In order to check deforestation and other environmental infractions, Bayelsa State would soon set up a body to be known as Bayelsa State Environmental Vanguard.
Governor Douye Diri, who disclosed this on Tuesday during the celebration of this year’s World Environmental Day in the state, lamented the degradation of the environment through oil exploration and exploitation activities by international oil companies, illegal oil bunkering and other unhealthy environmental practices.
The governor, in a press release issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, urged Bayelsans to shun practices that are inimical to preservation of the environment.
He called for concerted effort to preserve the environment, adding that a healthy environment is fundamental to the survival of the people.
He said: “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 directed the Commissioner for the Environment to constitute a team for the establishment of a Bayelsa State Environmental Vanguard, which would be saddled with the responsibility of ensuring a clean and healthy environment.
He also directed the ministry and 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.
He called on oil companies, government officials and well-meaning individuals to collaborate with 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, noted that the state’s environment was highly polluted due to unhealthy practices and called for tree planting, cleaning of drainages among other measures to preserve a healthy environment.
In a welcome address, the Commissioner for the Environment, Hon. Iselema Gbaranbiri, re-emphasised the importance of a healthy environment to healthy living and urged the oil companies to be committed to the restoration of the degraded environment due to oil exploration.
Gbaranbiri warned against illegal felling of trees, which he said was leading to deforestation of forest in the state.
Highpoints of the event were poem recitations on the environment by students of different secondary schools in the state as well as a lecture delivered by Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Niger Delta University, Prof. Ibaba S. I Ibaba.