The Federal Ministry of Environment has assured the people of Ogoni that President Buhari remains committed to the clean-up of the oil-rich Ogoniland as recommended in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.
The Minister of Environment, Ms Amina Mohammed, said this after inspecting a clean-up demonstration site in Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, in the company of the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mrs Ibim Semenitari.
The Minister confirmed that the President would be in Ogoni on Thursday, June 2 to flag off the Ogoni clean-up programme as a demonstration of his commitment to the clean-up exercise.
She said that it was regrettable that President Buhari who had commissioned a flourishing fish pond in 1984 in Ogoniland would return to the community to see a fish pond that has been destroyed by oil pollution.
Sadly, she said that it was not just the fish pond that was destroyed but that the livelihood and wealth of a people were equally ruined.
She assured the Ogoni people that the President was coming to restore hope to them. She promised also that the Federal Government would restore the ecosystem to what it used to be and bring back the source of livelihood for the people.
She noted that her ministry is not just committed to implementing the UNEP report but would go beyond that to also look at the overall effort to revive the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC boss, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, expressed delight that the President was coming to Ogoni to demonstrate the importance he attached to the welfare of the people of the Niger Delta and Ogoni in particular.
She announced that development is a big issue for the NDDC and that the cleaning up of the Niger Delta environment is of utmost importance to the commission.
Mrs Semenitari noted that Ogoni people are united behind the efforts of the Federal Government to clean up their environment.
She stressed that the unity of the people would help in ensuring the sustainability of the project, emphasizing that the support of stakeholders was also critical for the success of the restoration programme.
One of the community leaders in Bodo, Mene Michael Porobunu, said that he was hopeful and excited that at last the polluted environment in Ogoni land would be cleaned up.
He lamented that the Ogoni people had to live with the pollution, which he described as “the greatest man-made disaster in this part of the world”.
The UNEP report which was released in 2011, advised the Nigerian authorities and multinational oil companies operating in Ogoniland to clean-up the pollution caused by decades of oil exploration activities in the area.
It stated that the environmental clean-up and restoration of Ogoni land could take between 25 and 30 years to achieve.