The Social Media Chief of Bayelsa State Dr. John Idumange has urged delegates of the ongoing National conference to discuss issues that will make Nigeria united, stronger and more resolved to take its pride of place in the African continent. He said this at his office in Yenagoa during a courtesy call by journalists from Calabar. He also advocated for a compensation of $5 trillion dollars for Bayelsa State from the Federal Government on account of environmental terrorism perpetrated against the people for 50 years.
Said he! Bayelsa State is the cradle of Nigeria’s crude oil economy. Oil was struck in Oloibiri in 1956 and mining began in 1958. Since then Bayelsa State has produced an estimated $150 trillion USD for the Nigerian State. Virtually, there is hardly any State in Nigeria that has contributed more to the national economy than Bayelsa State.
Sadly, because of extant laws such as the Land Use Act of 1978, as amended and the Petroleum Act of 1969 as amended, and the obvious lack of true federalism, the State has not been given its fair share of its contributions in oil and gas. The most buffeting challenge is that oil bearing Communities and the entire State is endangered because of frequent oil spillages, gas flaring , seismic activities and other oil mining activities.
Consequently, Dr. John Idumange, who is also the Deputy President of the Niger Delta Integrity Group and a member of the pen confraternity told the journalists to support his vehement advocacy for reparation, for Bayelsa State adding that the money if well utilized will enable Bayelsa State to catch up with other States of the federation in terms of development.
Idumange affirmed that today, an average of 240,000 barrels of crude oil are spilled in the Niger Delta every year due to unknown causes (31.85%) third party activities (20.74%) and mechanical failure (17.04%). The oil spills according to him contaminates the surface water, ground water, ambient air, economic crops with hydrocarbons including carcinogens, fishing streams and general loss of biodiversity, which affects the livelihood of the people. The spill results in about 60% reduction of household food security, reducing the ascorbic acid content of cassava, plantain and other food crops by 40% could lead to increase in infant malnutrition by 40%.
Studies according to him indicate that contact with crude oil could be hemotoxic and hepatoxic and could result in high risk infertility and cancer. So oil spills have acute and long term effects on health. It is true that the Bayelsa State Government advocates the implementation of stringent environmental laws, which alone cannot bring back the devastation done to the ecology, which has affected more than 250 Communities.
He therefore advised the Bayelsa Representative at the National Confab to push for reparation of $5trillion USD from the Federal Government for specific and general damages suffered by the State on account of oil production. The money should be used to be used for two purposes: establishment of the BAYELSA STATE OIL MINERAL PRODUCING DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION, BASOPADEC and a Special Fund for the award of overseas scholarships for in specific areas such as environmental engineering, Medicine, Biotechnology, Geodesy, Environmental Technology and sustainable Development practices.
Even Governor Seriake Dickson, in his meeting with the DG of NOSDRA had earlier cried out that Bayelsa State is under Environmental Terrorism perpetrated mainly by the oil majors and the illegal activities of oil bunkering, oil theft and the activities of local refineries.
John Idumange concluded his submission by urging the Bayelsa Representatives at the National Confab to articulate their needs to include the subject-matter of REPARATION OF $5 trillion USD to compensate for all the atrocities meted out to the State as a result of oil exploration and exploitation in the State, adding that Bayelsa State has a difficult terrain, which cannot go cap in hand to take paltry sums of money from the Federation Account under the rubrics of Revenue Allocation and still think of developing the State. The reparation, he said should be the Federal Government’s contribution to the development of the environmental rape they have committed in the State. “If Bayelsa delegates at the National Confab cannot get total Resource Control or true federalism, the concession of reparation, shall bring succor to the people”, Idumange said.
In another vein, Dr. Idumange condemned delegates at the Confab, especially religious bigots and ethnically parochial persons who push for their petty, sectional interest adding that the essence of the Confab is to UNITE the Country and remove all obstacles to development.
Responding, Comrade Udoh Akpan said the pen Profession will use all its powers not only to push for the reparation for Bayelsa but for the entire Niger Delta Region, which has suffered degradation on account of oil mining. He remarked that all Niger Delta States should seek reparation from the Federal Government, reiterating that the Region has been raped for 50 years without adequate compensation because of the obnoxious laws in the Country. The visitors will depart for Calabar today 9th, April 2014.
Comrade Essien Ubok, reporting from Yenagoa
April 8th, 2014.