Renowned environmentalist, writer and Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action /Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Nnimmo Bassey has been named the recipient of the “2012 Rafto Human Rights Award.”
In an announcement made on Thursday in Bergen, Norway, the Rafto Foundation said, “The 2012 Rafto Prize is awarded to the Nigerian Nnimmo Bassey in recognition of his long-term fight for people’s right to life, health, food and water in a world affected by complex and threatening climate change and mass environhmental destruction.”
A statement by the NGO’s Media Officer, Phillip Jakpor, said the award would be presented at the National Venue of Theartre (Den Nationale Scene), Bergen, Norway, on November 4, 2012.
Bassey says, “I am honoured and humbled by this announcement. I hold the Rafto Foundation in high esteem for its commitment to human right defenders. I have campaigned on oil pollution and human rights in Nigeria for decades. Standing with impacted communities we continually demand justice. We press on, convinced that truth will prevail.
“We expect justice to be done very soon, after a major court case hearing against Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell in The Netherlands. Shell’s incredible contamination in Nigeria will be under scrutiny at a court hearing in The Hague on October 11 and the verdict is expected in early 2013,” he added.
The Rafto Prize was established in 1987 in memory of Prof. Thorolf Rafto, a professor of Economic History at the Norwegian School of Economics. Several Rafto Laureates have subsequently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
54-year-old Bassey is one of Africa’s leading advocates and campaigners for the environment and human rights, who has tirelessly stood up against the practices of multinational corporations and the environmental devastation they leave behind.
Life expectancy in the Niger Delta area is only 41 years, compared with 48 years in the rest of Nigeria, the foundation noted.
"Africa need soil, not oil," Bassey was quoted as saying in a statement.
Bassey, who is serving a second term as Chair of Friends of the Earth International, is recipient of the 2010 Rights Livelihood Award, listed as Time Hero of the Environment in 2009 and was specially honoured by the Benin Monarch, Oba Erediauwa for his contribution to environmental sustainability in Nigeria, among others.