Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Prof. Charles Dokubo, has said PAP will collaborate with the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) on disaster reduction programmes in the Niger Delta.
He said the scope of the collaboration would include sensitisation campaigns on environmental hazards, occasioned by decades of oil exploitation and safety measures.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Murphy Ganagana, he explained that plans are underway for a conference on oil exploration and environmental degradation to look into the geological background of the Niger Delta and impact assessment.
He reiterated the readiness of his office to partner NOSDRA towards curtailing the effects of environmental degradation on communities in the Niger Delta.
The amnesty boss gave the assurance on Wednesday in Abuja at a meeting with NOSDRA Director General, Sir Peter Idabor.
He described plans for disaster reduction programmes in the Niger Delta in partnership with his office as a step in the right direction.
“I think we have to look at the ripple effects of environment degradation. Environmental degradation and economic resurgence is one issue we should always look at. It has taken a long time and now that the government has decided that clean up period has come, it is commendable. I face a peculiar problem in the sense that whenever there is a crisis, most of the people I deal with will go and blow up pipelines and I always tell them that they are not blowing up pipes that are in Kaduna; they are blowing up pipes that are in their own environment and that children yet unborn will suffer from these activities.
“Now that you want to create awareness, I think that it is very good. Oil pollution, these are not things that we hear in developed countries. The new technologies are available that we can use now, but for our environment, it is already devastated. To resuscitate it, to create the awareness that this environment belongs to us and if we don’t take care of it, it is going to affect us negatively, it is a good step and I think we will all do that,” Dokubo said.
Earlier, Idabor said the agency was concerned about the health of people living in the Niger Delta, especially the infusion of toxic substances through food chains.
While commending Dokubo for his efforts at deepening peace and stability in the Niger Delta, Idabor called for the conversion of deep pits, created during the construction of major roads in the Niger Delta, to fish ponds to create jobs and wealth for PAP beneficiaries.
“We have noticed that your activities have drastically reduced cases of vandalisation of pipelines in the Niger Delta, and we commend you for that. We are here to rub minds with you. We are responsible for the national oil spill contingency plan which is geared towards the third-tier oil spills in the country. As part of our operations, we are very much concerned about the health of our people there, and sometimes, our greatest concern is the infusion of some of these toxic substances through the food chains and the effect on the health of our people.
“So, one of the things we do in our office is to help create awareness; to sensitise people on how to deal with this problem of having oil spillage in their immediate environment. At this stage, there is very little anybody can do, but if we can prevent people from getting too close to the substances or from contaminated areas or eating foods that are already contaminated, that will go a long way to educate the people; that is why we have come to see, if we can partner you, and also have an opportunity to present resource persons from our own agency for you in any area that you require, or joint collaborative effort towards organising a conference,” he said.