ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has called for urgent remediation of the state’s environment following years of degradation and neglect.
Diri made the call at a state banquet in honour of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon, in Yenagoa, a statement by his media aide, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said on Wednesday.
He decried the hardship suffered by the people because of the exploration activities of oil multinationals, saying the development had destroyed the state’s ecosystem.
Diri drew the attention of the international community to the injustice and environmental despoliation of the land that has fed the nation economically.
He said despite measures by the Federal Government to address the issue, they only amounted to nothing due to insincerity and lack of political will.
Diri said: “I like to place on record that our environment that has been raped and degraded over the years is seeking remediation.
“The previous administration, as a result of the level of degradation, decided to set up an environmental commission headed by the immediate past Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
“Its report has yet to be fully addressed. We have some part of it and we believe that it would bring to limelight what the people of Bayelsa have suffered, particularly in the hands of oil exploitation and exploring companies.
“Our environment, particularly our water resources, are heavily polluted. Our economic activities have been crippled over the years because of the same reason and even when the federal government has taken some measures to address this, they are more like a slap on the wrist.”
He hoped that the state’s partnership with the UN would address most of the issues highlighted and usher in sustainable development to the state.
Also speaking, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon, lauded Diri for stabilising and ensuring peace and security in the state, saying that there is no development without peace.
Kallon emphasised that peace and development were only possible when strong institutions drive development.
The UN coordinator also noted that the international body was not unaware of the injustice meted out to the Niger Delta people and their environment.
Highpoint of the event was the honour and decoration of Diri, his wife, Dr. Gloria Diri, and the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, as Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) champions.