Kinsmen of former President, Goodluck Jonathan, have lamented over what they described as oil exploitation and environmental terrorism by oil companies operating in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa state.
They also noted that farming and fishing which were their major sources of livelihood before the discovery of oil in commercial quantity at Oloibiri well 14, in Otuabagi community of Bayelsa state, would have been better off to them than the oil that has brought suffering upon them.
The people, who represented all the clans and villages of Ogbia Local Government Area, made their positions known during the LGA stakeholders meeting with the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission (BSOEC), organised by the state government in Ogbia town, on Tuesday.
According to Chief Standfast Harold Onyingbo, infants and children are lost through water borne diseases at different occasion due to spillage on their rivers which is the only source for drinking water, adding that the waterways which is of economic value to them because of the fishing activities have been destroyed.
Onyingbo further stated that coco yam, which is one of their major source of feeding, has all gone into extinction because of frequent spills on their farmlands.
“Our children can’t be healthy, we lose so many on different times, our water are polluted. The fisher folks go fishing throughout the whole night and come back with nothing because our fishes are all dead.
“Our youths are jobless, and now resulting to the culture of militancy and other vices that are inimical to the society. Poverty has really bitten us, the night life we use to enjoy through gathering together for folk tales can’t be done because of the fear not to be attacked by our own people.”
Another community folk, High Chief Dennis Ovoh Adogu from Oloibiri community, accused the oil companies of using the monies from the oil in their area to develop Abuja and other places of their choice while the community where oil was first found is totally neglected.
Adogu lamented that federal government’s presence is not felt at all despite the abundance of oil in the area, adding that the people of Ogbia will soon rise and stage a protest against the government and all the operating oil companies.
In his remarks, the community Development Chairman, Otuasega community, Comrade Confidence Moses alleged that the oil companies particularly SPDC has caused more harm to them than good, adding that the girls from their communities are now into prostitution and the youths into bunkering and militancy due to the poverty in their communities.
“We live in leaked roofs, and mud houses. We even bathe in polluted river because we lack basic amenities like a bathroom, our land are no more rich for farming because of the exploration and spills. Our due privileges should be given us, no employment in the companies even as cleaners and drivers. No opportunities for scholarships from the companies.”
The woman leader of Otuabagi community, George Mitema Souye said, “till this moment as we speak there’s oil spillage going on in the second well presently, most women in our affected communities have series of miscarriage due to the crude impact,” adding that young ladies get to stages of menopause due to the effects.
She also said “the only benefits we get from crude is the ones we use on the body of our children when they are sick because is our belief that since there are no hospitals the crude will get their skin better when they contact measles”.
Responding, the Chairman of the commission, Most Rev. John Sentamu stated that they were committed to working and finding solutions to the challenges, adding that most of the things said are not new but old problems that have not gone away.
Sentamu, who was representation by the Chair of the expert working group, Dr. Kathryn Nwajiaku- Dahou (Commissioner), promised the people to put all their complains in a report and follow-up with serious advocacy.
He said their voices will be heard as they work towards achieving positive outcome, appealing however that they should continue the conversation in written form for feedback.