Illegal Refineries: We Are In Danger, Bayelsa Governor Cries Out
The black gold (crude oil) that God blessed Nigeria with in its Niger Delta region is a huge source of revenue, but it has made more persons poor in the region, with their lands polluted and destroyed.
The sweet crude has given birth to pockets of illegal refineries in the region and Bayelsa State is one of those locations you will find them in their numbers.
Smoke and more smoke, go up daily from their activities, making the air even deadly for inhabitants in the area.
Diseases are springing up and one of them is cancer, which now leaves the Governor of Bayelsa, Seriake Dickson, worried.
It was a revelation he made when the led Bayelsans in a march against the On-going Environmental terrorism in Bayelsa State by major Oil producing companies.
The March tagged 'Our Lives, Our Future' kicked off from
Ekeki junction and ended at the Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre, Ovom Yenagoa.
Addressing the participants of the march, Governor Dickson stated his intention to set up a Task Force that will check illegal crude oil refineries in the State.
He said that environmental hazards from the illegal refineries are some of the major problems Bayelsa faces as a state."
"My administration had engaged the services of internationally acclaimed forensic experts to compile the effects of prolonged oil pollution on the environment and health of the people in the State.
"I am saddened and frightened over the report of the Oil Spill Joint Investigation Team.
“With the serious case of pollution, the rising cases of cancer in our communities, we are in danger, serious danger," he said.
His pains could be felt in his voice, as he speech was tainted with anger.
He wants collective efforts to reclaim the environment, as he observed that decades of Oil pollution and gas flaring in the State and the Niger Delta have resulted in rising cases of health hazards, thereby shortening the life span of the people.
These illegal refineries also degrade the environment and destroy lives while polluting the already compromised environment, he stressed.
He further explained that they have not only invaded the land and expropriated their property but are now threatening to exterminate the people.
“A lot of actions would be taken and we will mobilise local and international opinions on this.
“There are legislative measures that the State Assembly will undertake,” he told the gathering.
He also bemoaned the exclusion of the people in the Oil and gas industry.
While the theme for this Year's World Environment Day "Beat Plastic Pollution" focused on plastic management, Bayelsa State coined 'Bayelsa, Our Lives, Our Future' as a way to highlight the devastating effects of Oil Companies neglect, spillage and its negative effect in the Niger Delta.
The Commissioner for Environment, Mr Ebipatei Apaingolo, was also at the event and he said Bayelsa was the most impacted State in oil pollution from the activities of various oil companies operating in the Niger Delta.
"My ministry participated in 274 Oil Spill Joint Investigation visits on Agip facilities and recorded 580 cases of oil spill," he told the gathering.
He revealed that the Oil companies were not free from such incessant incidents of Oil spillage and no adequate compensation or significant environment clear-up had been made so far.
Commissioner for health, Professor Ebitimitula Etebu, said emission of hydro carbons arising from oil pollution and other activities cause respiratory diseases which eventually shortens the life span of Bayelsans.
They called for collective efforts in recycling wastes for wealth and creating jobs from them.