Category: Environment

Gov. Diri Disagrees With NOSDRA On Nembe Spill Investigation – Minister Overrules DG

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has expressed dissatisfaction with comments credited to the Director General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Mr. Idris Musa, on the legality of the state’s technical committee on the recent oil spill in Nembe Local Government Area of the state.

The NOSDRA DG was reportedly quoted to have said that the committee was illegal and also prevented the media from being part of the Joint Investigation Visit to the spillage site.

Governor Diri spoke on Monday during a courtesy visit of the Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, to Government House, Yenagoa.

The minister was in the state for an on-the-spot assessment of the blowout that occurred at OML 29 Wellhead platform operated by Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited in Nembe.

The leak lasted for about 38 days before it was eventually stopped on December 8.

Governor Diri who described NOSDRA’s action as unacceptable, said his decision to set up the technical committee on the spill was influenced by the country’s Constitution and the laws of Bayelsa State.

He said he owed the people of Nembe the responsibility of protecting every victim affected by the spill and would leave no stone unturned in ensuring justice and full compensation for the people.

While calling on the JIV team set up by NOSDRA to be transparent and free from any form of compromise, Senator Diri, said it was unethical for Aiteo to provide logistics for the JIV.

His words: “Honourable Minister, I was not happy with the report I got from my team, particularly comments allegedly made by the DG of NOSDRA. I’m an elected governor of Bayelsa State and the number one thing about me is the wellbeing of the people, the environment and property of my state.

“I was told that the DG allegedly made comments that the committee I set up and inaugurated was an illegal committee. Also, he reportedly said that the media cannot be part of the JIV. 

“Those were the reports I received from my team. I’m happy that you have cleared the issues about the media and they would be part of it. 

“Like I said earlier, states and the federal government are supposed to work hand in gloves. I have the powers vested by the Nigerian Constitution and the laws of Bayelsa State to set up the committee within the confines of Bayelsa State and on anything that is injurious to the people of the state.

“With the way it is going, I’m not happy with the report I’m getting from my committee. Aiteo could not have been the one to provide the logistics for the JIV. And the DG of NOSDRA should be the number one person to protect the state, its team and the environment.” 

The governor however thanked the minister for coming to have a first hand knowledge of the plight of the Nembe people and Bayelsa State in general. 

Earlier, the Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, said her visit was to assess the damage caused by the spill and to ensure speedy remediation.

Mrs. Ikeazor, who was accompanied by the NOSDRA DG, however said it was proper for the media to be part of the JIV and that journalists would not be prevented from visiting the site.

The minister further stated that from reports made available to her, 16,800 barrels of oil had been recovered from the polluted water.

She thanked the people of Nembe Local Government Area for their peaceful disposition during and after the spill.

She also commended the state government for the exemplary leadership demonstrated to manage the situation.

Daniel Alabrah 
Chief Press Secretary to the Bayelsa State Governor 
December 21, 2021

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Nembe Oil Spill – Gov. Diri Dissatisfied with Reps’ Silence

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on Monday, expressed surprise over the silence of the House of Representatives on the recent oil spill in Nembe Local Government Area of the state. 

The massive spillage, which occurred on November 5 at the OML 26 Wellhead 1 facility operated by Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited on the Santa Barbara River, lasted more than a month before it was stopped. 

Governor Diri spoke when he received the House Committee On Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring during a courtesy visit to Government House, Yenagoa.

The governor, a former Rep, recounted his experience in the House, and charged the members to revive the vibrancy the Green Chamber was known for.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as saying that there was nowhere in the world an oil spill would last for over a month and the people’s representatives would be silent.

His words: “I like to observe that as a part of you, the vibrancy I used to see in the House appears to be extinguishing. Please, let that spirit be revived.

“I stand by what I said during the period of the oil spill. There is nowhere in the world an oil spill of such magnitude will occur and the legislators would be silent. I drew a parallel with the oil spill ten years ago in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Here in the creeks of Bayelsa, we had a gushing oil spill for more than one full month and there was a loud silence from my own constituency, the Green Chamber. So, let us revive that vibrancy again.”

Senator Diri asserted that one does not have to be a Bayelsan to raise a motion on the spill, likening it to Boko Haram insurgency and banditry ravaging the North that every member had raised motions to see to its end.

