Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has accused multi-national oil companies operating in the Niger Delta of engaging in environmental terrorism.
Dickson made the accusation during the celebration of World Environment Day in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, on Wednesday.
He said for close to 60 years, the Niger Delta had suffered environmental pollution and degradation due to the activities of oil companies operating in the various communities of the region.
The governor said his administration was determined to not only make the environment a cardinal policy of the government but to ensure that the message of adherence to the rules and regulations concerning the environment is respected by all concerned.
Dickson said, “I am aware that the world’s theme for this year’s celebration is about ‘Plastic Management’. That is not entirely out of order even for us here in Bayelsa, but we are more concerned here with what you all know better than most outside here, the issues of environmental pollution, degradation of our environment as a result of the activities of the oil companies that have been operating in our communities for close to six decades.
“You have heard me say over and over again since the beginning of our government that what these oil companies are doing in our state, communities and across the Niger Delta is nothing short of environmental terrorism.
“This year, while acknowledging the importance of the world’s theme, our theme for now and moving forward is about how we take back our environment that has been stolen from us and that was why we approved our own theme for the state, ‘Bayelsa: Our lives, our future.’
“I urge you all to continue to heed the clarion call of our environment and I assure you that from now on, you’re going to hear us speak more about our environment, we will roll out different activities to sensitise our people to the dangers that we and our future are faced with as a result of the deliberate uncontrolled and unabated devastation of our environment.”
The governor said there were many actions his government would announce in due course, stressing that henceforth the government would not spare any effort in mobilising both local and international opinions about the precarious conditions faced by the people.
He urged the people to ensure that they continued to turn up whenever they heard the call of the environment.
He added, “You are all aware of the situation of our environment; you know what has gone wrong with our polluted drinking water, the devastation of our farmlands, our health conditions but we have been taking a lot of actions since we came on board.
“Some of the issues we have been facing and dealing with are less pronounced than others. Many people do not know the very profound advocacy we have mounted on the environment even as we’re doing restructuring, from 2012 till now.
“We have also commissioned a group of internationally acclaimed forensic experts who over this period have gone to all your communities and who are right now compiling the effects of this prolonged devastation and pollution on our environment, health and wellbeing.
“I have received a summary of that report and let me say that I will announce the findings publicly to the whole world which is one of the reasons I said I would call on you from time to time, if you are ready to reclaim your environment, then your government is ready too.
“The scientists in no distant time will announce the findings in that report but let me say that I am saddened and frightened about the snippets of the report that I have seen. I can clearly see the connection between the prolonged decades of pollution of our waters and creeks and the rising cases of cancer and generally the shortened lifespan of our people.
“We are in danger and that is why our theme in Bayelsa is very apt. So, I call on all lovers of our environment and people of goodwill around our wall to hearken to the call of the environment and to the calls for help by the people of the Niger Delta whose environment has been under severe and brutal attack by forces they do not control and agencies that do not report to them, that did not only invade their land and misappropriated their properties.