FG Launches Ogoni Clean-Up Exercise

Ogoni-land-clean-up-launchThe federal government has formerly launched the clean-up of oil spills in Ogoni land, Rivers State, Nigeria, as recommended in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event, performed the launch on Thursday, June 2.

Just before delivering the President’s message to the people, Professor Osinbajo described the occasion as an historic one, not just in the lives of Ogoni people but also for the entire Niger Delta.

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He said that the clean-up of Ogoni land was not just a restoration of the environment but would be a restoration of families, the people’s wealth, health and everything that is good about the land.

He prayed that this would mark the beginning of real change in the land and in the future of the Ogonis.

“It is the day of victory”, he said, believing that it would be the beginning of many more good things.

Prominent Ogoni leaders also extolled the federal government for embarking on the programme which is scheduled to last for 30 years.

The Minister for the Environment, Ms Amina Mohammed, has reiterated the need for the people to support the exercise.

She said that the President having kept his promise to the Niger Delta people, cleaning up Ogoni land is now a collective responsibility of the government and the people.

The Federal Government had said that it is committed to restoring the ecosystem to what it used to be and as such restore the peoples’ source of livelihood.

Government says that it is not just committed to implementing the UNEP report but is going beyond that by taking steps to improve security, good governance and economy of the Niger Delta region.

 

President Buhari Cancels Trip To Ogoni Land

Ogoni land, President BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari’s scheduled one-day visit to Ogoni land, Rivers State, Nigeria for the flag-off of the Ogoni land clean up has been cancelled.

The President will now be represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the event.

No reason has been given for the cancellation.

The oil-producing Niger Delta has been hit by a wave of militant attacks in recent weeks.

President Muhammadu Buhari had been expected to launch the activities for the clean-up of the oil impacted Ogoni land on Thursday, June 2, 2016.

Ogoni land

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), at the request of the federal government, had conducted an independent assessment of the affected communities and made recommendations for remediation.

The UNEP report was accepted by many residents of the Ogoni community and government decided to use the report as a starting point in the clean-up process.

According to the UNEP report, there are over 200 oil-impacted locations across Ogoni land and the full environmental restoration of the community will take between 25 and 30 years.

Buhari Committed To Cleaning Ogoni Land – Environment Minister

Amina-Mohammed-Minister-of-environmentThe 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.

Ogoni land

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.NDDC

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.

Embrace Dialogue, Environment Minister Urges Niger Delta Avengers

Niger Delta Avengers, DialogueThe Minister of Environment Aisha Mohammed has 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.

“Today, over 60% of the pollution in the Niger Delta are third party breaks. It is criminal.

“This is not being done by people coming from the outside, this is being done by people doing this to themselves.

“This is not a short term wound, this is a very deep wound because when you open up oil to your environment, it takes decades to get that back.

“So its not just a question of what you do to the economy in the short term. If the economy fixes itself with the diversification, what have you done to your land? Young people need to understand.

“Please come to the table and dialogue, because the alternative that you have chosen is a wrong path for you, your future and your environment,” she said.

The Minister added that the current administration values the rule of law and would not condone criminality as it remained unacceptable for the militants to “go around risking other people’s lives”.

 

Ogoni Clean-Up Will Lead To More Niger Delta Clean-Ups – Environment Minister

Ogoni Clean-up, Niger DeltaThe 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.

New Belief

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.

El-Rufai Promises To Fulfil Campaign Promises

El-Rufai, Campaign PromisesGovernor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has assured citizens of the state that he would not renege in fulfilling all his electioneering campaign promises aimed at bringing development and giving a new lease of life to all residents of the state.

He gave the assurance that his administration’s restoration agenda of making the state great again remained on course.

In a state-wide broadcast to mark his one year in office, Governor El-Rufai explained that his administration since it came to power, has embarked on massive construction of urban and rural roads, introduced free education and free feeding of 1.2 million primary school pupils.

He has also renovated classrooms and hospitals, created jobs for the unemployed youths and fished out ghost workers in the civil service.

He also explained that in spite of the lean resources the state has been getting, coupled with the heavy debt burden it inherited, his administration has recruited over 2,000 secondary school teachers, and retrained those in service to improve their skills.