The governor commended the robust partnership between the state and the Simbi Wabote-led Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), which he said was the only functiona federal presence within the state capital of Yenagoa.

Speaking earlier, chairman of the House Committee on Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring, Legor Idagbo, said the legislators were in the state on oversight duties on the NCDMB.

He expressed satisfaction over the fruitful interactions with the Board.

Idagbo stressed that it is their constitutional  responsibility and part of their legislative function to strengthen the NCDMB and sponsor bills in line with current realities. 

One of such bills, according to him, is to expand local content beyond oil and gas to every other sector of the Nigerian economy.

He commended Governor Diri for his partnership with the NCDMB by providing infrastructure at the Oloibiri Museum and Research Centre project, for ensuring peace and stability at the Board’s headquarters and at every of its other project sites in the state.

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Nembe Oil Spill: Opu-Nembe Kingdom Lauds Gov Diri On Visit, Succour To Ravaged Communities

The Opu-Nembe Kingdom in Bayelsa State has commended Governor Douye Diri for his response to the plight of the kingdom over the oil and gas spillage that has ravaged their communities. 

The Amayanabo of Opu-Nembe Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, King Biobelemoye Josiah, Ogbodo VIII, in a statement he personally signed, thanked the governor for also setting up a committee aimed at assessing the extent and effect of the spill.

The monarch stated that the kingdom greatly appreciated the visit of the governor to have an on-the-spot assessment of the oil and gas blowout, which is yet to be contained after a month.

He said: “We put on record the empathy shown by Your Excellency in providing immediate cushioning financial support to all segments of the Kingdom during your visit.

“We further commend you for immediately directing your Deputy to set up an “Assessment Committee on Nembe Oil Spillage.

“Your Excellency, my people and I also want to commend you for urging AITEO, whose oil well-head caused the spill, to provide adequate remediation/compensation for affected communities, families, businesses, farmlands/fishing implements.

“Your Excellency, on behalf of the good people of Opu- Nembe Kingdom, I passionately request that you use your honoured office to ask the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to swiftly distribute relief materials to communities affected by the persistently gushing oil and gas spill.

“Also for the following federal government agencies; The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Regulatory Commissions of the relevant Streams (up, mid and down) in the oil industry, the National Environmental Sanitation and Regulatory Agency (NESREA) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPC) to show more concern for the well-being of my people as well as reduce their sufferings.”

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AITEO Spill, The Worst In My Lifetime – Gov Diri *Says Our People Are Endangered *Calls For Protection of Fishing Routes

An unhappy Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, returned from visiting the oil spill site in Nembe Local Government Area of the state on Wednesday, describing it as the worst he had seen in his lifetime.

The OML 29 Well 1 platform, which is operated by Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil firm, Aiteo Exploration and Production Company Limited, has been spilling crude unabated into the Santa Barbara River for about one month.

An estimated two million barrels of crude has reportedly been spilled into the river, polluting the flora and fauna of the area.

Governor Diri said the continuous spillage has further endangered the lives of people of Nembe, Bayelsa and indeed the Niger Delta.

In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, the governor, who expressed shock over the quantity of crude that has been spilled into the environment, called on the Federal Government and operators of the oil field to immediately take action to stop it.

According to him, the prolonged oil spill into the water and air had an immediate and long term effect on the health of the inhabitants.

While assuring the people that appropriate measures would be taken to seek redress, he noted that the quest by oil firms to make money would not be at the expense of the lives of the people. 

Describing fishing as the source of livelihood of the people of the area, Senator Diri noted that just as there are grazing routes, Bayelsa State has fishing routes and must be protected.

He expressed empathy with the Nembe people, whom he said have lost their means of livelihood due to the spill while appreciating them for their peaceful disposition. 

His words: “Today happens to be a very dark day for me. What we have seen, I believe, is worse than what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. In all my life, I have not seen such magnitude of oil spillage.

“Our people are endangered. Our people’s source of livelihood is endangered. I empathise and sympathise with the people of Nembe on behalf of the government and people of Bayelsa State. 

“I like to give you hope that we will stand shoulder to shoulder with you. Your government will activate every constitutional means to arrest and redress this magnitude of oil spill.

