Former representative of the Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, has said that Ogoni must benefit from the on-going clean-up exercise of oil impacted sites in the area.
Abe, who disclosed this in a statement he personally signed and posted on his Facebook account, and made available to The Tide, with the title; “Hyprep: Ogoni People Deserve Clearer Explanation”, by his spokeperson, Parry Saroh Benson said it would amount to wasted efforts if the exercise had no lasting impact on the lives of the Ogoni people.
The Senator, who was reacting to a television interview granted by the Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil said: “A few days ago, I listened to the HYPREP Coordinator Dr. Marvin Dekil talking about the Ogoni clean-up and the benefits to the Ogoni community on a National Television. I was a bit worried and would like to request Dr. Dekil to give us some more information”.
“My greatest fear has always been that the one billion Dollars Ogoni Trust Fund will fall victim to the Nigerian factor. The money will be spent in the name of Ogoni with no lasting impact on the lives of the Ogoni people.
“That was why we came up with the idea of converting the Centre of Excellence to a university that will become a lasting legacy from the Trust Fund that will endure the passage of time.”
However, according to the former lawmaker, Dekil’s explanation during the program that each contract will provide a minimum of thirty-five local job opportunities raises more questions than answers.
“What is the nature of these thirty-five jobs Dr. Dekil talked about? Are they permanent placements? What level of employees are we talking about, and how long will they last, Abe questioned.
“While we must thank HYPREP for these opportunities, I think the most important question for the Ogoni people should be who are these contractors and what number of these contractors are local?
“If the contracts require skills that are not locally available what deliberate policy is HYPREP adopting to grow local participation and expand lasting opportunities for the Ogoni people and businesses in the land?
“To argue the way Dr. Dekil did that HYPREP has no obligation to develop Ogoni because the development of Ogoni is not part of its core mandate is to accept the unacceptable.
“It is unacceptable that HYPREP can superintend over the disbursement of one billion Dollars named OGONI TRUST FUND and it will not matter if the Ogoni people benefit from it, as long as there is remediation of impacted sites, because that is not the purpose of HYPREP. I reject that argument however sound the logic behind it”.
The former chairman, Senate Committee on FERMA at the 8th National Assembly stated that he is worried by the comments of Dr. Dekil’s position on the clean-up exercise because it means that the Ogoni people were prepared to accept the unacceptable.
The Ogoni, he said, because of its unique history in the Niger Delta is the first oil-producing and polluted community to benefit from this once in a lifetime opportunity, and there must be a lasting impact for the Ogoni people.
“If the HYPREP mandate does not provide for that then we must find creative ways to make it happen and we have the opportunity to do so now.
“President BuhariI has gone over and beyond the call of duty to make HYPREP real and ensure that it is funded, and our input and participation in the fund is respected. If we fail to serve our people the best we can with this opportunity, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
“We must also remember that poverty and insecurity are the underlying foundation behind the continued pollution of Ogoni land. In trying to clean-up without addressing these critical issues, HYPREP will merely be wasting the clean-up funds because if illegal bunkering activities continue in the area during or after the clean-up we will be back to square one, (i.e. stuck in a polluted environment full of poverty and human suffering).
Abe called on Ogoni people to be aware that if they should end up in the same spot after spending a billion Dollars history will be most unkind to them.
“I had stated from the beginning that I will not get involved in HYPREP so I can see clearly what goes on. I think the Ogoni people deserve a clearer explanation than the one we are getting thus far”, he added.
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
Bayelsa Assembly Committee on Environment To Curb Unlawful Sand Dredging Activities.
With various complaints and pettitions by communities impacted by the activities of illegal sand dredging and mining in the Bayelsa State, the state House of Assembly has organised a public hearing on a bill to regulate the operations of sand dredging to ensure that the environment is not adversely impacted on.
The bill tagged ” Regulation of Sand Dealing and Dredging Operations Bill 2019″ according to the House Committee on Environment is aimed at gathering inputs from experts, technocrats and the public in order to formulate a people-friendly bill that will serve the best interest of Bayelsans.
The House Committee Chairman on Environment and member representing Nembe Constituency one, Hon. Ebi Ben Ololo noted that the public hearing became necessary on the need to remediate the environment and tackle the challenges posed by sand dredging operations in the state.
” The importance of this bill cannot be overemphasized because it can save lives. You are aware a number of times so many communities and their representatives have sent pettitions to this House, specifically the Chairman House Committee on Environment as per the environmental degradation that has taken place as regards the illegal sand dealing and dredging activities in various communities all around the state”, he said.
“With those number of complains and pettitions we thought it wise to put up a bill to take care of those issues. Most important thing is that we all know that public hearing is a mechanism by which parliamentary Committees obtain information, deal with the information obtained and also exchange views with experts and the public so as to fine-tune whatever bill there is for the public hearing to come up with a top class bill that will be people- friendly and also save lives of the people in Bayelsa”, he added.
” Lots of suggestions, contributions, opinions and interactions have been made as regards this very important bill, like we have assured the representatives of the various groups that we will go back in our committee, look at those very important areas where they have suggested and also fine tune the bill. So that in no distant time we will come up with a very formidable bill that will stand the test of time. That the people will benefit from”, Ololo reassured.
He lauded participants for their insightful contributions and opinions during the public hearing, promising that the Committee would do justice to come up with a bill that would meet the expectations of Bayelsans.
In her contribution, House Chief Whip and member representing Yenagoa Constituency 2, Hon. Ebiowu Koku Obiyai lamented the deliberate connivance between communities and the sand dealers, warning that if nothing is done to regulate the activities of sand dredgers Bayelsa communities will be eroded away.
The House Whip also expressed concerns on the activities of companies carrying out dredging business near bridges and sued a delibrate efforts by all in order to save the bridges from collapse.
By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.
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