The Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, says the clean-up of Ogoni land is just the beginning of many clean-ups that the government will embark on in the Niger Delta region.
President Buhari will on Thursday, June 2, fulfil his campaign promise by launching the Ogoni clean-up project and Mrs Mohammed stated that how to keep the Niger Delta clean from further pollution after the clean-up is most important to the administration.
“Technologies are available, whether we are going to deal with the soil or the air and the gas flaring or we are going to be dealing with the water which is so contaminated.
“I think there is a broad knowledge of what is going to happen.” the Minister said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday.
Reacting to questions about the possibility of totally restoring the polluted areas in less time than the stipulated 25 years, the Minister noted that fixing the pollution cannot not be achieved in few years considering how long the damaging activities have been going on in the region.
“You’re not going to fix it in few years, no matter what technology you have. You have massive areas of land. Remember I said Ogoni is going to be our starting point, the rest of the Niger Delta is also polluted in heavy ways, perhaps even more so than Ogoni land.
“Even though there have been no production in the last 20 years there are still illegal activities that again refill the pollution.”
She gave the assurance that the Ministry would be deploying all available technologies and wealth of expertise from across the world and also from scientists in Nigeria universities towards achieving the targets.
Mrs Amina Mohammed also gave the assurance that the people of Ogoni will be an integral part of what the government hopes to achieve in their community.
She admitted that there has been “a lot of trust deficit between government and the communities” and also between the people and their leaders but the Ministry has been speaking to traditional rulers, women, youths and other stakeholders to make them understand the mission.
She stated that having visited Ogoni land several times since becoming a minister, they have been able to build a strong belief in President Buhari from the community dwellers.
“The integrity of our president is what people believe in that there is hope and something can happen,” she said, adding that there had been some scepticism but recent happenings have swayed them.
She mentioned the provision of clean water as one of the emergency response measures being put in place after the launch of the clean-up.
“The past administration put a lot of sign posts to say ‘don’t go here don’t go there because they are contaminated’ but I can tell you everybody is there because there is no alternative.
“So what is incumbent upon us is to say ‘don’t stop someone before you have that alternative’ and really the alternatives are possible, we have to treat this with urgency but we have to plan well,” she explained.
The Minister of Environment also urged the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups in the region to stop blowing up oil installations and embrace the path of dialogue with the federal government.
According to the Minister, the act of blowing up oil installations is not only criminal but its impact on the environment cannot be quantified.