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By Saint Mienpamo.?

Business24

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According to?Mahatma Gandhi, a preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruledIndia who employed?non-violent civil disobedience in leading India to independence,??whatwe are doing to the forests?and waterways?of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are?doing to?ourselves and to one?another.??This is akin?the clarion call by rural dwellers of Southern Ijaw Local Government to find ways of?checking further pollution of the ecosystem resulting from activities of?illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism and?refining of petroleum?products.

Responsive as the Chief?Ogbe-led administration in Southern Ijaw Local Government has proven to be from inception, a meeting of paramount rulers, community development committee chairmen, youth presidents and women leaders drawn from every autonomous community?in the area was convened.?Resultantly,?the well-attended meeting rose with a communique to discontinue all forms of?illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism and?refining ofpetroleum?products?in the area.

As?a government that?upholds?the rule of law,?the?Southern Ijaw Local Government sets outto?fully?execute?the?framework to?eradicate the aforestated?nefarious?activities. In?doing this,the?Southern Ijaw Local Government boss?proposed an?executive bill to the?Southern?IjawLocal?Government?Legislative Arm?for the?establishment of?a?Southern Ijaw Local Government Oil and Gas Taskforce.

Consequent upon?its?passage into a bylaw and?subsequent?inauguration?on?Wednesday?7thMay?2014, the taskforce,?collaborating with the?Joint Task Force (Operation?Pulo?Shield),?theNigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps,?and the Nigerian?Navy?have been traversing therivers, creeks and tributaries?of?Southern Ijaw Local Government with a view to?eradicatingillegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism in?the area.?Resultantly, it?is?gratifying?to note thatrural dwellers have reverted to the status quo?of?accessing water?from natural sources.Agreeably,?since the Southern Ijaw Local Government?Oil and Gas Taskforce assumed duty,the production capacity?of the Nigerian?Agip?Oil Company?for instance?in its??TebidabaSwamp Area?Field??has increased?to?an?all-high level in?six?years. Obviously, this experience has boosted the?crude production capacity of Bayelsa State and by extension Nigeria.?Just a few?months ago,?the Nigerian?Agip?Oil Company?had?threatened to shut down?operations in the?area?as it was unable to pay staff?emoluments.

Mischievous as it?may seem, as?a?consequence of the foregoing efforts of the Southern Ijaw Local Government aimed at totally eradicating illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism and illegal?refining of petroleum products, there have?been several?threats on the life of the Southern Ijaw Local Government helmsman, the Special Adviser?to?the Executive Chairman on?Oil and Gas, Director of Security, the Chief Security Officer,?leadership and members of the taskforce.?A?case in point?was the?trailing?of the Executive Chairman?along the marine routes?leading to?Amassoma?by?unknown gunmen in military camouflage.?This was preceded by the?recent?invasion of the?base of the?Southern Ijaw Local Government Oil and Gas Taskforce?in?Olugbobiri?community.?Investigations reveal that these threats are not unconnected with the involvement of?some?ex-militants of the area who have been beneficiaries of?the aforestated?acts?that?have?caused devastation to the ecosystem, and of course the loss of lives.?Also worrisome are plans by this cartel of pipeline vandals, illegal?bunkers, and illegal crude?refiners?who have directed their killer?squads to monitor the movement of family members of the Executive Chairman of Southern Ijaw Local Government and other principal officers?to?assassinate them.

It therefore becomes imperative for?the Nigerian Police and other?security agents to interveneby mobilizing more personnel to the area. Understanding how capital intensive?surveillanceoperations?such as this could be,?and?its?attendant benefit to the nation, the?federalgovernment?of Nigeria should equally?complement?the efforts of the Southern Ijaw Local Government in order to sustain this intervention that has?already begun yielding dividends.Multinational corporations operating in the area?on their part could synergise with the Southern Ijaw Local Government?in institutionalizing?the?security?of pipelines, whilecommunities?are enjoined to?report?suspected?offenders to law-enforcement agents.?All?hands must be on deck in sustaining a healthy environment for all.

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