Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The federal government has been urged to investigate the spate of oil spills that have been occurring at oil laden Owaza community in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State.
Already, the devastating effect of the oil spill has raised much concern in the community as fear has gripped the people following the deteriorating environmental problems in the area.
The traditional ruler of Igiriukwu Owaza, Eze Jonathan Onwugbufor Ezere, who raised the alarm while speaking with journalists at his palace, said his people were very much worried that none of the relevant government agency has intervened to stop the spill.
He lamented that the oil spill has rendered their land unsuitable for aaqgricultural activities while water has been polluted made unfit for drinking and fishing activities as it could no longer support aquatic life.
According to the royal father, the agrarian community is now in danger of famine and diseases as farmers could no longer produce food while good drinking water is not available in the community.
Ezere specifically blamed the oil company operating at Owaza for causing his people “untold hardship” through their oil exploration activities which have resulted to soil, water and environmental pollution. He said that they have been expecting adequate compensation from the oil companies to cushion the effects of their exploration activities.
He said: “No good road, no drinking water, and no provision of good amenities that could make life meaningful in the area. Yet we are the host that produces oil and gas with which the nation is developed. We call on both federal and state governments to come to our aid and find a lasting solution to our problems.”
The Igiriukwu Owaza community said several letters had been written to the governor of Abia State through the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) to prevail on the oil company to no avail.
He also called on the Nigerian gas company and the management of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to create job opportunities and “give our sons and daughters permanent employment and not casual appointments as well as extend scholarship scheme to our children.”
Eze Ezere noted that despite the deprivations that Owaza community has been suffering, it has remained peaceful and has in no way tampered with oil pipelines in the area.
He called on security agencies to be more proactive in their surveillance so as to arrest pipeline vandals whom he alleged come from towns in neighbouring states.