…neglected Niger Delta is reference point for Nigeria’s economy
By Enaibo Asiayei
A non-governmental organization, Center for Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, has raised concern over looming hunger in oil impacted communities in the Niger Delta.
National coordinator of the NGO, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, who recently embarked on environmental tour around some communities in the Delta creeks, lamented that the pollution in the environment has gotten worse and called on the federal government to commence environmental remediation.
He noted that security and military approach to combat crude oil theft, illegal oil bunkering and illegal refining which often culminate in burning of local boats loaded with petroleum products and the littering of the waterways with the products has proved to be ineffective and obsolete in preventing the illicit oil activities despite serious damages done to the environment, saying that: “a better intellectual approach, orientation and integration is needed.”
According to him, fish and other sea foods were being transported from the North and Middle Belt of Nigeria to Ijaw riverine communities in Burutu, Bomadi, Warri and environs in Delta State and some communities in Bayelsa State.
He claimed that hunger was looming as the people who are known for having a decent source of livelihood from fishing have lost their enjoyed life sustaining occupation due to environmental degradation as result of oil exploration and over exposure of the aquatic life to poisonous petrochemical substances introduced into the waterways.
He further said that, “the approach used by the federal government to fight against pipeline vandalism, local and illegal refining of petroleum products which is military destruction of illegal refineries and burning of boats loaded with illicitly acquired crude oil coupled with oil firm neglect of the environment have resulted in some of the Niger Delta environmental woes and total destruction of aquatic lives, agriculture and trade.”
He insisted that the government and oil communities must plan for a massive environmental remediation and also adopt bioremediation to clean up the oil spills, adding that Niger Delta remains deprived as they are not beneficiaries of the oil proceeds which they bear the resulting health hazards, pollution and environmental degradations.
He also said: “The reference point for Nigeria’s economic pride is the neglected Niger Delta that has made Nigeria to earn as much as N 7.93 trillion ( $ 26 Billion) from oil export alone within 6 months, and Nigeria has been able to ranked the six largest revenue earners country among Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, it is painful that the area that feeds the nation is left to suffer and die in the polluted and ruined environment and without a means of creating jobs for themselves.”
Comrade Mulade called on the Federal Government and the multinational oil companies to synergize and remediate the environment and also adopt environmental best practices of safe oil activities, adding that the government must act fast to stop any form of introduction of petrochemical substances in the waters.