Stakeholders Alliance for Corporate Accountability (SACA) a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) is partnering with the Bayelsa state government to safeguard the lives of children against hazardous effects of oil spills.
This was disclosed on Thursday during an inaugural ceremony of SACA’s Child-Driven Safeguarding Project at schools level held in Yenagoa, the state capital in partnership with ministries of Education, Environment and Health.
In her opening remarks, the chairperson, Project Management Committee (PMC) of SACA, Dr. Christiana MacDonald, averred that both the rich, poor, educated and uneducated face the deadly risk of oil spill hence the advocacy for a safe environment in Bayelsa, especially for children.
Dr. MacDonald, who is also a private school proprietress, said in the coming weeks, SACA through the PMC would be setting up pilot centres as safeguarding clubs both in public and private schools in the state to create awareness of the scourge amongst school children.
Also speaking , the Executive Director of SACA, Mr. Kingsley Ozegbe pointed out that research had shown that children growing up in an environment full of oil spill pollution were prone to different kinds of killer diseases due to the toxic effects of crude oil.
Dr. Ozegbe said there was the need for children to know about the negative effects of oil spills to their health so as to raise the alarm for quick response by the relevant authorities.
He hinted that child-driven safeguarding clubs would be formed in twenty pilot school across the state in the next one week with each club having a child safeguarding officer and course adviser.
In their respective goodwill messages, Commissioners for Education, Environment and Health, who were represented by Permanent Secretaries of the ministries expressed the state government’s readiness to partner with the NGO to ensure a safe environment for all Bayelsans.
Participants at the one-day inaugural ceremony identified equipment failure on the part of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) as well as sabotage as the major reasons for oil spills in the Niger Delta and Bayelsa in particular.
Highlights of the event were presentation of papers by environmental and health experts on crude oil pollution and it’s negative effects as well as interactive session by all participants at the event which was held at the conference hall of the ministry of education.