated, protracted and silent death as a consequence.

 

The source of benzene contamination in the Niger Delta is oil crude production. There is no end to the production of crude oil and there is no clean-up of the oil spillages no matter how many times a high court or appeal court will order the culpable oil corporations to do it. "Produce and pollute" without any responsibility is the doctrine of the oil corporation with the watertight complicity of the Nigerian government. There will be no withdrawal from production and no withdrawal from polluting the land, air and water by the oil corporations; there are stuck on the land in an unbreakable relationship to make ever more profits. So there will be more of expanding benzene pollution and contamination in the land by default. Government and corporate promises to clean-up the Niger Delta so far are worth little less than the decibels at which they were pronounced.

 

That there is severe benzene pollution and contamination in the Niger Delta is a fact. That it has been responsible for genocide or even a Holocaust is something everyone is ignorant about suppositions will not suffice. But in this case ignorance is certainly not blissful. The unaccounted death toll could easily run into the millions. As Dr Amayo declares, "we shall do something about". Maybe the solution lies in the hands of independent minds and groups.

 

Grimot Nane

To Cook a Continent: A Review and a Comment

REVIEW:

 

To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and Climate Crisis in Africa is yet another book about Africa's exploitation but with a significant difference from all others. The author presents the challenge "what can be done now to end destructive exploitation in Africa?". This is a far more superior and immediate question than "what can we do for Africa?" in which tomorrow never comes; everyday, every year, every decade is always now.

 

The book is largely practical. Institutions of good governance are grossly underdeveloped while institutions of exploitation are over developed to point of destructiveness, irresponsibility and genocide. An in-depth analysis of the forces that exploited Africa for centuries is well-rendered. Slavery (humans as a source of energy), colonial powers (Great Britain, France, Portugal etc.), neo-colonial powers, institutions and NGOs (international development ministries of economic powers, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund etc.), corrupt indigenous governments and leaders (too many to mention) are discussed in both historical and contemporary contexts. The reader is introduced to the harsh and terminal consequences of destructive exploitation across the African continent. It will provide a very sober awakening for many readers even Africans in Africa who have been systematically shielded from the historical and (practical) contemporary realities of the continent's wanton exploitation. The political economy of Africa is given a refreshing new treatment especially the neoliberal fuelled upheavals institutional and structural reforms that have made exploitation so much easier and wanton.

 

To keep destructive exploitation on the continent going, Africa has to experience many evils and woes. Bassey using numerous examples presents us with experiences of dying or perniciously exploited communities. But that is not all; we are introduced or re-introduced to other sinister aspects of exploitation. African governments have to be corrupt and compliant to both transnational corporations and international NGOs. Civil wars for access to minerals have to be sponsored and kept going for as long as local resistance to extraction exists. Oil pipelines have to remain perpetually in a state of disrepair as an avoided cost to upgrading the networks. Artisan mining has to be encouraged and relied upon because it is cost effective. People have to be displaced from their homes when it is found they sit on top of a mineral resource with inadequate compensation. Gas flaring to enable oil extraction have to contribute vast amounts of greenhouse daily for decades on end enhancing the impending approach of climate change. Death counts from man-made disasters, mining accidents, production of hitherto unknown toxic substances, the repression of resistances etc. are reduced to mere statistics; something to whip Africa with. The death, serious pollution and heinous environmental degradation are treated as "collateral" for development. Yet, development is mostly elusive on the African continent and far behind exploitation.

 

Apart from mineral exploitation the book covers land grabs by North for the purpose of producing biofuels and agrofuels. Nationhood and war was once about land. Africa's land is now silently "grabbed" without a whisper. Climate change that appears much later in the book exposes the risks of flooding and other potential climate related disasters. It appears as if if Africa has any valuable resource it must be grabbed regardless of the consequences for its peoples and its lands. This is the central problem the book explores.

 

The solution Bassey provides to ending destructive exploitation in Africa before it is too late is 'Keep the oil in the soil and the coal in the hole and flee the gas fracking business.' He intuitively knows that metropolitan capitalist societies of the North will not agree to that solution; they have a lifestyle, way of life to maintain. Sponsored civil wars by Northern interests, governments and militaries to secure the mineral resources will be the first and last option. Like Mancur Olson who saw cataclysmic bloody revolution or invasion by a military enemy as the only way to get rid of corrupt vested interests that stifle economic and social progress in a nation, Nnimmo completes his solution by "waiting" for the present day incarnations of Africa heroes past, who wanted the best for their citizens. Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara and Amilcar Cabral are some of such heroes. They are the ones who can keep the minerals in the ground and defend the states they govern simultaneously. But as we wait Bassey reminds us and strongly emphasises that "Resistance is Advocacy"; the resistance starts yesterday! Do something about destructive exploitation now! This appears definitively to be the central message of the book after a prodigious build up. And should be taken seriously by those who care enough about the issues explored. In this sense it can be seen very much as an activist's book.

