Oil pollution in Bayelsa State came under worldwide scrutiny as the report of the state’s Oil and Environmental Commission (BSOEC) was released in the House of Lords in London on Tuesday.
The 211-page paper, “An Environmental Genocide: Counting the Human Cost of Oil in Bayelsa, Nigeria,” provides a thorough account of more than 60 years of oil exploration and pollution in the region where Shell made the country’s first significant commercial oil discovery.
The BSOEC was founded in March 2019 by Senator Serake Dickson’s most recent government.
Former Ghanaian President John Kufuor and another member of the House of Lords, Baroness Valerie Amos, served as honorary commissioners in addition to Dr John Sentamu, a former Anglican Archbishop of York and member of the House of Lords.
In her speech, Baroness Amos called on the international community to take action against environmental polluters, calling the poisoning of Bayelsa by oil giants outrageous and humiliating.
The MP emphasised the urgency of taking immediate action, saying the world needed to unite to protect Bayelsa from the effects of what might be considered an environmental genocide.
Clean-up will cost $12 billion and take 12 years.
Dr Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou, head of the commission’s Expert Working Group, said the report was the result of four years of arduous labour by researchers, scientists, and professionals from other areas who travelled over Bayelsa villages collecting samples.
“The commission’s findings shine a light on the pollution catastrophe engulfing the state and its underlying causes.
“Chief among them is the systemic failures of international oil company operators with the complicity of Nigeria’s political class and a dysfunctional Nigerian regulatory state.
“The report sets out a proposal to end decades-long cycles of contamination and neglect by the oil and gas industry.”
According to Nwajiaku-Dahou, the panel suggested, among other things, coordinated international action to raise and invest $12 billion over a 12-year period to “repair, remediate, and restore the environmental and public health damage caused by oil and gas.”
Senator Douye Diri, the governor of the Bayelsa State, received the report from the commission’s chair, Rt. Rev. Sentamu.
In his reply, Governor Diri praised the commission’s members, researchers, non-governmental organisations, and secretariat for laboriously putting together the report, as well as the people of Bayelsa for “coming forward to make their voices heard.”
He also praised Senator Seriake Dickson, his predecessor, for his vision and foresight in appointing the committee.
Assuring that the study will be put into practice, Governor Diri promised that his government would follow the suggestions and look for partners.
The former governor of Bayelsa stated in a goodwill message delivered digitally by Senator Seriake Dickson that the report was crucial and that he had created the panel to be able to track the state’s residents’ impact on the environment’s decades-long deterioration.
He said that this was done in order to be able to change the attitude of the oil corporations that have been operating in Bayelsa and the Niger Delta since 1956 and to hold them accountable.
Sharafadeen Isola, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, Col. Edor Obi (ret. ), chairman of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council, Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, King Bubaraye Dakolo, the Amanyanabo of Okpoama Kingdom, King Ebitimi Banigo, and other oil industry participants from Europe, as well as Nigerians living in the UK, attended the event.
Source: Allnews Nigeria