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At COP28, Diri Seeks Global Attention For Coastal Erosion-ravaged Bayelsa Communities *Offers To Host Summit On River Conservation

Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, on Monday, took his campaign against the threats of ocean surge, coastal erosion, environmental pollution and their related impacts to the global stage.

Speaking during the United Nations Convention for Conserving River Deltas (UN-CCRD) unveiling session of the ongoing Climate Change Summit (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Governor Diri solicited global concerted efforts to address the effects of oceanification and climate change on Bayelsa coastal communities.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted him as saying that in the past few years, no fewer than 20 coastal communities in the state had almost been submerged or lost substantial amount of land to ocean surge and rising sea waters.

He said the communities include Agge, Akassa, Aghoro, Brass and Ekeni.

They also include Ezetu, Foropa, Koluama 1 & 2, Odioama and Okpoama among others.

According to the governor, “scientific reports from our experts indicate that between 1991 and 2018, the shorelines of Bayelsa, its neighbours, Rivers State and Akwa Ibom State, witnessed considerable retreat and erosion, with respective measurements of 81,532 metres, 17,519 metres and 8,590 metres. The rates of shoreline migration and erosion were recorded at 11.1 metres per year, 7.2 metres per year and 5.5 metres per year respectively

“In the context of erosion along the Nigerian coast, Bayelsa alone accounted for 66.6% of the erosion and shoreline retreat, while Rivers and Akwa Ibom contributed 14.43% and 10.63% respectively.”

Diri noted that climate change continues to “wreak unimaginable havoc” on the Niger Delta of Nigeria and on its environment, ecosystem, and human resources.

“Unlike other regions of planet Earth, our plight is confounded from both ends, creating a case of “double jeopardy.” We need little activism to restate that the world’s deltas and wetlands are increasingly facing extinction,” he said.

The Bayelsa helmsman called on leaders to devise effective short and long-term solutions such as “sustenance, shelter, alternative educational facilities for children, and the protection of vulnerable members of society, particularly the girl child.

“These endeavours will significantly contribute to addressing food insecurity, hunger, migration, and the associated settlements and conflicts.

“This is why we join in the “Deltas Unite” (campaign) to cry to the rest of the world to work with us to address this situation.”

He said the government of Bayelsa State will continue to support and give priority attention to all activities and programmes of Deltas Unite.

“In this vein, I would like to announce the readiness of our government to host the Inaugural International Summit of the Deltas in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria in 2024. This will enable our various experts, who by the way have done incredible work so far, to further interface and articulate our common positions on the pertinent issues.“