A coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have proffered solutions to the Bayelsa state Oil and Environmental Commission (BSOEC) set up by governor Seriake Dickson on the ways to handle activities of oil companies and environmental challenges facing the state.
Speaking at a one-day roundtable meeting in Yenagoa, the CSOs advised the commission to liaise with the federal government and come up with a document that would outlive the outgoing Bayelsa state government.
The CSOs whose members were drawn from the Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organizations Forum (BANGOF) and environmental experts, admonished that the commission’s report which will be submitted by December should mandate oil companies operating in the state to locate their office in the state.
In his welcome address, chairman of the commission, Arch. Bishop John Sentamu thanked participants for attending and promised to put all contributions made at the event into consideration.
Arch. Bishop Sentamu said the commission was an independent group of commissioners that was assembled to look into the environmental and human impact of oil spills in Bayelsa State.
He said: “we have organized this meeting as we believe civil society organizations play a vital role in ensuring communities are represented and in addressing society’s injustices through a neutral platform.
“Many of you have been involved in issues of social, political and economic justice in the Niger Delta for a number of years. Today, we would like to hear from you about the work you have been doing in Bayelsa in relation to oil spills and what you would like to see from the oil companies in terms of their operations in your communities.
“I would also like to thank BANGOF, the Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisations Forum, for collaborating with the Commission to host this session. Your tireless work in ensuring that your communities voices are heard is incredibly important to creating a more transparent, accountable and peaceful society.”