He said that he has also accelerated the completion of the Zaria Water project as well as rehabilitated 12 other water works across the state to improve water supply.

Governor El-Rufai, while explaining how his government cut the cost of governance and stopped distributing state resources to a vocal minority, urged the citizens of Kaduna State to join hands with his administration to move the state forward.

 

Jonathan Shocked Me In 2015, Buhari Tells Reporters

JonathanThe Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday told State House correspondents in Abuja that he was shocked when the former President, Goodluck Jonathan, called him before the 2015 Presidential election was concluded to concede defeat.

At a launch with the reporters, president Buhari again commended the former President for the decision which he said came as a surprise to him.

“Great Sense Of Patriotism”

“When he made that famous call at 4:45 pm and said ‘Good evening Mr. President, I have called to congratulate you and I concede defeat’, I was silent for quite a while because I was surprised and he said ‘did you hear me?’,”President Buhari said.


Dr Jonathan had called Mr Buhari to congratulate him on his victory, requesting that he should make out time to visit the Presidential Villa for talks on the transitional process.

Mr Buhari further said: “For someone who was a Deputy Governor, a Governor, a Vice President and a President for six years to concede that easily showed his great sense of patriotism”.

He also pointed out that the former President was a member of a party that was at the helms of affairs for 16 years.

“For him to still go ahead and concede was definitely not an easy decision.”

The President, however, described his experience in the villa during the hand over, as different from what he envisaged, maintaining that his administration did not meet any money on ground.

He also told the reporters that he would carefully work with the judiciary and the international community in the recovery of looted funds to ensure that all monies stolen by the past administration are fully recovered.

Nigerian Govt. Has Inherited A Heavy Baggage – Wole Soyinka

SoyinkaNobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka believes the Nigerian government inherited a burden that may take a while to lessen but it must sustain efforts at improving the economy.

This comes as Nigeria assesses the Buhari administration after one year in office.

He was speaking to Channels Television in Johannesburg where he is expected to speak at a public lecture entitled Politics, Culture and the New Africa.

“This administration has inherited a heavy baggage. While I am critical in some aspects of the priority, I think that to clear up the mess left by previous administrations is going to take quite a while especially in the sector of economy.

“So I don’t use words like optimism or pessimism, I’m just pragmatic. I look at what there is on the ground and of course wherever I can intervene, I do both privately and publicly,” he said.

Kole OmotosoRenowned Nigerian author and playwright, Professor Kole Omotoso, also said that the current administration has ticked a number of little things but there must be more effort to alleviate the sufferings of the people.

“We are going in the right direction but in the process, we need to do so many things. We need to look at not just the suffering of the people but the way people seem to indulge in bearing suffering.

“It is as if even if you try to solve the problem for them they will prefer to be suffering and smiling,” Prof. Omotoso said.

Recovered Assets Will Be Published Latest Thursday – Garba Shehu

Recovered Assets, Garba ShehuThe Presidency says President Muhammadu Buhari has not rescinded his decision to publish the amounts that have been recovered by his administration from those who had allegedly looted the nation’s treasury.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, May 30, a day after Nigeria marked its Democracy Day.

The conversation, ‘Assessing Buhari’s One Year In Office’ saw the President’s spokesman addressing several controversies generated by the President’s national broadcast on Sunday.

The President’s Democracy Day speech had been widely criticised because it failed to address the promise to publish the amounts of funds that have been recovered and from whom they were recovered since the anti-corruption campaign started.

The President had promised that the information would made public when his administration clocks one year but Mr Shehu said that “the President did not at any time say he was going to name names”.

Mr Shehu expressed surprise that the issue had generated so much negative reactions from Nigerians, explaining that the President did not cancel his decision to announce the seizures that have been made.

“What he (President) said was that the Minister of Information will be making a pronouncement on this and this is going to happen when work resumes from Tuesday.

“This is likely going to be out by Wednesday, or latest by Thursday. So nothing has changed from the position that there will be disclosure.

“The President has given authorisation that these assets that have been taken back from those who took from the treasury be put out there. So my view is that nothing is lost.”

