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Bayelsa govt canvasses EU support against environmental terrorism in N/Delta

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Elizabeth Vincent, yenagoa


Bayelsa State Government has solicited the support of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) in the fight against environmental terrorism and degradation impoverishing Bayelsa and other states in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.


Governor Douye Diri made the appeal at Otuan community in the Southern Ijaw LGA of the state on Wednesday when he, accompanied by some foreign envoys, embarked on an assessment visit of facilities donated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the riverine community.


Represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Governor stressed that the challenge of environmental injustice confronting the Niger Delta, particularly Bayelsa State, requires urgent and sustained effort for redress.


Highlighting the sufferings of the people of the state, including the prevalence of strange diseases and high mortality rate occasioned by pollution from reckless oil exploration, he lamented that life expectancy in the region ranks among the lowest in the world.


Governor Diri informed the visiting envoys of the state government’s efforts in seeking redress, including making a case in the United Kingdom’s parliament through a Report on Oil Pollution in Bayelsa by the ArchBishop John Sentamu-led Committee empanelled by his predecessor, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson.


He called on the EU, development partners and environmental rights organizations to support the Niger Delta in engaging the Federal Government and the international oil companies to address  environmentally unwholesome practices like gas flaring and incessant oil spills occurring unchecked for decades in the region.


His words: “An area we really want your support, especially the European Union, is to lead a sustenance of redress for the environmental injustice, terrorism and oppression that the Niger Delta people, and Bayelsa State in particular, have suffered over the years.


“We really want your collaboration in this area. There is already a commission report on this before the United Kingdom.


“We still want to really request you, so that you can join us to see how we can get environmental justice in our state and in the whole of the Niger Delta.


“This ceremony we have here today is the product of the fusion of our development goals and efforts as a state and those of the UNODC. This project will create more room for greater collaboration; it has been very rewarding and fruitful.


“We believe this singular act of the European Union, funded by Germany, and now supported by Denmark, will give us a ladder for engaging our youths in creative ventures.”


The Governor equally appealed for cooperation from the EU in the area of youth development to foster peace, development as well as curb drug abuse and its attendant crimes in the rural communities.


On requests made by the Otuan community for the construction of a civic centre, women development centre, and a skills acquisition centre for the youths, Governor Diri promised to look into their demands.


Earlier in his welcome address, the Amananaowei of Otuan Community, His Royal Highness Christopher Nana Okoto, expressed gratitude to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) for selecting Otuan as one of the pilot communities for its rural development and security project.


He, however,  appealed for the expansion of the existing youth development centre, and the building of a bigger and more mechanized cassava processing factory to complement the existing one donated by the UNODC with funding from the German embassy in Nigeria.


It would be recalled that the UNODC and its donors built a police post, youth development centre and refurbished the mechanized cassava processing factory in Otuan Community.


The highpoint of the assessment visit was the guided tour of the Otuan police post, the mechanized cassava processing facility, as well as an interactive session between the leadership of Otuan community and visiting ambassodors, including the country representative of the UNODC in Nigeria, Dr Oliver Stolpe.


Other envoys who accompanied the Deputy Governor to Otuan included the  Deputy Consul General of Germany to Nigeria, Mr. Gerald Wolf; the EU Ambassador, Ms Samula Isopi; the Ambassador of Finland to Nigeria, Ms Leena Pylvanainen, as well as the Ambassador of Denmark to Nigeria, Mr Sune Krogstub.


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