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Address Environmental Degradation And Ecocide In N’Delta

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Address Environmental Degradation And Ecocide In N’Delta

By Katherine Abayomi, Port Harcourt

Environmental activists have called for an urgent clean-up of the Niger Delta. The group called on Mr. President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to uphold his sworn commitment to national renewal by calling for swift action to resolve the Ecocide (Environmental Genocide) in the Niger Delta, that increasingly threatens the continued existence of the entire region.

Given that the president has been aware of the Ecosystem of the Niger Delta has for 17years been plagued by unprecedented perennial pollution from petroleum production activities, the group’s cry for the worsened highly dysfunctional, conflicted, and compromised environmental regulatory system ever since commercial oil was struck in oloibiri province before Nigeria’s Independence which has ranked Nigeria’s Niger Delta amongst the worst oil and gas-polluted regions in the world.

In a statement made available to Newsnowng which was signed by Executive Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) Dr. Nnimmo Bassey MFR and Otive Igbuzor Executive Director (centre LSD), the duo noted that amidst global dynamics of the 21st Century, particularly in the context of climate change/action, Nigeria cannot continue to act as if ignorant of the importance of its biodiversity endowments and ecological imperatives.

It also stated that “There are many countries we can benchmark, which produce more oil, gain far higher revenues from it, but still jealously and profitably protect their environment and ecosystems. Norway which has a trillion-dollar Sovereign Wealth Fund from petrodollars (and a population of 5.5 million, against Nigeria’s 228 million) is a prime example, but ensures its waters stay pristine, enabling its robust fishing and marine industries. Scotland and the UAE are others.”

Also, “The protracted social injustice of funding national development at such extreme ecocidal expense of communities in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, or communities wherever else in Nigeria, needs to be urgently redressed, without any pretences as witnessed under previous Administrations. With the ongoing divestment of their remaining onshore holdings in Nigeria by the major international oil companies (IOCs), and their huge outstanding environmental liabilities thrown into legal uncertainty, thereby portending further risks and escalation of social tensions for communities.”

The group recommends that to resolve the environmental crisis and create an unprecedented legacy in the Niger Delta and Nigeria in general, amongst other cardinal priorities, the following actions should be taken such as creating a Niger Delta Environmental Remediation Programme and Trust Fund which is either independent of or domiciled in the extant Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) currently overseeing the cleanup of Ogoni Land, but with a separate Trust Fund from the Ogoni Trust Fund. To avoid or minimize re-pollution, optimize production, and abate associated insecurity, enact a carefully articulated approach to this economic crime. The new strategy should be preventive, proactive, inclusive, accountable, and look beyond current official reliance on state and non-state military methods that can often be tragically counterproductive, as results have shown intermittently.

And part of the existing Ecological Fund, at least to cover immediate region-wide impact and cost assessments, a portion of the statutory funds of the Niger Delta Development Commission, whose statutory mission expressly includes an ecological/pollution resolution mandate that is largely neglected since its inception, Decommissioning liabilities and restoring funds in oil mining agreements and international environmental, climate and impact funds/resources that can be leveraged through appropriate strategies and channels.

The group says it is pertinent to halt the ecological genocide in the Niger Delta and other areas ravaged by the scars of extractivism is a task that cannot be postponed. They call on Mr President and his team to do the needful and give Nigerians a safe environment to live and flourish in dignity.

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