Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson has lent his voice in condemning oil producing companies for not conforming to international standards and best practices in their operations in the Niger Delta.
The Governor, who spoke in Yenagoa when the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Ambassador Bert Ronhaar paid him a courtesy call, observed that the application of double standards by multinational oil companies contributes significantly to the impoverishment of the environment and people of the region.
Hon. Dickson lamented the brazen manner resources of the Niger Delta are expropriated, pointing out that the level of environmental degradation occasioned by the operations of IOCs places the region on a precarious situation.
According to the Governor, the ecosystem and livelihood of people in the Niger Delta have been negatively impacted upon as a result of oil exploration and exploitation activities over the years.
Going down memory lane, Hon Dickson noted that the Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Company struck oil in commercial quantities at Oloibiri in Bayelsa State in 1956, but is today bereft of any meaningful development.
“We have major issues of how to combat flooding, erosion of our communities and damaged ecosystem. There are also frightening scientific predictions that if urgent steps are not taken, most of the communities in the Niger Delta will be wiped away in the next couple of years.
“There is now a disconnect arising from the decades of what is perceived to be nonchalant attitude by the international oil companies. The communities now see the operating companies as buccaneers who do not care about them and their conditions. Their (IOCs) concern is only the oil and not the people’s well-being. The activities here are such that you have double standards in terms of adherence to environmental rules, regulations and procedures” he said.
Governor Dickson, who described the environment as the common heritage of mankind, vowed that his administration would not hesitate in joining forces with other stakeholders in championing the need for environmental rights and justice in the country.
According to him, “The environment has to be respected in the Niger Delta the same way it is protected and preserved in Europe and America; an oil spill is an oil spill wherever it occurs, whether it is in the Niger Delta or in the Gulf of Mexico”.
While thanking the visiting Ambassador for his efforts in deepening diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the kingdom of the Netherlands, Hon. Dickson urged the envoy to prevail on oil companies particularly Shell to adhere to international operational standards.
He also called on the Ambassador to nominate credible consultants that could work with the government in the designing and construction of a sustainable drainage system that would enable the state overcome its flooding challenges.
Earlier in his remarks, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Ambassador Bert Ronhaar said he was in the state to discuss possible areas of collaboration that will strengthen bilateral ties between his country and the state.
Describing Bayelsa as a state that share a lot of similarities with Netherlands, the Ambassador enjoined people of the state not to see water as an enemy, stressing that there is so much to gain from it if properly harnessed.
Ambassador Ronhaar pledged his country’s readiness to partner with the state government by bringing in Dutch technocrats who possess the much needed technical expertise to combat the problem of flooding, erosion and other environmental challenges.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State