 

From a literary perspective, Bassey's publication compares favourably with Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges which I read immediately before To Cook a Continent. (Also see Eradicating Ecocide by Polly Higgins) The difference is that while Bassey articulates centuries of corporate and government excesses with negative environmental, economic, social and political consequences in Africa for centuries, Hedges introduces readers to similar occurrences resulting from the excesses of unrestricted "corporatocracy" and "inverted totalitarianism" in the USA, the world's richest nation. Interestingly, both authors firmly advocate that the time to end resource exploitation and environmental degradation is now with a hint that it may already be too late.

 

It is a book I highly recommend to readers who are interested in Africa, development, environmental issues, social impacts of extraction, the nature of ecocide and the political economy of trade with developing nations. However, it is also a good read for those who are take current affairs or activism seriously or at least more than lightly.

 

COMMENT:

 

An apparent weakness of To Cook a Continent is the wide breadth and high number of examples of destructive exploitation that has blighted Africa. To most non-Africans this is a tedious and even exhausting aspect of the book. However, Bassey is speaking to numerous Africans directly all over the African continent simultaneously. The book is a very African book without being Afro-centric; there is something in it for everybody.

 

My late father J.D. Tadaferua is a freeborn of Jesse; that is our ancestral hometown. Bassey gave good mention to the Jesse Fire Disaster (JFD) in 1998 that struck with over 1000 deaths and numerous more casualties as victims. While the disaster was caused by a pipeline explosion, the then military-ruled government's (under General Abdul Salaam) first reaction in a public statement was to declare that the victims needed no sympathy because they were "thieves stealing petroleum products from a NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum) pipeline". The state of disrepair of the pipeline was never mentioned. In fact, arrests and investigations of local residents were threatened by the government. I sadly lost two second cousins in that disaster; many who died as a result of it I knew personally. One cousin had died on the spot. The other cousin died a painful death of an infection because he (like countless other victims) had fled their hospital beds paid for by their own families for fear or arrest and conviction. Before anyone jumps to the conclusion of a "guilty conscience fears no accusation" if you are arrested under such (or other) circumstances in Nigeria the best deal you will get if spending "a fortune" getting out of custody. That is how corrupt the police force is with the backing of government. This a main reason for the pernicious under-reporting of crime in Nigeria; even the persons reporting the crime have to pay something "good".

 

The Red Cross and other NGOs provided generously for the surviving victims of Jesse Fire Disaster  many of them dying daily mostly due to inadequate medical care. Some Big Men of Jesse (Chiefs) quickly and expediently resorted to diverting bags of rice and other groceries, medical supplies, blankets and sleeping bags etc. to their households leaving the dying to die and the surviving to suffer for surviving. The role of the local elite which Bassey emphasises in his book is not "comprador bashing". It is the way things are in Nigeria. While reading the book I contacted a number of Jesse people including a couple of politicians. Only one knew about the presence of the JTF (Joint Task Force) in the Oben (gas flare fire) environs. So even people at home do not really know what is going on. The only institutions of mitigation for fire disasters present pasts and future are  violent ones e.g. the JTF and the military, bent on repression and murder.

 

When I read about the JFD in the book he was speaking directly to me. Residents and indigenes of other areas in Africa devastated by unrestricted destructive exploitation are also spoken to community by community. It is an impressive writing technique I am yet to be able to categorise. Bassey should continue talking to these people.

 

Grimot Nane

Resisting Ecocide: Crimes and Rents

 

It is interesting to know that the Niger Delta is listed third out of "ten hotspots" of ecocide in Polly Higgins' Eradicating Ecocide. I have written a review of the book on this blog for two reasons: its project represents the amalgamation of my three main research interests namely, corruption, institutions and green economics, and it is a very interesting visionary book. The fact that the region has been classified as an ecocide hotspot saves me the need to describe the monstrous environmental and human degradation going on there in the name of Nigeria being a "middle-income nation" and doubling as an "improving nation" within the provisions and expectations of "transparently globalised profit-seeking". Transparency for what it is worth washes its hands of a lot of things and especially ecocide.

