31 May 2014, Yenagoa — The National Oil Spill Directorate and Response Agency said on Monday that it would engage communities in its disaster risk reduction plan for oil spill management in the country.
NOSDRA’s Director General, Peter Idabor, spoke at a town hall meeting in Yenagoa on the dangers of pipeline vandalism and resultant effects of environmental pollution.
The meeting had in attendance leaders and members of Ikarama and Kalaba communities in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
It was organised by the agency in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the state Ministry of Environment.
Idabor said the programme was conceived in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda for sustainable development.
He said it was a pilot scheme that would be replicated in other communities within the state and the entire Niger Delta.
“This programme is to integrate and mainstream active community engagement into the DPR Plan for oil spill management in Nigeria with a view to achieving community driven, community-monitored, community-evaluated and community-sustained system of environmental protection.
“Over the years, it has been observed that since the discovery of oil in Nigeria in 1956, the non-existence of a community based strategy of risk reduction on the danger of oil pipeline vandalism, and the resultant environmental pollution have been constituting serious limitations in the petroleum industry,” he said.
Idabor stressed the need to envision a community based approach and engagement that would culminate into a blueprint of action with strategic outcomes.
“This project is a pilot scheme that is expected to be replicated in other communities within the state and the entire Niger Delta.
Its success is our collective responsibility. If we misuse this onerous opportunity to write our names in gold in the history of the region, we may not have time to recover lost grounds,” he added.
He noted that fostering and strengthening this relationship would increase awareness on the life-threatening dangers of pipeline vandalism in the country and Niger Delta in particular.
“Since the focus is centred on community driven approach with support from the partners, we hope to institute a synergy that will not only be long term but also change our perception on risk reduction,” he said.
He further urged the Ikarama and Kalaba communities, the state and local government authorities to collaborate with NOSDRA to sustain the noble initiative.
*Igoniko Oduma-Daily independent