Ogoni cleanup, a fulfillment of Buhari’s promise —Semenitari

Posted by News Express | 2 June 2016 | 3,357 times

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has said that the strategic clean-up of Ogoni land marks the beginning of the fulfillment of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government’s promise to clean up the environmentally polluted region.

The Acting Managing Director of the commission, Ibim Semenitari, who described the clean-up as significant to people of Niger Delta and NDDC in particular, noted that the exercise will mark the highpoint of this year’s World Environment Day (WED) celebrations.

“This is why we must all rise to the daunting and pressing challenge of preserving our bio-diverse environment for future generations. We all owe future generations a responsibility to preserve the bio-diverse environment of the Niger Delta. As the countdown begins for us to join people from across the globe to celebrate WED on June 5, 2016, we all need to take part in environmental action and become agents of change for positive impact on the planet.”

Semenitari, who disclosed this in a speech entitled ‘Towards preserving a bio-diverse environment for future generations,’ added that the celebration will also feature tree-planting exercise, which according to her, typifies one of such exercises in which members of the public are expected to participate as proof of their commitment to the preservation of the region’s environment and bio-diversity.

“This year’s theme for WED – Go Wild for Life – encourages each one of us to celebrate all those species under threat and take action of our own to help safeguard them for future generations. This can be about animals or plants that are threatened within your local area, as well as at the national or global level. Local extinctions will eventually add up to a global extinction! Whoever you are, and wherever you live, show zero-tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife, and destruction of our environment, in word and deed.”

She recalled a statement made by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, during their regional tour. He said: “For us in Bayelsa, our wealth is in the sea.”

According to the acting NDDC boss, “That profound statement underscores the immense endowment of the Niger Delta’s ecosystem. What is unfortunate, however, is how this same resource is constantly abused and denigrated by repeated violations brought about by decades of bad behavior: from government, with its weak regulatory frameworks, oil companies and multinationals who do business in the region, to communities and individuals, who for different reasons wreak havoc on the environment.”

She noted that the zone which covers about 70,000 square kilometres, is home to one of the largest wetlands in the world and Africa’s largest delta. It has at least five distinct ecological zones. “These bio-geographical attributes are known to have created the complex and rich environment of habitats that supported the evolution of its fantastically wide range of plant and animal lives.”

Semenitari regretted that the environment and biodiversity of the Niger Delta are in grave danger. “Some endemic fish species of the region are in grave danger of extinction due to many reasons, including environmental degradation and over-exploitation, among others. Likewise, some animal species such as the endemic African monkey (Guenon species), one of the world’s most beautiful monkeys found mostly in the West African rain forest (Niger Delta inclusive), are at the risk of extinction.”

Expatiating the mandate of her commission, Semenitari averred: “The NDDC is statutorily mandated to tackle ecological and environmental problems in the Niger Delta region. Evidently, the killing and smuggling of wildlife constitute ecological and environmental problems. They also undermine economies and ecosystems, fuel organised crime, and feed corruption and insecurity across the globe. Tackling the scourge of illegal trade in wildlife requires concerted action. We need to understand the damage this illicit business is doing to our environment, livelihoods, communities and security. We must change our habits and behaviour, so that demand for illegal wildlife products falls.

“But it is not just the demand for illegal wildlife that must fall. It is also the demand for illegal crude, the destruction and vandalism of pipelines in the region. Our ecosystem is our wealth, and the protection of our region is, first and foremost, the responsibility of all who live and do business in the region. Saying no to everyone who dares to destroy our environment – whether governments, corporations or individuals – is our collective responsibility.”

Photo shows Ibim Seminitari

Source: News Express

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