 

Ecocide in the Niger Delta is a stark reflection of the staple corruption that sadly afflicts Nigeria. Ecocide resulting from activities of extractive industries generates large profits for companies as well as lucrative rents and bribes for the ruling elite and their supporters who facilitate or 'promote' the nefarious activities of the companies.  When profit making is illegal it is crime but when it is legal it is a rent. Acts of ecocide are thus a necessary "spin-offs" of rent-seeking in this context, well in Nigeria. While several authors try to distinguish between corruption and rent-seeking, they are both perpetrated in the same arena with the same intentions and outcomes, and under the same conditions. Higgins is actively seeking to transform a popular rent into a popular crime in the near future using the legal infrastructure and mechanisms of the United Nations.

 

The legality or quasi-legality of irresponsible profit seeking within Nigeria's border has permitted oil companies operating in the region to ruthlessly adopt the mission statement of "internalise the profiteered benefits into our coffers, externalise the cost of ecocide to the land and inhabitants". Genocide against the people of the land, particularly under the reigns of Gen Sani Abacha, Gen Abdul-Salaam Abubakar and Gen Olusegun Obosanjo has become a "necessary" adjunct to the interest oil companies perpetrating ecocide in Niger Delta. Furthermore, ecocide in the region has caused the exploited peoples of the land to take up arms in defiance to the cost of ecocide that blights them and proceeded to fight mini-civil wars against state and company. Such conflicts have resulted in instances of genocide against the people at the hands of a better equipped national army that take orders from the power elite who have a unrelentingly desperate interest in keeping the oil money flowing into their private accounts by supporting oil companies no matter the cost of ecocide. We can see clearly why Higgins classifies ecocide as 'crime against peace', ecocide is not peaceful and neither are the means in perpetrating it. The government is more responsible for ecocide in the Niger Delta than the oil companies because it can say NO to operators perpetrating ecocide, but it chooses not to. It must be noted that governments of Third World nations who say NO to oil companies can easily be toppled and replaced by one that will say YES to them; the is one of the functions of power elites. The power elite of Nigeria get their wealth directly or indirectly from the workings of 'oil rentier state'. The rich and comfortable (i.e. less than 2% of the 160 million citizens) are rentiers or proxy rentiers with close ties to the government as insiders or influencers of insiders; they are the real problem. One wonders if the Niger Delta people really know who responsible for their tragedies?

 

Irresponsible profits are always tempting and hard to prohibit, so no beneficiary will give up access to such without a fight especially when the process or means has been previously legal. But big players will always fight from behind the scenes by creating regulatory, legal and political resistances and stumbling blocks to anything that threatens their incomes and power. Who will resist laws that effectively eradicate ecocide in the Niger Delta or elsewhere in the world if they become robustly enforced on an international level by the United Nations which Polly Higgins is actively pursuing with the support of the government of Ecuador? If we use Mancur Olson's logic, the main resistance to eradicating ecocide would come from a crop of special interest groups such as corporate leaders, top government officials, influential politicians, industry unions and leading free-market ideologues. These special interest groups tend to rewrite laws to suit their needs or prevent legal or regulatory changes that go against their privileges. And they are very able or generous enough to get what they want no matter the government in power. The resistance would be simply a means to maintain the profits, power and influence of the interest groups but in the name of the market, economic growth miracles and increasing utility. So how would ecocide be resisted?

 

Again using the logic of Olson, the resistance against ecocide law will come in two phases. Firstly, there would be pre-ratification resistance. This would involve the special interest groups lobbying their guynes in the UN and in national governments to water down, obfuscate, confuse, complicate or inflict hernias on the law before it is ratified so industries can continue perpetrating old, new or future forms of ecocide. Secondly, there would be post-ratification resistance which would again involve the lobbying of international and national lawmakers but this time to "deregulate" ecocide laws for one noble reason or the other as a front for seeking or maintaining irresponsible profits. Post-ratification resistance would also entail corporations (with the help of governments as exemplified by the Niger Delta and Nigeria) that will simply disobey the laws and spend years in the international courts fighting the allegations of violations while still making profits out of ecocide. Perhaps the most effective resistance against ecocide would be ideological. The ideology of neoliberalism and consumerism would be updated to include persuasive arguments at everyday folk that will inform them that their rights, freedom, choice, well-being and utility depend on "limited ecocide". Limited ecocide is like saying being "a little bit pregnant" which has no meaning of any kind. It also may be the case that only very large corporations would have the capability to perpetrate ecocide after the UN has fully criminalised it just as rich nations can invade sovereign poor nations as they will even though it is criminal to do so under international law. And that would be a problem.

 

If there is the existence of corruption in government there will also be incidents of ecocide where the land can be destroyed for resources. Perhaps the eradication of both corruption and ecocide are complimentary to each other; and this may add to the complexity of eradicating both problems. A fusion between anti-corruption and eradicating ecocide might produce some interesting, restorative and humane outcomes for humankind and its future, hopefully, especially in Niger Delta and the other main ecocide hotspots with corrupt governments.

