A member of the House of Representatives and Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Hon. Dakuku Peterside has called for wide-ranging policies to address the environmental degradation in the Niger Delta due to crude Oil exploration.
Peterside said there was an urgent need for the government to pay particular attention to the issue of the environment to ensure that it continues to support life and livelihood of the Niger Delta people “even after the oil wells had dried up.”
The lawmaker, while speaking in Abuja at the public presentation of two books: “Niger Delta Environmental Roundtable- A Book of Readings” and “African Women Can Lead,” published by the Development and Leadership Institute(DLI), a non-governmental organisation, said there is need to enhance the preservation of the environment of the oil rich communities in Nigeria.
According to him, crude oil has brought a lot of negative consequences on the environment and people of the oil rich region, in spite of the fact that oil has sustained the Nigerian economy for several decades,
The lawmaker while drawing an analogy between the impact of oil exploration and exploitation in Nigeria and other climes, said contrary to the practice in other countries, Nigeria over the years has not paid enough attention to the issue of safeguarding its environment.
His words: “The nation of America stood still because of an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The President of the country, Barak Obama visited the site of the spill and British Petroleum(BP), the company accused of being responsible for the spill, deployed several of its directors to the spill site and kept them there for 30 days. That is the level of seriousness attached to the issue of environment in a country like the United States. But that is not exactly so in our country.”
He said the Development and Leadership Institute (DLI) was trying to raise the consciousness of the government and people on the issue of the environment.
“As you already know, we didn’t create the environment; we inherited it and we have a duty to pass it on to the generations to come. But we treat our environment with disdain as if it does not matter. We don’t care about the environment, yet none of us can survive without the support from the environment.”
In his review of the “Niger Delta Environmental Roundtable- A Book of Readings,” Peterside said the book showcases a plethora of contributions by several authors on the need to protect the environment and preserve it for future.
Peterside said the 1958 oil discovery in the Niger Delta was both a blessing and curse on Nigeria, adding that the blessing of crude oil came with some consequences such as the continuous exposure and degradation of the environment.
He said: “As at today, the Niger Delta environment is endangered but nobody cares to know. We have done a lot of window dressing; sometimes we set up one commission or the other, but none of these have shown commitment to preserving the Niger Delta environment.”