In keeping with the maxim of taking care of the goose that lays the golden egg, an environmental activism group has called on the federal and state governments as well as multinationals to pay greater attention to the development of oil and gas communities.
The Swamp Area Oil and Gas Producing Communities Association in Bayelsa State, meeting in the state capital Yenegoa, decried the economic woes faced by such communities as result of oil spill and other environmental hazards.
Chairman of the group, Victor Igbaba, described the neglect of oil bearing communities as “criminal”, when compared to their huge contributions to the national economy.
Igbaba, together with about 300 monarchs who attended the meeting, questioned the attitude of multinational companies over the implementation of memorandum of understanding (MoU) entered into with various communities in the Niger Delta region.
While emphasizing that the newly established association had resolved to task the Federal Government, state government and multinationals on development of the communities and youth employment, he also said the association is pushing to ensure that pipelines surveillance jobs are given to community youths who know every inch of pipelines in their area for greater security of oil facilities, and canvassed for the establishment of a refinery in the state to provide job opportunities for youths to counter the negative effects of illegal refining of crude oil with grave consequences for personal health and the environment.
Igbaba pointed out that most surveillance contracts are awarded to individuals without any knowledge of the area hence the increasing cases of pipelines vandalisation, bunkering and theft.