UN visit: Diri pledges implementation of SDGs, seeks Niger Delta clean-up

UN visit: Diri pledges implementation of SDGs, seeks Niger Delta clean-up

By Cecilia Ologunagba, New York.

 

Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa has reiterated the commitment of his administration to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to enhance the living conditions of the citizens.

 

Diri gave the assurance when he visited the United Nations (UN) Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, at the UN headquarters in New York.

 

He said that the continued collaboration with the UN would fast-track development in such areas as education, health, youth and women empowerment, food production and the environment.

 

The governor, who congratulated Mohammed for rising to the enviable position and for her great work at the UN, said that the collaboration would enhance the prosperity agenda of his government for the people of the state.

 

He said that his government had been building critical infrastructure that would provide great opportunities to open up Bayelsa State for more investments in different sectors.

 

“First, we are here to congratulate you on your appointment and to say that you are a worthy ambassador of Nigeria in the United Nations.

 

“So far, you have done very well occupying this office, please continue to help humanity. We have come to strengthen the existing relationship between Bayelsa and the UN.

 

“We are committed to the attainment of the SDGs for the betterment of our people in education, health, sanitation, access to clean water and ensuring we live in a safe environment devoid of pollution,” he said.

 

Diri said that the state government had made deliberate efforts to open up the maritime domain with the three ongoing road projects, linking several riverine communities and corridors to the Atlantic Ocean.

 

According to him, so much opportunity exists for the establishment of a seaport and massive aquaculture projects.

 

“Yes, we are an oil-producing state but we have more wealth in the sea and agriculture because we are located in the Gulf of Guinea; we must also strive to tackle the security issues on our water ways to attract serious investments.

 

“I have offered to host the meeting of the Gulf of Guinea in Yenagoa. When our waterways are safe, we can tap the tourism potential therein.

 

“We already have an agreement with an European consortium on deep sea fishing and ship building, an investment capable of providing more than 2,000 jobs.

 

“The roads we are constructing along the three corridors will take us to Brass, Agge in Ekeremor to develop a deep seaport and also link us to the ocean through Oporoma,” Diri said.

 

On environmental pollution and degradation, the governor said that the ongoing clean-up in Ogoniland by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) should be extended to the entire oil-rich Niger Delta area.

 

According to him, Bayelsa is worst affected by incidents of oil spills, leaving behind attendant devastated ecology and health issues.

 

“You are very familiar with our stories and the Niger Delta environment. We must commend what you started in Ogoni as then Minister of Environment.

 

“Our land, rivers are polluted. The remediation of the region must be total. Bayelsa is worst affected.”

 

Responding, Mohammed appreciated the pace of development in the state since its creation in 1996, adding that the UN was ready to deepen the existing relationship with the state to support ongoing development efforts by the current administration.

 

“A lot has happened in terms of infrastructure in Bayelsa State since its creation alongside my own state of Gombe. We are here to support nations, communities to grow.

 

“We are working with leaders like you to add value to the lives of the people and create opportunities for the young people to harness their potential.

 

“Here, we are working hard to realise those SDGs and make our society better,” she said.

 

Mohammed, who welcomed the state’s request for the hosting of the Gulf of Guinea meeting, said that the UN was disturbed at the level of environmental pollution in the oil-rich Niger Delta, a situation she described as “complete disaster”.

 

“It is not just about Ogoniland but the remediation should be for all oil-producing places.

 

“The means of livelihood of the people, fishing and farming, are greatly affected. The oil pollution is a complex thing and it is a complete disaster which requires urgent intervention.”

 

The Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija, accompanied the governor to the UN headquarters.

 

Others are Rep. Fred Agbedi, member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency in the National Assembly and Mrs Patience Abah, the Permanent Secretary, Bayelsa State Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investments and retired Major Lancelot Anyanya.

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