Youth leader urges presidency to intervene in commission’s crisis
Governors of the Niger Delta states and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have been charged to conduct an environmental audit of polluted sites in the region. An Ogoni environmental activist, Celestine Akpobari, said this has become imperative even as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) study on Ogoniland only provided a quantitative understanding of hydrocarbon contamination as against a comprehensive ecological assessment of oil damage to the region’s environment.
Akpobari stated this while speaking on the role of the media in protecting Rivers State environment at a seminar organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel in Port Harcourt yesterday.He said Rivers and the entire Niger Delta environment has been under serious threats since the 1950s when the multinationals commenced oil-mining activities in commercial quantity in the area. He noted that while oil has contributed to social the economic development of the region and country, its associated hydrocarbon has threatened the environment, livelihoods and health of farmers, fishermen and other members of society more than anything else.
The Ogoni environmental activist explained that there was nothing more that captures this scenario than the foreword to the UNEP Report on Ogoni in 2011, which declared that the history of oil exploitation and production in Ogoniland was a complex and often painful one that had remained intractable in terms of its resolution and future direction.
Akpobari said in view of the deadly and scary revelations contained in the UNEP report on Ogoni, it was a need to open up further investigation into UNEP Report by studying a critique by Professor Richard Steiner, a Consultant to UNEP disclosed that the UNEP team that produced the report on Ogoniland did not follow its own recommended procedures to comprehensively assess ecological injury from oil spills in the area.
Meanwhile, a Niger Delta youth leader, Kenedy Tonjo-West, urged the Chief of Staff (COS) to the President, Abba Kyari, to intervene in the leadership crisis at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).Tonjo-West said the call to Kyari to intervene in the impasse between the legislators and Sen.Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, over the inauguration of NDDC board members was based on Kyari’s competence as an astute administrator.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that newly appointed board of the commission was awaiting inauguration, while Akpabio has appointed an Interim Management Committee to probe NDDC’s finances and run the commission for six months.The National Assembly had said it would not have any dealing with the committee during the 2020 budget defence sessions, saying there was no provision for the committee in the NDDC Act.Tonjo-West, who is a former Senior Special Assistant to Bayelsa Governor on Niger Delta Youth Matters, said in Yenagoa that the impasse was an impediment to the commission’s progress.