From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have advocated for a declaration of state of environmental emergency in Bayelsa State.
The CSOs led by Revd Nnimmo Bassey, Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) stated this over the weekend after a visit to Santa Barbara River, Nembe where the oil spill from the Oil Mining Lease (OML 29) Oil well 01 had polluted the river,
Other groups in the entourage which also had frontline Niger Delta woman activist and Executive Director of Agape Birthrights Organisation, Ms Annkio Briggs and first class traditional ruler, King of Ekpetiama Kingdom, HRM, Bubaraye Dakolo and journalists are Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth (FoEN) represented by Chima Williams, Stakeholders Democracy Network, Operation Rescue, Ondewari Health Education and Shareholders Alliance for Corporate Accountability.
The visit was without drama as the naval personnel providing security around the facility refused the entourage to access and kept the three speed boats conveying the team on the waterways for over an hour, insisting that only Aiteo can give clearance for the team to visit the site.
Bassey lamented what he called “overbearing influence of oil companies” on military arrangement in the Niger Delta noting that it was unacceptable.
According to him, after the stoppage of the leak at the well, serious efforts should be on to ensure proper clean-up and remediation measures.
He said the Nembe oil spill is the climax of spate of oil spills in Bayelsa State which require a special status as the most polluted state in the world.
“We call on the Federal Government to declare a state of environmental emergency across Bayelsa State. Bayelsa is the most polluted state in nation. It could even be the most polluted state in the whole world. Every time there is one spill going on in Bayelsa. This Aiteo well blowout is the climax of all the ravages going on in Bayelsa. All resources should be mobilized to help the people of Bayelsa. NOSDRA should b empowered to do its work. NEMA should have been here. They should have set up a major infrastructure to watch the environment and begin a clean-up of Bayelsa State and the Niger Delta following the template set up by UNEP in Ogoni.”
Speaking in the same vein, Ms Annkio Briggs, Chima Williams, and Princess Elizabeth Egbe called on the federal government to up its game and come to the rescue of the people.
They wondered why the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has not been mobilized to Bayelsa to provide relief materials to cushion the effect the oil spill has on the people.