A foremost environmentalist, Mr. Alagoa Morris, has raised the alarm that several coastal communities in the Niger Delta are facing imminent extinction due to recurring ocean surge and coastal erosion.
Morris, the Bayelsa State Coordinator, Environmental Right Action, expressed concern that communities’ lands along the coastlines are washed into the Atlantic Ocean, rivers and creeks in the region on a daily basis.
The environmentalist, who expressed his fears through a statement via electronic mail on Saturday, said the threats cut across communities in Bayelsa, Ondo, Delta and Rivers states, among others.
He said, “This threat cuts across such communities in the Niger Delta from Ondo to Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states, among others.
“Those of us who visit the affected communities from time to time have no option but to take the risk of ‘crying more than the bereaved’ as the communities have lost their voices and confidence in government to assist them.
“Communities in Bayelsa such as Anibeze in Sagbama Local Government Area, Peremabiri and others in Southern Ijaw, Fangbe in Yenagoa LGA, Anyama and Abobiri in Ogbia LGA, etc. are all along rivers and seriously threatened by coastal erosion current.
“The same is the case with other communities in the state such as Twon-Brass, Okpoama, Sangana,
Odioama in Brass LGA; Koluama 1 and 2, Ekeni, Ezetu in Southern Ijaw, etc. are threatened by oceanification (ocean encroachment).”
He added that communities’ lands, school buildings, roads, burial grounds, farmlands, among others, were being washed into the water every now and then.
Morris said the environmental challenge such as desertification was far beyond what any community could shoulder.
He, therefore, advocated an effective collaboration between the LGAs and the state government in seeking the attention and assistance of the Federal Government interventionist agencies like the NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
He regretted that the LGAs seemed not to know what they were supposed to do in delivering on the dividends of democracy to the people being the closest arm of government to the grassroots.
He noted, “Unfortunately too, there is an abandoned shoreline protection contract awarded by the NDDC at Sangana in Bayelsa but the fury of the ocean continues on the shoreline, eating deeper into the community.
“There is the need for the state governments in the Niger Delta to give serious attention to coastal erosion and oceanification with a view to tackling the menace effectively by taking action in collaboration with the Federal Government interventionist agencies.”
Morris said another disturbing development was the alleged N1tn the Federal Government owed the NDDC as counterpart funding.
He urged the Federal Government to show good example to the oil companies and not to leave everything about community development to them.
He said the development was another reason for violence in the region as the government had been shirking its responsibility to develop the communities.