…Says our people are endangered

…Calls for protection of fishing routes

By Samuel Oyadongha

GOVERNOR Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has described the raging crude oil spill in Nembe creek of the state as the worst he has seen in his lifetime.

An unhappy Diri visited the spill site in the mangrove swamp, yesterday, in company of top government functionaries, including the member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Dr. Fred Agbedi; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere, among others.

The OML 29 Well 1 platform, which is operated by Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil firm, Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited, has been spilling crude unabated into the Santa Barbara River for about one month.

An estimated two million barrels of crude have reportedly been spilled into the river, polluting the flora and fauna of the area.

Diri lamented that the continuous leakage has further endangered the lives of people of Nembe, Bayelsa and Niger Delta.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, the governor, said: “Today happens to be a very dark day for me. What we have seen, I believe, is worse than what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. In all my life, I have not seen such magnitude of oil spillage.

“Our people are endangered. Our people’s source of livelihood is endangered. I empathise and sympathise with the people of Nembe on behalf of the government and people of Bayelsa State.

“I like to give you hope that we will stand shoulder to shoulder with you. Your government will activate every constitutional means to arrest and redress this magnitude of oil spill.

“I, therefore, call on the Federal Government, the operators of the oil field, NNPC and Aiteo to immediately look for a superior technical know-how to contain and stop the spread of the oil.

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“For Bayelsa, the only thing we know how to do best is fishing. Today, our own fishing route is endangered. I equally call on the Federal Government to immediately react and ensure that our fishing route is safe.”

Diri also decried the exclusion of indigenes of host communities in the running of the oil industry, saying that if indigenes were part of the operations of the oil field, they would have looked for ways to address the problem.

To ameliorate the suffering of the people, the governor has directed the State Emergency Management Agency and Ministry of Health to immediately provide relief materials and healthcare services to the people.

Earlier, the chairman of Nembe Local Government Area, Hon. West Alalibo, and member representing Nembe constituency II in the state House of Assembly, Edward Brigidi, appreciated the governor for embarking on an on-the-spot assessment visit to the site.

They revealed that the spill has caused water and environmental pollution, which is hazardous to the health of the people.

Also speaking, chairman of Nembe Council of Chiefs, Chief Ekpeleyai Oruwari, appealed to government and the operators of the oil well to stop the oil from spilling into their environment.

Chief Oruwari stated that the spill has polluted their environment leading to a damage of their source of water and means of livelihood, adding that the people’s lives are in danger due to the polluted air.

He appealed for the provision of relief materials to ameliorate their plight.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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