Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has advocated stringent environmental laws to protect the environment against crude oil pollution and other activities embarked upon by oil exploration companies in the Niger Delta.
The governor, according to a statement from the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, made the call when the organisation visited him on a courtesy call in Yenagoa.
He said an environmental summit would be organised soon to discuss ways of mitigating the effects of oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the region.
According to Dickson, his administration will collaborate with NOSDRA to facilitate the speedy passage of the amended act of the agency, which had undergone its first and second readings at the National Assembly.
He decried the way the environment was being abused by oil firms operating in the region, and described the development as reckless.
The governor said environmental pollution had devastated the ecosystem for several decades since the discovery of crude oil in 1956.
He explained that the health implications arising from such environmental pollution necessitated the establishment of the toxicology institute to better appreciate the magnitude of the problems facing the people.
Dickson granted NOSDRA’s request to have a functional office in Bayelsa and called for the relocation of the agency’s headquarters to the state.
He said, “I have said it before that what has been going on in Bayelsa State, the Niger Delta and in all oil-producing areas is serious. The levity, with which oil companies treat the issues of the environment and the maintenance of environmental health standards, is not good.
“When you look at all of these and particularly, listen to the statistics, which I believe is only a tip of the iceberg, one is really left with no other conclusion but that we are actually facing a case of environmental terrorism.
“This is an opportunity again for us to remind ourselves that we all have a duty to work together and it is also an opportunity for us to call on all stakeholders especially the oil companies, regulatory agencies and everybody to be alive to the need to protect our environment.”
The Chairman, Maj. Lancelot Anyanya (Rtd), explained that the visit was aimed at strengthening the existing collaboration between government and the agency on efforts at curbing oil spills and its attendant effects.
Anyanya called for support in the area of developing effective institutional framework for enforcement of appropriate legislations.
The Director-General, NOSDRA, Dr. Peter Idabor, advocated the amendment of relevant laws to alleviate the suffering of oil-bearing communities.
According him, research had shown that the rate of oil spill in Bayelsa was more devastating than that of Ogoni in Rivers State.
This, he said, had been widely reported and noted that the state records about 40 oil spill cases monthly.