27 March 2014, Yenagoa – Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, has advocated stringent laws for the protection and preservation of the environment against crude oil pollution and other activities caused by oil exploration and exploitation activities in the Niger Delta.
Dickson said this when members of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, led by its Chairman, Major Lancelot Anyanya (retd.), paid him a courtesy visit, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, on Wednesday.
The governor also said an environmental summit would be organised soon to discuss ways of mitigating the effects of oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the region.
He expressed his administration’s commitment to collaborate with NOSDRA to facilitate the speedy passage of the amended act of the agency, which had undergone its first and second readings at the National Assembly.
He emphasised the need for international oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to protect the environment, lamenting the way and manner the environment was being abused with “reckless abandon”.
Dickson described Bayelsa as the most fragile and highly compromised area, where environmental pollution had devastated the ecosystem for many decades since the discovery of crude oil in 1956.
He explained that the health implications arising from such environmental pollution necessitated the establishment of the toxicology institute to better appreciate the magnitude of the problems facing the people.
He granted the request of NOSDRA for a functional office in the state.
Dickson, therefore, called for the siting of the headquarters of the agency in Bayelsa as the state its host to the bulk of oil and gas operations in the region.
As part of the efforts to address environmental problems, the governor proposed that the Federal Government should build receptacles to evacuate crude oil recovered from illegal refineries as well as design mechanisms for effective and proper remediation of impacted areas.
He said, “I have said it before that the oil companies have been treating the issues of the environment and the maintenance of environmental and health standards with levity.
“When you look at all of these and particularly listening to your chilly statistics, which I believe is only a tip of the iceberg, one is really left with no other conclusion but that we are actually facing a case of environmental terrorism.
“What has been going on in the Niger Delta since the discovery of oil; a situation where more than one spill takes place in Bayelsa every day, going by what your statistics is telling us and all these sites are treated with reckless abandon and the environment is left to fend for itself, the livelihood and in fact the lives of the people and the ecosystem are not attended to. What then is more of terrorist action than this?
“This is an opportunity again for us to remind ourselves that we all have a duty to work together as government to government and it is also an opportunity for us to call on all stakeholders especially the oil companies, regulatory agencies and everybody to be alive to the need to protect our environment.”
In his remarks, Chairman of NOSDRA, Anyanya, explained that the visit was aimed at strengthening the existing collaboration between the government and the agency on efforts at curbing oil spills and its attendant effects.
He commended the state government for initiating a baseline study on the toxicological impact of oil exploration on the Bayelsa environment and called for support, especially in the area of developing effective institutional framework for enforcement of appropriate legislations.
In his comment, Director -General, NOSDRA, Dr. Peter Idabor, advocated the amendment of relevant laws to alleviate the suffering of oil bearing communities.
According him, research findings indicate that the rate of oil spills in Bayelsa was more devastating than that of Ogoni in Rivers State, which had been widely reported, adding that the state records about 40 spill cases in a month.
– The Punch