By Timi Black
A prominent Niger Delta environmentalist, Mulade Sheriff and foremost rights activist Comrade Ozobo Austin have called on relevant authorities for urgent clean-up of Delta state riverine communities over the massive pollution caused by the unfortunate explosion of oil-laden vessel at Escravos river in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state, Nigeria.
The call was contained in a separate statement signed by the duo which made available to newsmen in the country on Saturday morning.
Comrade Mulade, expressed grieve over the recurring pollution and degradation of the Niger Delta environment through gas flaring and other oil activities in the region, noting that there should be quick remediation of the environment.
Mulade, who doubled as the chief executive of Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice, maintained that the Niger Delta region had contributed immensely to the economy and wealth of the nation as a result of the enormous oil production activities in the region.
CEPEJ, an environmental sustainability organisation faulted the incessant pollution of the region’s environment by the oil prospecting industry, saying the development had affected the growth of ecosystem in the region.
The environmentalist, stressed that the exploration and exploitation activities of oil companies had resulted in pollution and reduced life span in the region, adding that it was the prices that the oil rich region had been paying for feeding the nation.
According to him: “Recurring oil pollution has destroyed the environment and the traditional occupation of the people, leading to high rates of poverty unemployment, criminality and violence in the Niger Delta Region.’’
Mulade, who is also the Ibe-Seremowei of ancient Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West LGA of the state, explained that there is urgent need for the oil multinationals and the Federal Government to interface and make aggressive efforts to increase the standard of environmental practices by the oil companies in the region.
He warned the IOCs to adhere strictly to environmental sustainability, adding, “the morbid situation in the region has been worsened by the poor environmental practices of the international oil companies and the failure of government agencies to hold them accountable.
“It is no more news that the exploration and exploitation activities of oil companies in the region have degraded and devastated the environment at an alarming rate, so much so that life expectancy in the Niger Delta has been reduced due to health hazards from the polluted environment.’’
He added. “Oil pollution has destroyed the environment and the traditional occupation of the people, leading to high rates of poverty unemployment, criminality and violence in the Niger Delta region.’’
Reacting, President of the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, Austin Ozobo, said that the incident was unfortunate.
His words: “We sympathise with the company operating the vessel. We heard several persons are missing. It is so sad.’’
Ozobo ,however observed that the waterways and air had been polluted with the incident causing a serious environmental impact on the area of operation.
According to Ozobo: “The fishermen and women have been affected as fishing expeditions in the sea are threatened. The entire environment has been destroyed. The implication is that the incident may equally cause a serious health challenges in the area.’’
The activist insisted that the environmental impacts bordered on health hazards, ecological effects and the social lives of the people which would be adversely affected.
According to him, the incident is also a great economic loss to the country.
He noted, “It is a setback in the dwindling oil economy in the country. The machines are multi-billion. It is a great loss. Of great worry, however, is the plight of the affected crew members which, he said, is a matter of serious concern.’’
Ozobo canvassed the rescue of every worker involved in the incident, noting that adequate attention should be given to the affected communities.