Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa has called for the strengthening of regulatory bodies in the oil sector to make multinational companies operating in the Niger Delta live up to its responsibilities.
Dickson noted that the multinational whose activities were largely responsible for degradation of the area had cashed in on weakness of those institutions to short change the region and Nigeria in general.
The governor spoke when he received the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, who was in the Niger Delta for consultation ahead of the launch of Ogoniland cleanup by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“All of us must work to address the weakness inherent in our institutions in this country, the weaknesses which some of these oil majors are exploiting to create two standards.
“One for Nigeria and the Niger Delta, where they can pollute everyday and destroy everything and suffer no consequences at all.
“And the other, international standard, where when there was a spill in the Gulf of Mexico, British Petroleum (BP) pay billions of dollars and pounds, we have real challenge,’’ he said.
According to the governor, pollution from Agip Oil Company alone in the state is about a thousand incidents.
“I am aware of the faction of the incidents attributable to what they called sabotage.
“But let’s face the fact; who has the responsibility to protect pipelines and other facilities, who has the legal responsibility to prevent sabotage?
“Communities or those who own the licences, we have been making billions and trillions and yet the effect of sabotage is felt by innocent people,’’ Dickson said.
He said that environmental pollution by oil companies began in Bayelsa, where crude oil was first discovered in Oloibiri in 1958, adding that the state “is the epicentre of pollution’’.
“Let the truth be told, this state is the headquarters of pollution, this state is the epicentre of environmental degradation, in fact, what I called environmental terrorism.
“From 1958 till now, we have borne the brunt of providing revenue to sustain our nation.
“We are pleased and happy to do that but the other side of it is that that has also brought a lot of damage to our ecosystem.
“We commend the Federal Government for its resolve to begin the cleanup of Ogoniland, and also attempt a cleanup of the Niger Delta,’’ he said.
Dickson described himself as a “firm believer in the environment because it is the collective heritage for mankind’’.
He promised to collaborate with the Federal Government to clean up the Niger Delta.
“In this government, you are going to find a partner, a reliable partner that will work through these problems with you.
“The environment is so important to us both now and in the future,’’ he said.
Earlier, Mohammed solicited the cooperation of the governor, people of Bayelsa and entire Niger Delta in effort to clean up the area, beginning with Ogoniland.
The minister assured that Buhari would fulfill his campaign to the clean up the entire the region.