“I therefore call on the Federal Government, the operators of the oil field, NNPC and AITEO to immediately look for a superior technical know-how to contain and stop the spread of the oil.

“For Bayelsa, the only thing we know how to do best is fishing. Today, our own fishing route is endangered. I equally call on the Federal Government to immediately react and ensure that our fishing route is safe.”

The Bayelsa helmsman also decried the exclusion of indigenes of host communities in the running of the oil industry, saying that if indigenes were part of the operations of the oil field, they would have looked for ways to address the problem.

To ameliorate the suffering of the people, the governor has directed the State Emergency Management Agency and Ministry of Health to immediately provide relief materials and healthcare services to the people.

Earlier, the chairman of Nembe Local Government Area, Hon. West Alalibo, and member representing Nembe Constituency 2 in the State House of Assembly, Edward Brigidi, appreciated the governor for embarking on an on-the-spot assessment visit to the site.

They revealed that the spill has caused water and environmental pollution, which is hazardous to the health of the people.

Also speaking, chairman of Opu-Nembe Council of Chiefs, Chief Ekpeleyai Oruwari, appealed to government and the operators of the oil well to stop the oil from spilling into their environment.

Chief Oruwari stated that the spill has polluted their environment leading to a damage of their source of water and means of livelihood, adding that the people’s lives are in danger due to the polluted air.

He appealed for the provision of relief materials to ameliorate their plight.

The governor was accompanied by lawmakers, including the member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Dr. Fred Agbedi, Speaker of the Bayelsa House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere, and top government functionaries on the visit.

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Bayelsa To Set Up Environmental Guards

In order to check deforestation and other environmental infractions, Bayelsa State would soon set up a body to be known as Bayelsa State Environmental Vanguard.

Governor Douye Diri, who disclosed this on Tuesday during the celebration of this year’s World Environmental Day in the state, lamented the degradation of the environment  through oil exploration and exploitation activities by international oil companies, illegal oil bunkering and other unhealthy environmental practices.

The governor, in a press release issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, urged Bayelsans to shun practices that are inimical to preservation of the environment. 
He called for concerted effort to preserve the environment, adding that  a healthy environment is fundamental to the survival of the people.

He said: “Let me seize this medium to call on Bayelsans and residents to individually and collectively ensure behavioural change. Take responsibility of watching over our environment. I put you all on notice to defend our environment. Degradation of the Bayelsa environment must come to an end.
“The fight to preserve the integrity of the environment is global. But in Bayelsa, let us localise it, own it, speak it and work it.”

Governor Diri directed the Commissioner for the Environment to constitute a team for the establishment of a Bayelsa State Environmental Vanguard, which would be saddled with the responsibility of ensuring a clean and healthy environment. He also directed the ministry and the state Physical Planning Board to ensure that all development plans had green areas to mitigate the heat caused by climate change and global warming.

He called on oil companies, government officials and well-meaning individuals to collaborate with government to achieve his administration’s policy of restoring the ecosystem.

In his goodwill message, Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly represented by chairman of the Committee on Environment, Hon Ben Ololo, noted that the state’s environment was highly polluted due to unhealthy practices and called for tree planting, cleaning of drainages among other measures to preserve a healthy environment.
In a welcome address, the Commissioner for the Environment, Hon. Iselema Gbaranbiri, re-emphasised the importance of a healthy environment to healthy living and urged the oil companies to be committed to the restoration of the degraded environment due to oil exploration.

Gbaranbiri warned against illegal felling of trees, which he said was  leading to deforestation of forest in the state.
Highpoints of the event were poem recitations on the environment by students of different secondary schools in the state as well as a lecture delivered by Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Niger Delta University, Prof. Ibaba S. I Ibaba.

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Bayelsa Bans Logging, Deforestation Activities

Bayelsa State government has halted logging without permit and other deforestation activities in order to protect the state’s forest reserves.

Henceforth, all commercial timber dealers are to obtain permit from the Ministry of Environment before embarking on logging activities.

Governor Douye Diri, who stated this on Monday during this year’s International Day of Forests celebration in Yenagoa, also directed that an executive bill in consultation with the Environment Ministry and related civil society organisations be prepared and forwarded to the House of Assembly. 