 

Grimot Nane 

Grimot Nane

Eradicating Ecocide (Book Review)

 

Ecocide eradication as both a concept and an institution of (enforceable) international (and local) application is creating a popular stir of concern for its critics and enthusiasm for its supporters, respectively, this is going to get more serious as the ascendance of both its acceptance and the resistance to it unfold. Acceptance often takes time and resistance wears out with time, so time will decide the fate of ecocide law as a legitimate institution. The one main innovation of the book is the complete replacement of the concept of mitigation (market-driven sustainability) with concept of eradication (legally-protected responsibility) as an approach to saving the planet from lapsing into a moribund state. The mitigation approach to tackling ecocide is presented as effete since it fosters a deeply entrenched accommodation of the enslavement and exploitation of the planet by corporations, simply to serve the logic of pecuniary justice and the imposed fetishes of the global market. Profit in itself is not condemned but irresponsible profit is; responsible profit preserves the natural state of the planet while irresponsible profit kills the "living" planet. The author contends that it is the "irresponsible" quest for profit that is "killing" the planet and sustainability approaches are good for "irresponsible" profit, hence creates a paradox. Only eradication approaches to preserving the planet by way of creatively introducing strong, binding and enforceable international laws that adequately criminalises ecocide using existing legal infrastructures suffices to solve the problem. The other main innovation of the book is the formulation of ecocide as the 5th Crime Against Peace alongside genocide and others. The book is not short on innovation or rethinking.

 

As an economist, my main interests in the book are the economic possibilities and implications. Eradicating ecocide would require major industries (particularly oil and mining) to seize to function or even exist or alternatively find radically innovative ways of operating. The author takes the leap dealing with the problem ecocide upstream rather than downstream. Such a requirement is an ostensible affront to the very foundations of (mainstream and other) economics e.g. the creation of wealth from natural resources; increasing utility (consumer satisfaction and producer profit); the efficient allocation of scarce resources; the quest for ever-positive economic growth; the paramountcy of the resource-transforming firm in an economy; and the freedom of choice of agents to consume and produce as they will. It is inevitable that economists and corporate executives would defiantly resist or dismiss the provisions ecocide law as impractical or even absurd. Politicians and government officials would choose to do the same not only because of their alliance with corporations but also the resulting massive contraction in their tax base. However, there are a significant number of economists and growing who contend that the present approaches to economics and the economy are "pre-moribund". An economics that has become autoimmune to the existence of the systems it supports needs serious rethinking anyway, a widely acknowledge necessity within the profession. Ecocide can play a significant role in such a rethink; the author reminds us of the Jevons Paradox as she articulates the overly dependence of the global economy on a finite fuel. The author also advocates and economics of abundance rather than an economics of scarcity. The book takes the radical step of suggesting the upstream-oriented formulation of (economic) governance of natural resources since economic policy is mainly formulated from the stuff of the downstream manifestations of activities i.e. consumption and redistribution with production rendered almost implicit. The economics of ecocide might well be a serious and prominent research project in future.

 

The author deftly abhors naïveté about the strategies and tactics which corporate executives, politicians and government officials use to undermine or subvert existing laws, regulations and institutions established to protect the environment in simply order to facilitate "irresponsible" profit and endeavours to provides a strong  framework to eliminate such violations effectively. The author also provides significant evidence of the cost and evils of ecocide perpetrated against both the planet and people. Essentially, the author advocates and provides a no-nonsense framework for the reconfiguration of international and local law so that it works as prescribed; the perpetrators of ecocide would be prosecuted adequately according to their crimes; the punishment will be exacted on culprits not "fictitious persons" called corporations.  From an institutional perspective, ecocide eradication law and regulation has the overwhelming potential of acquiring the status of strong legitimacy and popular expectation amongst everyday people and perhaps they will unrelentingly demand it or even fight for it. Who would want to oppose the establishment of such an institution other than interest groups that have a lot gain from perpetrating ecocide?

 

Eradicating Ecocide is an interesting and informative read and is unique in that it is quite far "outside the box" i.e. distant enough to (1) provide the much needed change to the appropriation and expropriation of the planet that is only possible by exploring and re-configuring well-protected [forbidden territories]. And (2) close enough to be practical, workable and answer a very real and important need within a new perhaps transforming paradigm. All in all, the stuff of ecocide perplexes because of its sheer simplicity, insight and audacity. Whether the book provides a self-contained solution to the problem it seeks to redress or will necessitate further works that culminate in a monumental solution to the same is something I would keenly like to see.

 

Grimot Nane

 

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