By Aherhoke Okioma
Foremost environmentalist and Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Reverend Nnimmo Bassey, has advocated the urgent need to extend the Ogoni cleanup to the entire Niger Delta region on account of the oil-induced pollution ravaging the region.
Bassey, who spoke at Gbarantoru Community in Yenagoa Council of Bayelsa State, during a one-day sensitization engagement tagged: Community Diagnostic Dialogue, enjoined stakeholders to fight and amplify the calls for the cleanup of the entire Niger Delta, lamenting that the region was becoming a sacrificial zone in the country.
He said there was the need to engage local communities in advocacy activities to help curtail environmental recklessness, noting that when people become knowledgeable and aware of their environment, they respond in a different way.
Bassey said the Community Diagnostic Dialogue was organised to meet the people with a view to diagnosing their environmental and socio-economic issues and challenges and proffer lasting solutions.
He said: “We want to diagnose the roots of environmental problems in this community, because we realised that there has been a lot of environmental issues like oil spills, gas flares. We have the biggest gas flare plant in this community and it has impacted on fishing, farming and the entire ecosystem.
“There are other issues, but we can’t just assume that we know what all the problems are. And so, we are here to talk to the people, to diagnose the roots of the problem, the people will tell us what the situation of the environment was before the oil sector that took the prominent place in the communities.
“The exercise is to find out what has gone wrong, what can be done to change the situation as who is to do that. So, if they say it is the government, together we talk to the government and if it is something they can do themselves, we stand with them to do it.”
He explained that such conversations had helped to curtail the level of environmental recklessness, adding that it might not stop everything, but certainly when people get knowledgeable and aware of what is going on, chance are that they respond in a different way, The Trumpet gathered.
“Now we need to fight and amplify the need for the cleanup to cover the entire Niger Delta, because the Niger Delta is becoming the sacrificial zone, while some other places are viewed as sacred zones. They have all the best things, but here we have all the worst things, this is the change we want to see,” he stated.