ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has decried the pollution of the rivers and water bodies in the Niger Delta by oil companies’ activities and human wastes.
HOMEF, therefore, called on the relevant authorities to heavily sanction those polluting the rivers and seas to ensure that the region’s water bodies do not continue to be treated as dumpsites.
It sought the support for the defence of the biodiversity of the water bodies in the region.
HOMEF urged all those interacting with and utilising the water bodies to do so with respect and place the wellbeing of the rivers and dependent communities before profit.
HOMEF’s position was contained in a statement on Thursday by its Media/Communication Officer, Kome Odhomor, wherein the HOMEF Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey,
was quoted as speaking during the official inauguration of River Ethiope Basin Institute, Delta State.
Bassey said: “The call to preserve our water bodies is a responsibility for all of us. If we fail to protect and preserve our rivers, we will continue to have situations where fishermen fish all day and return with nothing or where coastal communities depend on imported frozen fish for nutrition.
“We decry the massive levels of pollution in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as rampant sea piracy in the region. Those who pollute the rivers and water bodies should be held accountable to ensure that our rivers do not continue to be treated as dumpsites.
“We want to challenge those in the academia to listen more to community elders and help pass the knowledge learnt to the younger generation.
“A drop of oil can contaminate 25 litres of water. Imagine the extent of pollution in our rivers and ocean by the millions of barrels of oil that have been dumped into them over 63 years of reckless oil activities.”
Bassey applauded the management of Delta State University and the leadership of River Ethiope Trust Foundation on their partnership to establish the River Ethiope Basin Institute.
He observed that the river is one of the cleanest in the region and stands out as an example of what water bodies were like before the arrival of the oil industry and their polluting activities.
In his remarks, a foremost Nigerian Architect and community member, Chief Charles Majeroh, gave insights into how the water bodies could be preserved.
“The only way to preserve the River Ethiope is to ensure that human wastes are not deposited into our rivers and also ensure that there is minimal dredging of the river to enable it to breathe freely,” he said.
He also urged business owners around the River Ethiope area to be more intentional in the protection of the waterfront.
On his part, Executive Director of River Ethiope Trust Foundation, Urikefe Dafe, stated that the REBI would be a platform for research into the river.
He said the institute would also be a launch pad for the sharing of knowledge and the fight for the recognition of the rights of the river.
“We all have a role to play in saving the environment. See something, say something,” Dafe said.