A non-governmental organisation, Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), has raised concern about looming hunger in oil impacted communities in Niger Delta.
National coordinator Sheriff Mulade, who toured communities of Delta creeks, lamented that the pollution had got worse, and urged the Federal Government to begin environmental remediation.
He noted that the military’s approach to combating crude theft and illegal refining by burning local boats with petroleum products and littering the waterways with them, were ineffective and obsolete in preventing the illicit activities, despite serious damage done to the environment.
Mulade advised that “a better intellectual approach, reorientation and integration are needed”.
He warned that hunger was looming as the people known for having a decent source of livelihood from fishing had lost their sustaining occupations due to environmental degradation, resulting from oil exploration and over exposure of the aquatic life to poisonous petrochemical substances introduced into the waterways.
“The approach used by the Federal Government to fight against pipeline vandalism, local and illegal refining of petroleum products, which is military destruction of illegal refineries and burning of boats loaded with illicit crude oil, coupled with oil firms’ neglect of the environment, have resulted in some of Niger Delta’s environmental woes and and destruction of aquatic lives, agriculture and trade”, he lamented.
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He insisted the government and oil communities must plan for a massive environmental remediation and adopt bio-remediation to clean up the oil spills, adding that Niger Delta remained deprived as they were not beneficiaries of the oil proceeds.
“The reference point for Nigeria’s economic pride is the neglected Niger Delta that has made Nigeria to earn as much as N 7.93 trillion ( $26 billion) from oil export within six months, and Nigeria has been able to rank among the six largest revenue earner-countries in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
‘’It is painful that the area that feeds the nation is left to suffer and die in the polluted and ruined environment and without a means of creating jobs for themselves”, he said.
He called on the Federal Government and the multinational oil companies to synergise and remediate the environment and adopt environmental best practices of safe oil activities, adding that the government must act fast to stop any introduction of petrochemical substances in the waters.