By Etop Ekanem
Deputy Governor of Delta State, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, has said Delta State Government is considering an international summit to address increased environmental pollution/despoilation occasioned by the alleged burning of vessels containing illegal oil and spilling of contents into the waters/environment by the Nigerian military.
Otuaro stated this while playing host, in his office at Asaba, to a delegation of the group, “Search for Common Ground,” powered by the United State Agency for International Development, USAID. The USAID group led by Mr Borve Paago-Immabel said it was in 36 countries in peace-building efforts and was ready to contribute to finding solution Niger Delta issues, farmers-herders clashes and environmental pollution allegedly caused by the military which the group said was unabating despite exposition of their acts by the Delta State Government.
“On the issue of increased environmental despoilation by the military, I think as a government, we do not think you can solve a problem by simply looking the other way. I want to let you know that an international summit is on the way where foreign missions, security agencies, relevant government agencies, international development partners, communities leadership amongst critical stakeholders will be invited to chart a way forward to this unacceptable problem,” Otuaro said.
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The Deputy Governor said the Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa-led Delta State Government came in with clear policy thrust aimed at creating social harmony which cannot be possible without creating an attractive and conducive environment.
“Your activities are therefore very complementary to what we are doing in the state. You have more than the cooperation and collaboration that you seek, please”, Otuaro told the USAID team.
“As a government, we have long put institutional frameworks in place to pursue and sustain peace. We have the Delta Waterways and Land Security Committee, Delta State Orientation Agency, Job Creation via STEP, YAGEP amongst other programmes towards self-reliance for our teeming youths with thousands graduated and given starter packs”, Otuaro said.
“I happen to head the Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities. Following complaints for which I led a team on helicopter-driven aerial tour/assessment, we found pollution of the environment to be massive and unacceptable allegedly worsened by the military at work in the area. We saw fit and intend to put in place an international summit to end the alleged military pollution of the waters and environment of the Niger Delta which has challenged the source of livelihood of the people”, he said.