A safe environment advocacy group, the SING Foundation, on Wednesday staged a public procession along the streets of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital to mark the world environment day with a call on the federal government to end gas flaring in the state and the Niger Delta region at large.
Members of the SING, supported by officials of the Environment Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN), said the continued illegal acts of gas flaring in some Bayelsa communities including Polako Community in Yenagoa local government area of the state is a clear case of genocide against the people by oil multinationals.
The members of the group led by Comrade Tony Ile, supported by Comrade Mohammed Hassan of SING foundation and Comrade Morris Alagoa of ERA, said in spite of the 1984 Federal High Court judgment delivered against the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Benin City in Edo State, the issue of gas flaring has continued to devastate homes, farms and indigenes of oil bearing communities of the region.
Comrade Tony Ile, in the speech read and presented to the chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Samuel Numunengi, on behalf of the Executive Director of SING, Idris Abiodun Usman, stated the theme of the year’s celebration “Beat Air Pollution” is to raise serious awareness on the menancing trend of gas flaring and other oil exploration activities in the Niger Delta region.”
“It is worrisome to note that nearly seventy-seven million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution. The SING foundation will also be using the opportunity of this year’s event to urge government, oil companies, manufacturing industries, communities and individuals to come together to explore options of renewable energy and green technologies, in order to improve air qualities in cities and communities across the Niger Delta and the country at large.”
“We are also determined to work with every relevant stakeholders in order to advance the well-being of humanity through the environment. We shall also continue to encourage government, private sector and citizens on the need to galvanise actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet.”
A representative of the Polako community in Yenagoa local government area of the state, Oyoro Kwaku, said the effects of gas flaring by the SPDC located within the area is having a gross negative effect on the livelihood of the people of the community.
According to Kwaku, “we are neighbours and host to SPDC in Obuna community. We have been pursuing the issue of an end to gas flaring since last year and the federal government intervened and assured us that it will stop. But since then nothing has been done.
“SPDC is cunning. They pretend to reduce the flare during the day and increase the flaring by night. The houses within our community are cracked and diseases spread across the community. Rivers are polluted with poisonous carbon.”