By Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HARCOURT—THE youths of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State have decried the outbreak of strange diseases in their communities, following a gas pipeline explosion.
The youths, under the aegis of ONELGA Youth Executives Coalition, OYEC, alleged that after the explosion at Egbeda-Ebocha Oil Centre last year, no attention was given to the people of the area.
Speaking on behalf the youths in Omoku, OYEC’s leader, Kingsley Ogwumike, said the people of ONELGA are being marginalised by the government at all levels and oil and gas companies operating in the area.
Ogumike said: “We regrettably state that the main source of our livelihood has been devastated by the activities of the oil and gas companies.
“Our natural sources of drinking water, aquatic life and other domestic uses have been polluted due to continuous gas flaring and oil spillages as a result of equipment failures.
“The rivers, creeks and lakes no longer sustain the people due to pollution; indeed our ecosystem has been impaired and our hitherto biodiversity decimated.
“The numerous oil wells, gas flare sites, gas plants and oil centres have degraded our environment.
“Also, researches have revealed that a very high concentration of lead, mercury, fluorides, sulphuric acids and other cacinogenous substances are injurious to our people.
“The ugly effects of the recent gas explosion at Egbeda-Ebocha Oil Centre on our people have not been addressed or was scientific auditing carried out on the pollution site.
“Poisonous and cancer-causing contaminants such as Benzene, Touene, Ethylene and Xlyene are contained in our water presently, destroying Deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, linkages in human and leads to slow death and impairments such as Oculo-Visual Health Challenges.
“We suffer serious health issues as a result of explo-ration and exploitation in our communities.”
Ogwumike also warned the Federal Government and International Oil Companies, IOCs, to immediately address the maltreatment of people of the area and the degradation of their environment by the oil and gas multinationals.
He called on all IOCs operating in their area to relocate their offices to ONELGA to impact on the lives of the people.
He noted that peace had returned to the area and wondered why repentant cultists in the area were not captured in the Federal Government’s amnesty programme, urging Agip to site its proposed refinery in ONELGA.