Bayelsa sets up environmental degradation panel of inquiry
• Experts move to address coastal erosion, flooding
Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, has set up the State Environmental Degradation Commission of Inquiry to investigate the negative impact of oil exploration in the state.
The new commission is made up of foreign experts, diplomats and forensic experts including the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu (chairman); former President of Ghana, John Kufuor; former member of the British Cabinet and House of Lords, Baroness Valerie Brondesbury; and a principal at the Fydow Forensics, Daniel Onifade.
Also on the commission are the former attorney-general and commissioner of justice (Bayelsa), Wodu Kemesuode (counsel); Head, School of Law, University of Bradford, Prof. Engine Emeseh; professor of Public Economics, University of St. Gallen, Roland Holder; and Dr. Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dohou.
Inaugurating the commission yesterday at the Government House, Dickson said the panel would work for nine months and submit its report, adding that its lifespan could be extended.
He also gave the commission, whose terms of reference include investigating the circumstances surrounding oil spills and their environmental and human impact, powers to conduct private hearings, both within and outside the country.
Chairman of the panel commended Dickson for setting up the commission.
Similarly, worried by the impact of erosion and flood in the country, policymakers, academics and government agencies have moved to address environmental degradation.
In a two-day roundtable on ‘Marine and Coastal Biodiversity in Nigeria’ organised by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), in collaboration with the Rivers State University (RSU) in Port Harcourt, the experts stressed the need to implement policies that can make the oceans and coasts serve the people in a more suitable way.
The conference themed ‘Sustainable Development in Nigeria’s Coastal and Marine Environments’ was aimed at addressing the negative status of the nation’s coastal and marine resources and to build on earlier efforts.
Also present at the complex interactions were some polluters like oil multinationals.
Director-general of NCF, Muhtari Aminu-Kano, said every mechanism would be put in place to ensure that the conference was not another talkshop, adding that a working group would be set up to monitor the recommendations to ensure their implementation to the letter.
Vice Chancellor of RSU, Blessing Didia, noted that the marine and coastal biodiversity of the Niger Delta provide food, energy, water, jobs and economic benefits for the people.
According t him, such are resources for sustainable development and crucial buffers against climate change.
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