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Nigeria: Experts berate Niger Delta governors over oil derivation fund

Two renowned Nigerian Environmentalists have frowned at the neglect of oil community environment by the state governors in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.The environmentalists, Rev. Nnimmo Bassey and Mr. Alagoa Morris, said in separate interviews with journalists to mark the 2019 World Environmental Day (WED) that the 13 percent oil derivation funds to oil producing states were allegedly diverted by the governors of the states in the region.

They noted that the funds meant to ameliorate the adverse effects of oil exploration and production was being spent on frivolities to the detriment of the oil communities and the environment.

The report by the Nigerian Television Authority, said that Bassey, an environmental activist, alleged that governors of the Niger Delta states were not deploying the oil derivation revenue for the benefits of the environment and the people.

Bassey, according to the report, noted that if the funds allocated to the states were judiciously used, the region would have regenerated or at least begin to return to its historically biodiverse self.

“The squandering or wastage of resources is a self-inflicted injury because it allows oil companies and other exploiters to act irresponsibly seeing that leaders do not have the moral grounds to demand good behaviour.

“As we mark world environment day focusing on kicking out air pollution, we need to look at our faces in the ecological mirror and declare truthfully what we see.

“How can we have soot blanketing a city like Port Harcourt for years and yet we behave as though everything is alright?

“How can it be justified that the region that produces the wealth of the nation is one of the top 10 most polluted places on earth and also one with extremely low life expectancy?

“With gas flares eating up our people, destroying agriculture and the general environment, we should hang our heads in shame.

“There is no life and no enjoyment of rights in the midst of pollution,” Bassey said.

In his reaction, Morris, another environmentalist, said that the 2019 WED focusing on air pollution and being hosted by China drew attention to the unrestrained gas flaring at oilfields within the Niger Delta with massive release of greenhouse gases that trigger climate change.

He noted that individuals, families, religious bodies, corporate entities, NGOs and governments had roles to play to preserve the ecosystem, adding that the stakeholders were failing in their responsibility to the environment.

According to him, Nigerians merely pay lip service on WED without meditating on how to follow up with implementable policies to achieve desired results in the common interest.

Morris, Head of Field Operations at Environment Rights Action, noted that over the years, “there have not been any policy formulation or implementation relating to past World Environment Day theme or focus.

“The World Environment Days are carefully selected to address critical world issues and they may not be easily repeated.

“Incidentally, while the advanced societies are making progress in relation to these environmental challenges, we in this clime are more interested in formalities, speaking grammar just to mark the day. This is very unfortunate and sad.

“Last year’s theme was beat plastic, but if, as we are to mark this year’s theme which has to do with air pollution; you ask the Bayelsa State government for instance what has been done to beat plastic?

“I am certain there would be no positive response.

“That is to show you the extent to which our people and governments are so unserious about environmental issues,” he said.

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