Nigerians living near the Niger Delta are astonished by the nonstop attention paid to the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. The delta region has endured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every year for 50 years by some estimates.
As many as 546 million gallons of oil spilled into the Niger Delta over the last five decades, or nearly 11 million gallons a year. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 dumped an estimated 10.8 million gallons of oil into the waters off Alaska.
The spills here are all the more devastating because this ecologically sensitive wetlands region, the source of 10 percent of American oil imports, has most of Africa’s mangroves and, like the Louisiana coast, has fed the interior for generations with its abundance of fish, shellfish, wildlife and crops.
“We don’t have an international media to cover us, so nobody cares about it,” said Emman Mbong, an official in Eket. “Whatever cry we cry is not heard outside of here.”