A member of the House of Lords, London, Valerie Amos, has described as very shameful, the degradation of the Niger Delta environments by oil firms operating in the region.
Amos spoke at the public presentation and launching of the report of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission (BSOEC) report. The commission was established in March 2019 by the then governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Seriake Dickson.
According to Amos, “the research and the evidence contained in the report tell the stories that are so important. The community impact of the pollution comes through so clearly and it is devastating.
“This has been on for so long. It is an absolute scandal and we should all be ashamed that we have got to this point. Those responsible, including our international oil companies, should be ashamed of the roles they have played in their refusal to take responsibility.
“Talking about this being the fault of the local communities, who can see the result of this long-standing neglect and not be moved? And yet, that is what exactly happened. There has been no accountability on the part of the oil multinationals.
“I understand that there are a lot of people who might not even have heard about Bayelsa. But I hope what people would be able to connect to and see as a result of this report is the scale of the human impact.”
While presenting the report, chair of the commission’s Expert Working Group, Dr Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou, said the document was the product of four years of tireless work put in by researchers, scientists and professionals in different fields, who went round Bayelsa communities gathering samples.
“This helped us to bring to light what the commission describes as environment genocide that plagues Bayelsa today.
“The Commission’s findings shine light on the pollution catastrophe engulfing the state and its underlying causes. Chief among them are the systemic failings of international oil company operators with the complicity of Nigeria’s political class and a dysfunctional Nigerian regulatory state.
“The report sets out a proposal to end decades-long cycles of contamination and neglect by the oil and gas industry.”
The state governor Senator Douye Diri, in his response, commended the researchers, non-governmental organisations and the commission’s secretariat that painstakingly put the report together as well as the people of Bayelsa for “coming forward to make their voices heard.”
He also lauded his predecessor, Senator Seriake Dickson, for his foresight and vision in empaneling the commission.
“I, on behalf of the government and people of Bayelsa State, pledge our commitment to act decisively and speedily on the recommendations of this report. In doing this, we remain open to robust and genuine engagements with all stakeholders.”
In a goodwill message presented virtually by Senator Seriake Dickson, the former Bayelsa governor said the report was very important and that he established the commission to be able to document the decades-long degradation of the Bayelsa environment and its effect on people of the state.
He said this was also done to have a basis to hold the oil multinationals operating in Bayelsa and the Niger Delta since 1956 to account and to be able to shift their mindset.