The Coordinator of Presidential Amnesty Programme(PAP), retired Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh, says decades of oil exploration and production had degraded the Niger Delta ecology, with the populace, wildlife and agriculture at great risk.
Boroh, who is also the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, made this known in an interview on Thursday in Abuja.
The presidential aide stressed the urgent need for the restoration of the creeks, lakes and water channels in the Niger Delta region to near pristine state, with a view to supporting the human population, indigenous wildlife and agriculture.
He recalled his recent meeting with some stakeholders in Benin, the capital of Edo state, that focused on the environmental remediation as it affects the region.
“This may take a long term plan and could be the basis of training to create job opportunities for the youths who should be properly sensitised to guard against conflicts, imbibe peace-building concepts to either rebuild or recreate a substantial part of their environment and their life.
“Although there is general dissatisfaction at the reduced inclusion of youths in the oil and gas economy, the accompanying loss of traditional economy, poor yields in agriculture and the various previously unknown hazards that are becoming threats, have generally increased the cost of living index in the region,” he said.
According to him, there is need for concerted efforts to ensure peace and stability of the Niger Delta in terms of socio-economic, socio-political and human capacity development, as well as sustainability of the environment.
Boroh maintained that there is an existing proclamation of the clean-up of the Niger Delta, commencing with Ogoniland.
He stressed that the exercise should include issues of soil remediation with appropriate emulsifiers, forest regeneration and reintroduction of additional tropical forestry.
He canvassed for the reintroduction of indigenous wildlife and fish, inserts and wild flowers so that the creeks, lakes and water channels are restored to near pristine state that will continue to support the wildlife in the environment.
The coordinator called on stakeholders to proffer lasting solutions to issues such as natural gas flaring, discharge of oil or its by-products, oil drilling, dredging of the swamp waters by oil multinationals for access to pipelines and facilities.
He identified main sources of environmental degradation in the region as chemicals and wastes, which mainly occur as result of equipment failures, operational errors, or willful destruction of the pipeline by some vandals.
Boroh said the focus of PAP is the human capacity of the youths through various educational and vocational trainings and empowerment programmes to prepare them in line with the Federal Government’s new vision for the region.
He maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has demonstrated sufficient commitment to the peace, stability and sustainable development of the region.