The Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri has disclosed government’s plan to set up environmental guards to check deforestation and other environmental infractions.
He made the disclosure on Tuesday, June 15, at this year’s World Environmental Day celebration in Yenagoa, the state capital.
The Governor stated that the body will be known as Bayelsa State Environmental Vanguard, adding that this has become necessary following the degradation of the environment caused by oil exploration and exploitation by international oil companies.
He urged Bayelsans to shun such practices that are inimical to preservation of the environment adding that a healthy environment is fundamental to the survival of the people.
“Let me seize this medium to call on Bayelsans and residents to individually and collectively ensure behavioural change.
“Take responsibility of watching over our environment. I put you all on notice to defend our environment. Degradation of the Bayelsa environment must come to an end.
“The fight to preserve the integrity of the environment is global. But in Bayelsa, let us localise it, own it, speak it and work it.”
Governor Diri also directed the Commissioner for Environment to constitute a team for the establishment of a Bayelsa State Environmental Vanguard.
He said the team would be saddled with the responsibility of ensuring a clean and healthy environment and also directed the State Physical Planning Board to ensure that all development plans had green areas to mitigate the heat caused by climate change and global warming.
The Governor called on oil companies, government officials and well-meaning individuals to collaborate with the state government to achieve his administration’s policy of restoring the ecosystem.
In his goodwill message, Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, represented by chairman of the Committee on Environment, Hon. Ben Ololo, said the state’s environment was highly polluted due to unhealthy practices.
He called for tree planting, cleaning of drainages among other measures to preserve the environment.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Iselema Gbaranbiri, re-emphasised the importance of a healthy environment as necessary for healthy living.
He warned against illegal felling of trees which is responsible for the deforestation the state is experiencing and urged oil companies to contribute to the restoration of the environment which has been degraded as a result of oil exploration.
High points of the event were a lecture delivered by Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Niger Delta University, Prof. Ibaba S. Ibaba and poem recitations on the environment by students of different secondary schools in the state.