Bayelsa seeks UN assistance on environmental challenges

Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, has called on the United Nations to assist the state for urgent remediation of the environment due to decades of degradation and neglect.

Governor Diri made the call on Tuesday night at a state banquet in honour of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, in Yenagoa.

He decried the hardship suffered by the people due to the exploration and exploitation of crude oil and gas by multinationals oil companies saying they have destroyed the Bayelsa State ecosystem.

Daniel Alabrah, chief press secretary to the governor in a statement said the governor drew the attention of the international community to the injustice and environmental despoliation of the land that has fed the Nigerian nation economically.

The governor said lack of sincerity and political will on the part of the Federal Government in addressing the issue has made their efforts amount to nothing.

“I like to place on record that our environment that has been raped and degraded over the years is seeking remediation,” he said.

“The previous administration, as a result of the level of degradation, decided to set up an environmental commission headed by John Sentamu, immediate past Archbishop of York. Its report is yet to be fully addressed.

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“We have some part of it and we believe that it would bring to limelight what the people of Bayelsa have suffered, particularly in the hands of oil exploitation and exploring companies.

“Our environment, particularly our water resources, are heavily polluted. Our economic activities have been crippled over the years because of the same reason and even when the Federal Government has taken some measures to address this, they are more like a slap on the wrist.”

Diri expressed the hope that the state’s partnership with the United Nations would address most of the issues highlighted and usher in sustainable development in the state.

Speaking earlier, Edward Kallon, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator, commended Governor Diri for stabilising and ensuring peace and security in the state saying that there is no development without peace.

Kallon emphasised that peace and development were only possible when strong institutions drive development.

He also noted that the international body was not unaware of the injustice meted out to and the exploitation of the Niger Delta people and their environment.

Highpoint of the event was the honouring and decoration of Diri, his wife, Gloria, and the Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, as Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Champions.

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