Niger Delta Stakeholders led by the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly yesterday attributed the rising tension in the region to the alarming pollution of host communities by Oil multinationals.
According to the Bayelsa Speaker, Hon. Kombowei Benson, the Niger Delta region environment as most bastardized, distorted and wasted.
Speaker Kombowei Benson, who led Members of the State House of Assembly to a two-day training workshop on “Best Practice Mechanisms for Natural Resources Governance”,said described the theme for the training as apt, adding that the forum came at a time when the region is constantly at the mercy of pollution and degradation.
The training, which was organised by a Niger Delta-based civil society organisation, the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) in collaboration with Amnesty International London, agreed on the need for protection of rights of the people in the region.
Hon. Konbowei Benson, also noted that the training and capacity building was necessary to make society and institutions function better, especially in law making, “We are open to building our capacity anytime the need arises .Training or capacity building is a continuous process in life”.
In his welcome address, Nenibarini Zabbey, CEHRD’s co-ordinator, stressed the need for the enhancement of the understanding of various instruments for sustainable management of natural resources in order to protect human rights.
He noted that natural resources were “fast depleting due to uncontrollable exploitation and poor management” and “legal and regulatory frameworks in place are ineffective”.
“The current paradigm of natural resources governance emphasises adaptive management and systems thinking. This simply means stakeholder participation in the management chain”, Zabbey said.
The Embassy of The Netherlands, Abuja, in its goodwill message through Angelique van der Made,the Political Secretary in charge of Human Rights, enjoined the participating lawmakers to ensure they gained useful insights that would make them much more useful in their legislative activities.
In his goodwill message, Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) noted that the region, as one of the world’s largest wetlands, was among the top ten most polluted places on earth.
Bassey, who was represented by Constance Meju, a board member of CEHRD, therefore opined that “being a law maker in the Niger Delta is more than a full time job”.
Also, Rev. Father Edward Obi, the national co-ordinator of National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spill in the Niger Delta (NACGOND), observed that oil and gas-related tensions would be reduced where appropriate institutions exist to adequately mediate and ensure development that places the human person at the centre.
Resource persons including Fidelis Allen and Austin Onuoha presented papers on “Using Legislative Oversight Functions to Strengthen Compliance of Nigerian Environmental Regulations” and “Role of the Legislature in the Implementation of International Instruments on Business and Human Rights”, among others