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Leading environmental right activist working with Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Rev. Nnimmo Bassey has traced the observed cold feet of the federal government in enforcing environmental discipline amongst International Oil Companies (IOCs) to the negative body language of leaders of thought and government officials from the Niger Delta region.
Speaking at a workshop, convened by G24 Embasara Foundation, a pan-Ijaw group, in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, he decried that “The attitude of our leaders in the Niger-Delta region has made the environmental component of the Petroleum legislation to be at the background rather than the forefront.”
Explaining more on the theme; Keys to Visionary Leadership, Good Governance and Sustainable Environment, he lamented bitterly that the rural communities in the region have suffered cruel dreadful conditions, saying “even when the 13 per cent derivation was not enough to mitigate the disaster, their governors were misapplying the funds by only facing urban centres and leaving ruralites to the realities of worst environmental exposures.
Bassey argued further that the Niger Delta environment had suffered wanton pollution and negligence due to lack of native leadership with interest to protect the environment, as well as regulatory environment that has led to ‘ecocide’ and destruction of the natural ecosystem. According to him, “Oil production depletes environmental resources, for every barrel of oil, there is over 13 barrels of toxic effluents that come from the oil wells and nobody gives account of these wastes which the oil firms discharge into the environment.”
Continuing, he recalled that “We have about 6.5 million people involved in fishing-related activities threatened by the oil industry, which employs some 5,000 people; our leaders should think of the jobs of the majority and channel resources to developing renewable energy.”
He hinted leaders in the region that the so called 13 per cent will soon end as the future of hydrocarbon fuels is within years with the advent of renewable energies now powering automobiles.