Uyo - The Environmental Management Association of Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation, has urged oil companies and the Federal Government to evolve programmes of restoring ``health’’ to the polluted Niger Delta environment.
The Secretary of the association in Akwa Ibom, Mr Ubong Harrison, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Uyo.
Harrison said that activities of oil companies in the Niger Delta region had grave consequences on the environment.
According to him, an estimated 10 per cent of Nigerian mangrove ecosystems, with more than 85 per cent in the region, have been wiped out either by settlements or by oil.
"Oil spills wipe out crops and aqua-culture through contamination of groundwater and soil.
"Drinking water is also contaminated and deposit of oil is visible in many localised bodies of water,” he said.
He claimed that he was yet to see conscious programmes of environmental rejuvenation carried out in the oil-bearing communities in the region.
According to him, even the proposed Ogoni Clean Up programme in Rivers has been marred by controversy and politics.
Harrison said that most oil-bearing communities were experiencing acid rain due to air pollution caused by gas flaring.
The secretary noted that acid rain was destructive to plants and animals and corroded roof of houses and other exposed metallic structures.
"While international community, the Nigerian Government and the oil corporations seem to agree that gas flaring needs to be curtailed, efforts to do so have been slow and largely ineffective,” he said.
He called for an action plan aimed at regenerating the lost ecosystem in each oil-bearing community.
Harrison said that the Niger Delta environment was under threat as gas flaring discharged potential poisonous chemicals into the air.
He argued that the preservation of the Niger Delta environment was imperative if the country was concerned about preventing future disaster.