Fatimat Haliru —
Stakeholders on environment in the Niger Delta region last Tuesday appealed to the Federal Government to carry out immediate assessment on the region’s situation to save inhabitants’ livelihood.
The group made the appeal during the meeting of Stakeholders 2nd Niger Delta Alternative Convergence in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
According to Environews, the Executive Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Dr Nnimmo Bassey, said that the aim of the meeting is to discuss possible alternative ways to restore the Niger Delta’s polluted environment and its challenges.
Bassey stated that 90 per cent of the population in the Gulf of Guinea emanated from the crime of the industries operating in the Niger Delta, as well as pollution from the neighbouring countries very close to the national borders.
“We are concerned that we have to do all we can do in securing our environment and to ensure that it is liveable,” Bassey said.
He said that the meeting is to set an agenda so that those who are representing the region in government must be held accountable for their promises on what the Constitution requires and what they are expected to do for the Niger Delta communities in terms of socio-ecological problems of the nation, when they are sworn into office by May 29.
Bassey stated that something needs to be done urgently to save the livelihood of the Niger Delta people in the poisoned and hazardous environment.
“We, the Niger Delta people, collectively noted and appealed that the Federal Government should have immediate comprehensive audit of the entire Niger Delta region on environment, livelihood, health, social and economic impacts of crude oil and gas extraction.
“Remediation of impacted places, restoration of human and ecological damages caused by extraction activities, and reparations for the irreversible damages endured by the people for the last 64 years,” he said.
Bassey urged the Federal Government to produce a framework and guide for how oil companies disengage from areas where they have operated.
The environmentalist also stressed the need for government to draw clear policies on divestment to enable the people know their expectations from community and investors.
He urged government to draw a comprehensive resolution of artisanal refinery by addressing the issues that led to it, and providing workable solution, insisting that all oil theft must stop.
Bassey also called on legislators to review the Petroleum Industrial Act (PIA), to remove all the clues against the communities, and immediate public release of forensic audit report of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the review of the law binding that agency.
In his address, Chief Suanu Baridam, the Chairman of the occasion, blamed the representatives of the Niger Delta people in government positions for non-active performance on the environmental challenges facing the region.
Baridam also faulted government of insincerity in the clean-up of Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta region, saying that government should assess the sincerity of the agencies handling the project before certifying their work.
Similarly, Mr Ken Robinson, the spokesperson of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), expressed displeasure over the alleged non-inclusion of flooding in the 2023 budget of states and federal government.
Robinson said that 2023 flooding prediction as announced by Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) would be severe.
He urged government agencies in charge of disaster management like National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to be at alert and make proper planning to cushion the effects on the coastal communities, saying that the flood damages may be repaired, not avoided due to its coastal nature.