Port Harcourt — The federal government has been charged to carry out an environmental audit of the Niger Delta, in order to ascertain the level of environmental degradation in the region, and steps that can be taken to clean up and remediate the environment back to the way it was before oil and gas exploitation.
A stakeholder and former President of Ijaw Youths Council, Barr. Eric Omare, who gave the charge, noted that the United Nation Environment Program, UNEP in 2011 recommended that Ogoni cleanup should be used as template to clean up other parts of the Niger Delta.
Omare lamented that the oil pollution in Ogoniland, in comparison with other parts of the Niger Delta region, was just a tip on the iceberg, and urged the present Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission to make a clean-up of the region’s environment its priority.
He added that since the government has resolved to stop incessant destruction of oil facilities, as well as stop the activities of oil theft and illegal oil bunkering and refining activities, including their internal and external collaborators, it was imperative to commence plans to clean up the region.
“In 2011 the United Nation Environment Program came up with what is today popularly known as the Ogoni cleanup report. That study was carried out by the UNEP, and it deals with a detailed study as to the level of damage of the Ogoni environment as a result of oil spillage in Ogoniland over the years and recommended the cleanup of Ogoni land.
“UNEP recommended that Ogoni cleanup should be use as template to clean up other part of the Niger Delta because what you have in Ogoni if you go to some parts of Niger Delta, is a tip of the iceberg. What that simply means is that the entire Niger Delta environment has been destroyed by the activities of oil multinationals over the years and in recent times by the unguided activities of people who sabotage oil facilities for different reasons.
“Therefore, moving forward since the government has taken a definite position to stop incessant destruction of oil facilities and stop the activities of those who siphon our oil both internal and external collaborators, it must be followed by an environmental audit by which you will know the level of degradation that has be done to the Niger Delta environment and what step can be taken to clean up the Niger Delta environment so that the environment will return the way it was before.
“Today, people in different villages and communities in the Niger Delta who are supposed to be supplying fish to different parts of the country are now buying frozen fish to survive. People can no longer drink the natural water that most of us uses to rely on. Today, people come to cities to buy sachet water to survive.
“So for us to go back to where we were, there must be an environmental audit to ascertain the level of degradation and what can be done to clean up the environment and I expect the present Board of NDDC, to take that as part of its cardinal responsibility in collaborating with the other agencies like the federal ministry of environment which as a primary responsibility to protect the Niger Delta environment.”
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