No fewer than 105 coastal communities in Bayelsa State may face extinction in the next 30 years, if nothing is done to halt the rampaging effects of ocean encroachment.
Prof. Ambily Etekpe of the Department of Political Science, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Amassoma, Bayelsa, gave the warning on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.
Etekpe spoke during the unveiling and public presentation of a book titled: “Oceanification: Environmental, Ecological and Socio-economic Impacts in Niger Delta.”
The book, written by the Second Vice-President of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Chief Nengi James, was unveiled at the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel Secretariat, Yenagoa.
Etekpe, who was Chairman of the occasion, stressed the urgent need for concerted efforts and campaigns towards creating awareness for ocean encroachment, saying that it needed national and international attention.
According to the don, oil exploration activities of some multinational oil companies have moved too deep into the sea, with their attendant negative impacts on the environment.
Etekpe said: “Desertification is equivalent to oceanification, but while nobody talks about oceanification, desertification is taking not only national but international interest.
“Oceanification has thus become very important because the effects of ocean encroachment in Bayelsa in particular and other states that are also very close to the ocean generally are more devastating than those of forest encroachment.
“Most of where we used to have towns and communities have been taken over by ocean and so, the towns and communities continue to shift and you find out that the extreme end of that shifting is another river.
“If something is not done, in the next 30 years, a lot of our towns and communities will be taken over by ocean.
“In Bayelsa, we have more than 500 communities and out of which 105, representing 46 per cent of our communities, live by the ocean and if they are disorganised or dislocated, where else can they go?” he queried.
In his remarks, the traditional ruler of Moko-ama Sangana community in Akassa, Brass Local Government Area, King Moses Theophilus, who formally unveiled the book, commended the author for the bold submission of the issues recorded.
He decried the affects of various exploration activities on coastal communities in the Niger Delta, expressing the hope that the menace would receive the attention of government and relevant agencies.
In his speech, the author said that he was inspired to write on the effects of ocean encroachment, following years of observation, studies and research on coastal communities across the Niger Delta zone.
According to him, the effects of ocean encroachment had become a major challenge to governments at all levels, saying that everything must be done to protect the affected areas.
He said: “The term oceanification is used to illustrate the encroachment of the ocean on both non-human and man’s existence.
“It is being instigated by the multinational oil and gas companies operating offshore of the region, and it is also linked with the aggressive activities of deforestation by companies and individuals,” he said.
By Shedrack Frank