Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, an environmental justice activist and human rights defender, started his advocacy from his university days. Since then, he has been involved in several projects aimed at improving the lives of his local community in the Niger Delta.
Over the years, he has focused more in improving the lives of the youth, especially keeping them away from criminal activities.
“I was motivated into activism in 2005 when I was admitted into the University of Port Harcourt. I realised that many of my fellow students were paying or sleeping with lecturers to have marks. Some were into cultism. I was not happy about that and started talking to them to stop that,’’ he told Daily Trust on Sunday.
He said he faced a lot of opposition towards his campaign to sanitise the conduct of academic activities on campus, which led him to creating a platform to further sell his ideas.
He said he continued with his advocacy even after graduating, and in 2017, following a training he received in the United States of America on advocacy and how to work with oil companies to drive development in his community.
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He said that following this he set up the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria or Advocacy Centre). He is currently the executive director of the centre after resigning his job in 2019 to take up full responsibility of activities.
“The organisation has achieved so much within a very short time.
We have come up with a proposal called “Presidential Artisanal Crude Oil Refining Development Initiative (PACORDI)” on July 27, 2020 to the federal government on how to end the issue of pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, artisanal refineries, illegal bunkering and pollution through alternative livelihood opportunities in the Niger Delta.
“The PACORDI Doctrine proposes the innovation, modernisation, standardisation, legalisation and integration of artisanal refineries into the national economy,’’ he added.
According to Fyneface, the YEAC is also in the frontline for an advocacy to urge the federal government to issue approval for 18 modular refinery licences for artisanal refiners in the Niger Delta.
“Our aim is to mitigate organised crime of pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, pollution and support sustainable youth empowerment and development.’’
He said the platform also established modular refinery multi-purpose cooperative societies for artisanal refiners in Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Akwa-Ibom states so far as a platform for artisanal refiners to receive modular refinery licences for legal refining activities and alternative livelihood opportunities to stop pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, artisanal refineries, illegal bunkering and pollution. He said the YEAC also established solar mini-grid electricity facility in communities without electricity in the Niger Delta, starting with Umuolu community in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State.
This, according to him, is to discourage crude oil theft, artisanal refineries and pollution by providing alternative source of energy to patronizers of illegally refined petroleum products while contributing to the fight against climate change and providing alternative livelihood opportunities that can be powered with stable and uninterrupted electricity to boost the local economy.
Another project embarked upon by the group is the establishment of a “Network on Organised Crime in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea (NOCINAG) “as a grassroots regional network that generates information, data, intelligence and share with security formations and operatives to strengthen the fight organised crime in the Niger Delta, Nigeria and the Guinea.
He said the group has also sent a proposal to the federal government for the establishment of a coast-guard mechanism to be known as Nigeria Coast and Boarder Guards (NCBG) that collapses all government-private security contracts into a standby supportive security mechanism against crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, while also working to mitigate drug trafficking and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, among others, to strengthen homeland security efforts.
In order to ensure youth involvement in addressing the various problems facing the region the centre also set up a One Million Youth Volunteers Network of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters in the Niger Delta to monitor the environment, as well as the setting up of a Crude Oil Spill Alert System (COSAS) that reports incident of crude oil spill in communities across the Niger Delta, share information with the media and have both the oil companies and regulatory authorities include the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to respond to the oil spill, safe the environment and safe the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers in rural communities.
Fyneface has not stopped at embarking on projects to improve the lives of the communities in the Niger Delta, he has also authored/co-authored over 20 different publications, including reports, books and research papers on different subject-matters covering climate change, artisanal crude oil refining, Ogoni/Niger Delta clean-up, flooding, photography, cultism, piracy, cyber-terrorism, renewable energy. This, he said, was to provide for a better understanding of the environmental issues in his region by policy makers organisations and individuals.
“Through a better understanding of the situation, it is my hope that both the government, non-governmental organisations and individuals would be able to come up with better ways of addressing the problems,’’ he said.
For the 40-year-old Fyneface, who hails from Kabangha community in Khana Local Government Area, Rivers State, the journey to ensuring a better environment in the Niger Delta is possible with cooperation from all and sundry.