Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Oil producing communities in the Niger Delta wednesday insisted on the immediate reintroduction of the 10 per cent proposed for the clean-up and development of their lands in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before the National Assembly
Several representatives of the host oil communities and activists who spoke during an Environmental Awareness Programme at the Oloibiri Oil Well in Otuabagi, Ogbia Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, also called on the federal government to embark on mopping up the oil that has destroyed the environment.
Oil was first drilled in commercial quantity in Nigeria on June 26, 1956 at the Oloibiri oil well 1 at the rate of 5,000 barrels per day.
However, the 12,008 feet oil well has dried up with only a monument put in place by the Federal Ministry of Tourism and National Orientation in 2013 to show the relics of the once commercial oil facility.
During the event organised by the Nengi James Foundation in partnership with civil society organisations, the participants advocated an end to crude oil spills and gas flaring in the region.
The programme tagged: ‘Role of Fossil Fuels on Climate Change’, the organizers said, it was part of the global week of events to raise awareness on the need for communities to support government’s efforts to clean up the Niger Delta.
Mr. Napoleon Ofuruma, a former Chairman of Ogbia Local Government Area who spoke on behalf of the landlords of the communities of the nation’s first oil well, lamented that oil exploration in the area has brought environmental devastation and sufferings to the people.
With the drying up of the oil in the area, Ofuruma noted that the people have not been able to return to farming and fishing because the lands and creeks are now polluted.
Director of the Environmental Rights Group, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Mr. Nnimmo Bassey, stressed the need for the nation to break free from fossil fuels, which according to him is a major driver of climate change.
In his comments, the facilitator of the programme and founder of the Nengi James Foundation, Mr. Nengi James, stated that oil extraction had resulted in the pollution of communities, coastal erosion and ocean surge as well as climate change.
James, who is also the Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in Bayelsa State urged the Federal Government to grant at least 10 per cent of the revenues to host and oil producing/bearing communities to fast-track development of the areas.