Nigerian activist to speak on oil dependency at GC event

by Ed Swaray

For most of her life, Annie Brisibe said she has exposed the negative impact multinational oil companies have had on her native Nigeria.

Today, the activist and writer will share her expertise with students and faculty at 7 p.m. in Coffman Union.

“Brisibe will put a face on how our dependency on oil has impacted the culture, people and environment in Nigeria,” said Linda Buturain, a General College teaching specialist who initiated the visit.

Brisibe’s two-day visit will include a lecture, a reception and a meeting with students. The General College and the Office for University Women is sponsoring the visit.

Buturain, who designed and teaches a class about oil dependency, said Brisibe will motivate students.

“Brisibe is an excellent role model for students because she uses her academic skills to respond to her society’s needs,” Buturain said.

Education is the most powerful tool to create awareness, Brisibe said.

She said by speaking to local leaders and mobilizing society in Nigeria’s Niger Delta area, she has been able to make people – mostly women – conscious of the impact oil exploration has, including pollution and unemployment.

People are now demanding oil companies be held accountable for their actions in the region, Brisibe said.

She said the Nigerian government has not been able to help people in the Niger Delta – where most of the country’s oil is located – despite the oil revenue it receives.

But the United States continues to support the Nigerian government because it is the fifth-largest provider of crude oil to the United States, she said.

The Iraqi crisis has increased the demand for more oil from Nigeria, Brisibe said.

“We want University students who are future leaders of tomorrow to use their good judgment and hold their government responsible for their action while we do our work back home,” she said.

Brisibe said she urges people to use nonviolent means to accomplish their objectives.

Katy Gray Brown, a General College professor who teaches a course on nonviolent social change, said there are two nonviolent methods: principled and pragmatic.

In the principled approach, she said, the moral rightness of the cause is advocated. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.’s practices are examples of this.

Gray Brown said pragmatism has limited resources but draws more participants.

“It is inspiring for young people to meet someone whom so early on in life committed herself to bettering her community,” she said.

Gray Brown said she hopes many students will attend the events.