Dickson spoke in Yenagoa when the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Ambassador Bert Ronhaar, visited him.
He insisted that the oil-producing companies had refused to embrace international standards and best practices in their operations.
He said such actions by the companies had contributed significantly to environmental degradation and endemic poverty.
He lamented what he described as “the brazen manner resources of the Niger Delta are expropriated,” adding that activities of the companies had placed the region in a precarious situation.
“The ecosystem and livelihood of people in the Niger Delta have been negatively impacted upon as a result of oil exploration and exploitation activities over the years,” he said.
Dickson traced the history of oil exploration and said the Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Company struck oil in commercial quantities at Oloibiri in Bayelsa State in 1956.
But he said the area had suffered neglect. He said: “We have major issues of how to combat flooding, erosion of our communities and damaged ecosystem. There are also frightening scientific predictions that if urgent steps are not taken, most of the communities in the Niger Delta will be wiped away in the next couple of years.
“There is now a disconnect arising from the decades of what is perceived to be nonchalant attitude by the international oil companies. The communities now see the operating companies as buccaneers who do not care about them and their conditions.
“Their (IOCs) concern is only the oil and not the people’s well-being. The activities here are such that you have double standards in terms of adherence to environmental rules, regulations and procedures.”
He vowed that his administration would join forces with other stakeholders to champion the need for environmental rights and justice in the country.
“The environment has to be respected in the Niger Delta the same way it is protected and preserved in Europe and America.
“An oil spill is an oil spill wherever it occurs, whether it is in the Niger Delta or in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.
He commended the visiting Ambassador for deepening diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the kingdom of the Netherlands.
– The Nation