From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, yesterday commenced on sensitization of over 100 Niger Delta youths on environmental laws and assessment.
The Programmes Manager of ERA Barr Mike Karikpo, said the workshop intends to introduce young people, teenagers between the ages of 13 – 19 years, to the laws and conventions around environmental issues in Nigeria and globally.
Karikpo said the programme mapped out to last for five years, is in partnership with young people from Norway, who have shown interest to train youths in the region on environmental law and entrepreneurship. He said participants at the programme were selected from Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
He said: “Is a five years programme. We are working with young people from Norway and we want to build a crop of young people living in the Niger Delta who understand both the local and global context on environmental issues, and who can also participate in entrepreneurship relating to renewable energy within our environment, even the impact of pollution on our land, rivers and our lives.
“We selected our participants from Energy clubs around Rivers and Bayelsa, especially the Ogoni area. The programme is restricted to only Niger Delta youths. Presently we are working in Edo, Rivers, Bayels and Delta states. A few weeks ago we had the Delta contingents, Rivers, Bayelsa and Edo here for entrepreneurship training. We are trying to build young people who lead can Nigeria in different sectors in which they want to play.”
The ERA programmes Manger expressed happiness that young people in Niger Delta are also following the environment and the issues that are going on around them, saying that the youths have proved that they understand the context in which they live in.
Earlier in his paper presentation titled, “Review of the NOSDRA Act and how it affects youths”, Dr Tari Dadiowei, noted that there are gaps in the enacted Bill, stressing that the law failed to include the oil communities in the governing council of NOSDRA.
Dr Dadiowei who is a Lecturer with Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education, Bayelsa, opined that instead of Abuja, the headquarter of NOSDRA should be in one of the states in the South-South, so as to be closer to the oil bearing communities where they can easily monitor the activities of the oil producing companies.
He said “There are gabs in the NOSDRA bill because of the non inclusion of oil communities in the governing council. We also have the oil producers’ trade sector in the Niger Delta but they were not part of the council and the headquarters of NOSDRA should be relocated to the South-South just as it was done in Borno state against Boko Haram.
Calling for Improved fund for NOSDRA, Dr Dadiowei said “The communities should be involved in dictating and pointing out spills, owners must be involved in negotiating compensation. They are supposed to be part of the negotiation in determining how much should be paid to members of the community whose property has been polluted.”
Some of the participants who spoke with The AUTHORITY expressed gratitude to ERA, saying that the training has exposed them more on the issue of environment and the laws that protect the people and its environment.