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the governor also said that the new bill would repeal existing environmental laws that are now obsolete.
His words: “Henceforth, all timber dealers are to obtain permit before taking out logs from our forest reserves. This is to protect our forests.

“I hereby direct that an executive bill in consultation with the state Ministry of Environment and related civil society organisations be sent immediately to the House of Assembly.

“This bill should repeal every other existing laws. I trust the State Assembly to do justice to this bill so that we can protect our forests.” 

Governor Diri emphasised that his administration was determined to protect such reserves through the legal framework.

“It is interesting that somebody that came from Cameroon has told us about an only specie in the world found in our state and yet we cannot protect it. So this bill should look at ways and means of preserving such few species in our forests.” 

The governor, who also frowned at the use of dynamite by fishermen, noted that the bill should make the use of explosives on the state’s waterways an offence. 
Diri asserted that as a government that preaches prosperity, it cannot fold its arms and watch forests in the state being degraded.

He directed the Commissioner for Environment to rejuvenate the forest guards and deploy them to their respective local government areas to ensure effective protection of the reserves.

The governor also granted the request by the Ministry of Environment to adopt six proposed forest reserves.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Iselema Gbaranbiri, said the International Day of Forests was declared by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.

Mr. Gbaranbiri remarked that healthy forests strongly influence the quantity of water yielded from watersheds, discharge the highest quality of water and provide logs, fuel woods, fodder and medicinal plants used by local and indigenous communities.

According to him, the state has six reserves namely the Taylor Creek, Edumanom, Apoi Creek, Nun River, Igbedi Creek and Ikebiri Creek Forest Reserves.

Coordinator of the Red Colobus Conservation Network, Miss Florence Aghomo from Cameroon, stressed the need for Bayelsans to be responsible in forest preservation as its socio-economic benefits cannot be over-emphasised.
According to Miss Aghomo, Nigeria is a home to two of 18 Taxa species known to science and the Niger Delta red Colobus can only be found in Bayelsa and Preuss’s red colobus in Cross River State.

Also speaking, Mr. Morris Alagoa from the Environmental Rights Action (ERA), who lauded the governor for the history making event, appealed for the establishment of a zoological garden and community forest-driven management in the state.

In the same vein, the Executive Director of Trees For Life Initiative, Chief B. Okolo, presented a medicinal plant, Dogoyaro, to the governor and his deputy.
Highpoint of the ceremony was the planting of trees by Senator Diri alongside his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo and other top government functionaries.

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WWD: Bayelsa Governor Decries River Pollution

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has condemned the level of pollution of the state’s water resources that has degraded its ecosystem over the years.

To this end, he charged the Ministry of Water Resources and other relevant stakeholders to come up with an action plan that would enable government achieve its agenda in harnessing its water resources.

Senator Diri gave the charge on Monday during this year’s World Water Day celebration with the theme: “Valuing Water” at the Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye Conference Centre in Yenagoa.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as noting that the statistics regarding the current water, sanitation and hygiene systems were far below expectation.

The governor assured that his administration would utilise resources at its disposal to improve access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene as part of efforts in promoting healthy lifestyles.

“Water is invaluable but we have abused it in Bayelsa. God endowed us with water resources and rather than respecting and protecting it, people are abusing our rivers through the operation of illegal refineries and other human activities that have destroyed our natural fauna.

“I call for an action plan that would enabe this government achieve its prosperity agenda. Our plan is to ensure we provide potable water across all our local government areas.”

The governor also inaugurated the state Council on Water Resources as well as set up an Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).

He chairs the WASH Committee while the Water Resources Commissioner is chairman of the Council on Water Resources.

In his address, the Commissioner for Water Resources, Wariebi Kemebradikumo, said the government has restored water supply in parts of the state capital like Ovom as well as approved the operation and calibration of the 450 cubic metre per day Ovom waterworks, the 1,500 cubic metre per day Okaka main waterworks and 3,600 cubic metre per day Otuoke regional waterworks.

Kemebradikumo also said the Yenagoa reticulation was receiving attention and would soon be replaced.
In his presentation,  Director of Corporate Support Services, Engr Sunday Idowu, who represented Engr U.B. Magashi, Executive Director in the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission, described water as a precious asset central to the basic needs of life.

He also identified some challenges in water development and management in the country, which include lack of political will, pollution of water resources and climate change.

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