Bayelsa facing environmental genocide, says Archbishop of York
Chairman of the Bayelsa State Environmental Degradation Commission and Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, says the state is facing environmental terrorism that could lead to genocide.
The prominent cleric said that it would be unfair for anybody to describe the magnitude of violence done to the environment through spillages and pollution by the oil firms as degradation.
Dr. Sentamu raised the alarm while speaking to journalists shortly after a special service at the Government House in Yenagoa yesterday.
A statement by his Special Adviser, Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, quoted him as lamenting that the environment had been destroyed by unchecked pollution, which culminated in the destruction of livelihoods.
He reportedly embarked on a trip for about six hours along Bayelsa waterways without seeing any bird due to despoliation of the environment.
The archbishop, who blamed the oil companies for not taking into cognisance the negative effect of their activities, called on the people to speak out and draw international attention to their plight.
His words: “When you talk about environmental degradation, it sounds as if it is acceptable. In other words, it is bad but not really too bad, whereas genocide is a tough word; (that) you are actually killing.
“I went into the river for about four to six hours without seeing a single bird flying anywhere? You would have expected to see them because they should be plenty; but the habitat has been destroyed.
“What is going on is that bio-diversity is not what it should be, so we need words that actually express the truth.
“I said in my sermon there that corruption has become a very weak word because it doesn’t tell you who is corrupt or who is corrupting who; I would rather use the words ‘organised theft’ and ‘organised bribery’. That what is causing the trouble.”
The cleric, who also spoke on the November 2019 gubernatorial election in the state, enjoined whoever emerges as governor to be a humble servant, and not to dominate and enrich himself at the detriment of the people.
According to him, a true leader is known for selfless service to the people, and not for being power-drunk with unbridled quest for wealth.