Senator Henry Seriake Dickson, who represents Bayelsa West in the National Assembly, has voiced grave concern about the major oil spillage from AITEO Exploration and Production Company’s OML 29 Well 1 Platform.
Over two million barrels of crude oil have reportedly poured into the Santa Barbara River in Bayelsa State’s Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas since the incident on November 5, 2021.
Senator Dickson said in a statement released Monday that the oil company’s operators, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Ministry of Environment, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, and others should take prompt action to save the environment from catastrophic destruction.
The former Governor demanded that the National Emergency Management Agency, the Ministry of the Environment, NOSDRA, and oil companies deliver assistance goods to the spilled towns.
He urged the oil company’s operators to hire professionals with the necessary technical expertise to ensure that the damaged well head is appropriately fixed.
Senator Dickson stated that, given the magnitude of the contamination produced by the oil spill, the Federal Government must make a thorough provision to ensure the immediate implementation of cleanup procedures in the impacted areas.
The former Governor expressed his sympathies to the residents of the impacted districts, whose livelihood and health have been jeopardized by the vast oil spill that has yet to be contained.
He demanded that people be adequately compensated for environmental damage and loss of livelihood.
He denounced the pointless fuss over the pollution, as well as the devious attempt to politicize the leak, which he described as a simple case of oil business contamination.
He emphasized that what was required at this time was repair efforts by all parties involved, not an attack on the communities or the state government.
He bemoaned the fact that the Niger Delta ecosystem had become so filthy, and he had always referred to Bayelsa as the epicenter of environmental degradation.
Senator Dickson claimed that it was because of the widespread pollution that he established an International Commission on Environment, which was chaired by Bishop John Sentamu, the retired Anglican Archbishop of York. The commission, directed by Sentamu, is made up of international environmental specialists whose work is currently ongoing.
He went on to say that his foundation, The Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation, will continue to promote and highlight concerns of environmental abuse in the Niger Delta, claiming that the Nembe leak is a textbook illustration of what has been going on in the region for the past 60 years.
He bemoaned the fact that even local oil companies are not faring any better than their international rivals in terms of community relations and environmental protection.
He emphasized that the oil companies behave like mafias, posing major security concerns to the Niger Delta nations’ peace and security, particularly in Bayelsa, through pipeline surveillance contracts.