Recent notice by the Nigerian Space Research Development Agency, NASRDA, of probable earthquake in five states among them Bayelsa, has stepped up fears in the largely riverine Ijaw-speaking state.
Earth tremor had been recorded at different times in the last four years around the Biseni and Igbogene axis of Yenagoa local government area of the state and border communities of Ahoada West local government area in Rivers state, causing cracks to buildings and traumatizing the helpless natives.
Concerned stakeholders under the aegis of Ijaw Professionals Association, IPA, Homeland Chapter, Iniruo Wills, last weekend, in Yenagoa called on Bayelsa and Federal Governments not to ignore the ongoing ecological emergencies and humanitarian crises threatening the continued existence of hundreds of communities in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta state.
“The development is adding a new and troubling dimension to the mortal cocktail of environmental hazards faced by the Ijaws and the Niger Delta peoples.”
Wills said “The authorities should direct and adequately fund the Nigerian Geological Surveys Agency to commission or conduct in consultation with concerned state governments a thorough study to monitor and predict earthquake flash points and adequately prepare to avert or deal with any event or risk of earthquakes and tremors, to avoid the national threat and shame of being caught napping as with the recurrent flood disasters,”.
He described as disquieting successive governments’ inability to come up with an integrated ecological management plan to address the myriad of environmental malaise and maladies bedeviling the Ijaws and the Niger Delta region.
Wills, a former commissioner for Information and Environment lamented that ministries of environment in the three states lacked robust data management platform needed to effectively plan and resolve difficult environmental issues such as flooding and oil pollution and called for increased funding to the ministry to enhance performance.
Also, speaking on NASRDA pronouncement and earth tremor in the region, Project Officer/Head, ERA Niger Delta Resource Centre, Yenagoa, Comrade Alagoa Morris, said: “The warning needs to be taken seriously; especially if we juxtapose the example of boreholes for water (as adduced by the NASRDA) and years of drilling for crude oil and gas in the Niger Delta environment and the millions of barrels of crude oil extracted daily from the environment of communities).
Morris added “As important as every part of Nigeria is, the pronouncement is even more worrisome when one considers the fact that Igbogene, a community in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa state is so listed among likely locations that will experience the earthquake in the country”.