President Muhammadu Buhari is set to launch the cleanup of Ogoniland in the coming weeks, says the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed.
The minister announced this when she paid a courtesy visit to Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers.
“It is hoped that we will have this launch in the coming weeks and the president himself will launch the cleanup.It is really to us a turning point in the history of the struggle. Ogoniland is the first place where actions (cleanup) need to be.”
“There is a wide challenge of pollution in the Niger Delta. We are here to begin activities toward the launch of the cleanup with stakeholders’ dialogue.We are beginning in Rivers because this is the home of the struggle but we know it is wider,’’ she said.
The minister said that the cleanup of the Ogoniland would span between 25 and 30 years.
Responding, Wike advised the Federal Government that to achieve success, the cleanup must not be politicised as there were diverse interests.
The governor urged the Federal Government to avoid bringing politics into the exercise so as to achieve success.
“It doesn’t matter the political party that anybody belongs to, environmental issue does not affect a political party; it affects the entire state and the entire Niger Delta as a whole.Communities do not know about political parties, what communities know is about how to survive.”
“And so, I will advice that we approach it in such a way that it does not look political, particularly in Ogoniland; it is a very complex place and you have to be extremely careful.Because if you are not careful, you may not achieve what you want you intend to achieve,’’ the governor said.
According to him, there are political undertones to most of the things that are happening in the area hence, it was very difficult for the former governments to do what they were supposed to do.
He advised that all stakeholders must be brought on board for the exercise to succeed.
Wike assured the minister that the state government would give all the necessary support to ensure the success of the cleanup, adding no government would be happy to see Ogoniland in its present state.
He said he was interested in whatever affects Rivers and the entire Niger Delta that had to do environmental pollution and other issues.
Wike said the environmental degradation in the entire Niger Delta and more in particular in Ogoni area has been a major concern to all.
According to him, it partly has to do with oil exploration that has left so many communities not to have potable water.
“So many communities who are farmers can no longer go to farm; communities who dwell on fishing can no longer fish because of oil pollution.We have problem with the multinationals that would not immediately try to clean up when pollution occurs.”
“Unfortunately, there is this divide and rule tactics that most multinational would always want to adopt and unfortunately too, our communities fall into such trap,’’ he said.
It will be recalled that President Buhari in August 2015 approved several actions to fast-track the long delayed implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme report on the environmental restoration of Ogoniland.
Buhari also approved the composition of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) Board to reflect a new governance framework, comprising a Governing Council, a Board of Trustees and Project Management