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Environmentalist Urges Probe Of Fishes’ Death On Coastline

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A renowned Environmentalist, Rev Nnimmo Bassey has urged governments and oil industry regulators to investigate the cause of dead fishes littering the Atlantic coastline in Delta and Bayelsa States.
Bassey, who made the call a reaction to reports of massive death of fish by coastline residents, noted that the development portends danger capable of wiping off fish species and depleting the biodiversity of the Niger Delta.
Bassey, who holds a National Honours Award  of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) for Environmental Activism, spoke in an interview with newsmen in Yenagoa.
He said that littering of the coastline for more than three weeks may be an indication of increased toxicity of the coastline, adding that consuming the dead fishes may pose a public health danger.
“We have been listening to hear exactly what triggered the death of so much fishes that were washed onshore.
“By this time, NOSDRA should have made a definitive statement, especially since there are oil platforms not too far off that coast.
“While we wait to hear from those who should know, this is a serious health issue.
“The Ministries of Health and Environment at state and national levels should be concerned about the health impact on the communities and the wider region inhibitants who consume the obviously poisoned fish.
“Some stories we hear is that some toxic wastes may have been dumped into the sea by oil company operators.
“If that is found to be true, such a company should be held responsible for endangering the health of the people and for ecological damage and destruction of the people’s livelihood.
“This matter should not be swept under the carpet or locked away because we are focusing attention on the coronavirus pandemic.
“The dead fishes are  smoking guns of a serious crime,” Bassey said.
The residents along Foropa and Sangana axis of the Atlantic coastline in Bayelsa had reported sighting dead fishes littering the shoreline, since the middle of March.
Some of the residents said the occurrence was noticed since March 15 and had yet to abate fueling fears of pollution of the country’s territorial waters by toxic substances.
A forum of Community Development Committees (CDCs), hosts to Chevron oilfields in Bayelsa had appealed to the federal and state governments to check the impact of suspected toxic pollution across the Atlantic coastline.
They said the pollution was a threat to the predominantly fishing settlement and caused hardship to the host communities.
The forum led by it’s Chairman, Chief Captain Patrick Ekubo and Secretary, Mr Biraladei Brisibe Wuka said the call became imperative as the oil firms operating in the area had shown no concern.
Wuka said the strange increased toxicity of the Atlantic ocean is causing concerns for their health.
They urged oil industry regulators to trace the source of the pollution and appealed to NOSDRA to immediately constitute a joint investigation team to ascertain the cause of the toxic pollution that had endangered their lives.

The communities: Koluama, Ekeni, Ezetu, Foropa Fishtown and Sangana in Brass and Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa urged NOSDRA to wrap up the probe within 21 days or risk a total shutdown of oil facilities in the area.
However, Chevron Nigeria Ltd (CNL) which operates oilfield near the communities in a response to requests for reaction by NAN said that there were no leaks from its facilities in the area.
Mr Esimaje Brikinn, General Manager – Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Nigeria Ltd, denied any links with the alleged pollution with the operations of its oil firm.
“CNL and Star Deep confirm that there has not been any chemical release from any of our facilities.” Chevron said.
Mr Idris Musa, Director-General, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), said the spill agency would commence an investigation as soon as the lockdown for the COVID-19 was lifted.

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Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road

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No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.

By: Taneh Beemene

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Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank

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The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.

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Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.

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