Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Damages caused in oil communities in Bayelsa State over the years by oil companies has been described as environmental genocide by Chairman of Bayelsa State Environmental Degradation Commission and Archbishop of York, Dr. John Tucker Sentamu.
He said he raised the alarm to draw the attention of the government to the environmental terrorism and genocide
The clergyman, who spoke, yesterday, said it would be an unfair understatement for anybody to describe the magnitude of violence done to the environment due to spillages and pollution by the oil firms as degradation.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the governor, Media Relations, Fidelis Soriwei, quoted Sentamu as having made the comment when he spoke to journalists shortly after a special Sunday service at the Government House, Yenagoa.
Sentamu, who said he embarked on a trip for about six hours along the waterways without seeing any bird flying because of the violence done to the environment, lamented that the environment had been destroyed because of unchecked pollution, leading to the destruction of the peoples’ source of livelihood and eventual death.
The archbishop blamed the oil companies for not taking into cognisance the negative effects of their activities and called on the people to speak out and draw international attention to their plight.
He said: “The problem is when you talk about environmental degradation it sounds as if it is acceptable. In other words, it is bad but not really too bad whereas genocide is a tough word, you are actually killing.
“Do you know I went into the river for about four to six hours without seeing a single bird flying anywhere? You would have expected to see them because they should be plenty but the environment and habitat has been destroyed so the people found themselves with all kind of diseases and suffering.
“What is going on is that bio-diversity is not what it should be, so we need words that actually express what the truth is.
“As I said in my sermon, corruption has become a very weak word because it doesn’t tell you who is corrupt or who is corrupting who, I will rather use the word organise theft and organised bribery.”
The cleric, who also spoke on the November 16 2019 gubernatorial election in the state, enjoined whoever emerges as governor to be a humble servant, and not to dominate and enrich himself at the detriment of the people.
According to him, a true leader is known for selfless service to the people, and not for being power drunk and the unbridled quest for wealth.