Mr Shehu said that the directive by President is that “money on account” in the CBN should be disclosed. He explained that there were also many accounts that have been frozen by investigating agencies.

He named the Police, EFCC, ICPC and the Office of the National Security Adviser among those handling the matter, so the Presidency expects “that there will be a snapshot of where they stand with the ongoing investigation and the recoveries when that disclosure is made”.

One Year Lost

Mr Shehu disagreed with the view by some Nigerians that the Buhari administration had lost one year, as it has failed to achieve some of what it promised to achieve in the first year.

“The President had focus, he knew what to do from the beginning. He identified the problems of this country, putting the security of the country on top of the heap.

“He said repeatedly, ‘this country must be secured, there must be peace in this country for you to develop and manage it very well’.

“And I think that he has done for this country what others had failed to do for four to five years in which they had allowed problems like Boko Haram to fester.

“A street protest in Maiduguri had grown into a city-wide phenomenon, problem for neighbouring states and all of the Lake Chad, in fact a global phenomenon with the linkage to ISIS.

“President Buhari within one year is about to bring Boko Haram to a closure. This is massive,” he said.

Experts Consider Buhari’s One Year In Office And Pressing Issues

Buhari365DaysIt is one year since the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ousted the Peoples Democratic Party-led government and the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The APC during campaign made mouth-watering promises that focused on insecurity, corruption and the economy.

Critics have said that some policies of the current administration had brought with them, hardship on the people, but the government says they are some necessary change process that the nation has to go through for a restructuring of its foundation.

Increase in the price of petrol, unemployment increase, decline in the nations GDP, resurgent militant attacks on pipelines and other facilities in Niger Delta and attacks on communities by armed herdsmen are some of the issues starring Nigerians in the face just as the administration marks one year in office.

In the midst of these challenges, insecurity in the northeast, as a result of the activities of the Boko Haram sect, have been contained with the terrorists confined to Sambisa forest.

These issues and more were given a critical look by experts on a special edition of Sunday Politics.

Democracy Day: Sowunmi, Ekechi Differ On Buhari’s First Year In Office

#Buhari365Days, BuhariAs Nigeria marks Democracy Day on Sunday, May 29, mixed reactions have been trailing questions about the performance of the President over the last one year.

Speaking on a special coverage of 365 days of Buhari on Channels Television, former Director, Planning and Research for the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign organization, Dr. Toe Ekechi, described efforts being made by the President to save the nation from further plunging into socio-
economic problems as commendable.

He argued that rather than focus on the current challenges of hike in fuel price, naira depreciating and higher cost of living, Nigerians should consider the factors that brought the country to its current state.

“My opinion is that we were heading for a ship wreck – a colossal disaster but God in his infinite mercy, who never wanted Nigeria to be destroyed provided at the right time a captain that has managed to steer the ship off the course of a ship wreck trying to stabilise it.

“It is not very well fully stabilised, that is where we are now. So I will like to say, it could have been worse if we did not have Buhari.”

Meanwhile, former director of the Jonathan-Sambo Campaign Organization, Mr Segun Sowunmi, accused the APC-led federal government of making excuses and blaming past administrations for the challenges facing the nation.

“If they had not come to Nigerians with a huge promise that a whole lot of our people believed, all of these ‘it could have been ship wreck’ could have been tolerated.

“From the minute this government got in charge, they have only given us excuses,” Sowunmi said.

He recalled that when the PDP took over from the military in 1999, ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo did not give excuses about past military regimes but rather worked hard to revive the economy.

“What has happened in the last one year is that everything has gone bad,” he maintained.

Nigeria Committed To Democratic Principles, Buhari Assures Int’l Community 

Muhammadu Buhari, Democratic PrinciplesPresident Muhammadu Buhari has reassured the international community of Nigeria’s commitment to strengthening democratic principles and sustaining the fight against terrorism and violent crimes.

In a broadcast to mark his administration’s first year in office, President Buhari said that Nigeria is ready to sustain its partnership in combating cybercrimes, control of communicable diseases and protection of the environment.

The President particularly extended Nigeria’s appreciation to the international community, notably France, the U.S., UK and China for their quick response in helping to tackle the Ebola outbreak in the West African sub-region.