24 March 2014, Yenagoa – Environmentalist and activist, Mr Alagoa Morris, has called on the delegates at the national conference to address the incessant oil spills, gas flaring and other negative environmental practices which the people of the Niger Delta had complained about over the years, but still raging on.
Morris who is the Bayelsa State Field Coordinator, Environment Rights Action/Friends of the Earth and former secretary, Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO in the state in an interview with Vanguard in Yenagoa, warned that failure to address these contentious issues could plunged the region into another round of violence.
“One area of concern to most Niger Deltans is the area of environmental sustainability and human rights,” he said and urged the representatives of the Niger Delta and all lovers of sustainable environment at the conference to right the wrong of over four decades.
“To avoid a repeat of another round of violence in the Niger Delta region, I call on our comrades and representatives in the on-going confab not to forget that the oil spills, gas flaring and other negative environmental practices that our people complained about in the 90s are still raging on.”
He noted with regret that the people of the region were dying before their time due to pollution from the oil exploration and exploitation activities of the multinationals. “There has not been much significant changes on how the Federal Government and her business partners, the oil companies treat the Niger Delta environment as they go about their exploration and exploitation of the black gold since Ken Saro-Wiwa raised the red flag and his eventual murder for same.
“Although environmental/rights groups have never relented since then, the above was one of the main reasons youths of the region gave for carrying arms against the Federal Government and oil-multinationals.
“It will be inappropriate not to remind Nigerians of property and lives lost while militancy sailed in the Niger Delta creeks. Many youths of the region, soldiers and other community folks lost their lives. Apart from drastically reducing crude oil production, hostage taking/kidnapping and bringing the name of Nigeria to ridicule in the comity of nations, the act of kidnapping which emanated from the creeks is now common place in the country.
“No one is safe anymore, as even relations of the President are not spared, even journalists. It was agreed that what led to militancy was the criminal neglect of the environmental damage caused by oil exploration/exploitation and gross underdevelopment of the Niger Delta region.”