Oil Spill: How IOCs hide under Federal laws to intimidate, exploit Niger Delta communities – Bayelsa govt
EBIPATH Apaingolo, Bayelsa State Commissioner for Environment on Saturday blamed the International Oil Companies (IOCs) for hiding under federal laws of the nation to intimidate local communities in the Niger Delta states.
The Bayelsa State cabinet member also accused the IOCs of treating the locals with levity, explore the oil yet destroy their environment.
Lamenting over the situation during a live Channels TV programme – Biodiversity Loss in Nigeria, Lagos, Apaingolo said after polluting the environment, the firms still shift the blame on the locals describing it as third party interference or equipment failure.
“Can you imagine? They treat our people with levity, take our oil, and destroy our environment…….even after they must have admitted that it was equipment failure, they still blame it on third-party interference,” says Apaingolo.
“These are issues we are contending with. They hide under federal laws, intimidate our people, sometimes they even give small money to some groups that they feel are the ones that will give them problems and sponsor those people against the rest of the community.”
There have been several reports of the oil spill in the Niger Delta region in recent years. About 3, 500 activists across the globe had been on the IOCs, advocating cleanup exercise.
Though a number of actions were taken full remediation of the polluted lands, especially Ogoni is yet to be actualised despite Federal Government promises.
Responding if states were inclusive in taking the locals along on its activities to protect the environment, he said the state government during the last World Environment Day (WED), though themed Beating Plastic Pollution, the state government took advantage of the peculiar problem to sensitise the communities.
“Our people are dying of strange diseases…..so we are saying no to oil pollution. Criminalise oil pollution because we cannot continue like this. In our time this must stop.” he added
Alade Adeleke, an environmentalist called for a local strategy from the state government to manage oil pollution and directly deal with the oil companies.
Olufemi Lawson, a member of Global Environment Alert, urged the Federal Government to renew its commitment to protecting the nation’s biodiversity and the locals.
“If we begin to look at the consequences that have followed years of pollution, occasioned by oil spillage in the southern part of Nigeria, you begin to see it beyond mere environmental issues. You could term it as environmental terrorism if you look at the implication on the people.”