The Bayelsa Government says it will support the coastal communities affected by the January 16, 2012 explosion in Chevron’s rig who are now seeking for compensation from the oil company.
The state’s Commissioner for Environment, Mr Iniruo Wills, gave the assurance to the people in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa on Sunday.
He said the ministry was taking a holistic view at the plight of the communities with a view to assisting the victims to get redress.
Wills said the state government was exploring all options to amicably resolve the conflict occasioned by the blow-out at the Chevron’s oil fields off Bayelsa coastline in 2012.
“As a government, we see oil companies as partners yet we are custodians of the environment, and hold the right to protect the environment in trust for our people.
“So, when there is an incident like the blow-out in Chevron’s KS Endeavour rig, we shall stand by our people and assist them in whatever way we can to get redress,” he said.
The commissioner said the state government remained committed to protecting the environment for future generations.
He said the task of preserving the environment was a collective one and regretted that some members of the oil communities also indulged in practices that degraded the environment.
Wills pointed out that such practices included oil theft and artisanal oil refining as well as vandalising oil pipelines.
According to him, the environment has been left to fend for itself and also betrayed by the people of the Niger Delta region.
“Indeed, we have not been fair to the environment. We have used the environmental justice argument to win 13 per cent derivation fund.
“The NDDC, Amnesty International and many other organisations have helped us to gain from the environment but how much have we given back to it?
“Even though NDDC has been under funded, with an annual budget of N250 billion which is a lot of resource, the situation in the region has improved lately,” he said. (NAN)