By Samuel OYADONGHA
Yenagoa – TROUBLED by the ongoing large-scale environmental despoliation being unleashed on the already fragile Niger Delta ecosystem, the chairmen of the eight local government councils in Bayelsa State have promised to assist the state government to tackle illegal bunkering and illegal refinery business in the riverine enclave of the state.
Southern Ijaw in the heart of Bayelsa which is one of the largest local government areas in the federation and Ekeremor council area in the West Senatorial district are the hot bed of illegal bunkering and illegal refinery business in the predominantly riverine state.
The labyrinth of creeks in the deep mangrove swamp of Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor council areas are facing some of the worst environmental challenges inflicted by crude oil thieves and illegal refinery operators.
Though the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield have repeatedly raided and destroyed the illegal refinery sites in the creek, it is still business as usual for the crude oil thieves and illegal refineries operators, many of whom are operating and living side by side with the natives.
At an inaugural interactive meeting between the Local Government Chairmen and the Governor held in Government House, Yenagoa, the Chairman of Southern Ijaw Local Government and Chairman, Association of Local Government of Nigeria, ALGON, in the state, Tiwei Orunimighe reiterated the readiness of the councils to collaborate with the state government to curb the thriving, but environmentally unfriendly illicit trade.
The meeting was held at the instance of the Governor to address certain issues bothering on Local Government Administration and activities of illegal oil bunkerers and illegal refinery in Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor council areas.
The state ALGON boss, Orunimighe, assured that the Local Government Chairmen, were ready to sustain the security level in their respective council areas.
Assuring the governor of their resolve to collaborate with the governor the boss said, “you have shown us your direction already. You have shown us your action plan. And from your inaugural speech, you have shown also. On the part of the Local Government, we want to assure you of our unalloyed support and loyalty.
“On our part, may be to some of us, we have not been this close, that is political any way. If you want us to serve, we can serve. We are loyal and committed. We believe you are here to serve the people and you have demonstrated this several times. On behalf of the Local Government Chairmen, we are here to support this government and to the best of our abilities and we will support you the way you wanted it. We will at all time you call us, any time you call, we will come because we have no option than to serve our people.”
Orunimighe said they would join hands with the security forces to confront the problem of illegal refining which is further devastating the environment.
Other Local Government Chairmen in attendance include the reinstated Kolokuma-Opokuma Council boss, Ebikitin Diongoli, Waribugo Sylva of Nembe and Peres Peretu of Sagbama.
Governor Dickson assured that a task force would be set up in the state to tackle cases of pipeline vandalism and illegal refining activities in the state.
The governor noted that illegal oil bunkering not only constitutes economic sabotage but is also causing widespread environmental degradation of the area.
Governor Seriake Dickson informed the Council Chairmen that the illegal activities were again confirmed recently during an over flight of the area with refining activities going on.
The Governor who said the task force will set up machineries to enlighten the people of the area on the inherent danger associated with pipeline vandalism, stated that illegal bunkering was not doing any good to the environment