An NGO, the Health of
Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari, for approving action to fast-track the clean-up of devastated environment of Ogoni land in Rivers.
The NGO’s reaction is contained in a statement issued by its Communications Officer, Mr Oluwafunmilayo Oyatogun, and made available to the newsmen in Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that the president, on Wednesday gave approval to fast-track the clean-up as recommended by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
The statement, however, said that the implementation of the plan coming four year after was “unconscionable by all standards.’’
It also called for the renaming of the body saddled with the exercise from Hydrocarbons Pollution Restoration Project ((HYPREP) to “remediation’’ project.
According to the statement, the objective is to remediate the environment, not to restore pollution.
“HOMEF recommends that the name be changed to Hydrocarbons Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) or Hydrocarbons Clean-up Project (HYCUP).
“Better still, the body should be renamed as Ogoni Environment Restoration Agency as recommended by UNEP.
“If the idea is to pave way for an agency that serves the entire Niger Delta, the needful thing to do, while having a specific project for Ogoniland, would be to rename the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as Niger Delta Environment Restoration Commission.’’
The statement quoted Mr Nnimmo Bassey, the Director-General of HOMEF, as saying that there were rough edges that still required to be addressed for a smooth take off of the clean-up project.
“A significant aspect is the non-inclusion of at least one representative of civil society in the structures set up by the president.
“The role and deep stakes of civil society in the struggle for the clean-up of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta cannot be overlooked. Their inclusion is essential for oversight reason,’’ Bassey said.
He also commended the Federal Government for the $10 million for the exercise.
The director general, however, said Shell, the oil giant which it described as the “polluter’ should be made to pay the $1 billion estimated by UNEP as “a start sum without further prevarications.’’
“This laudable step of President Buhari should be followed with a commissioning of environmental audits on other devastated territories in the Niger Delta.
“These should be the starting point for an urgent and thorough auditing of the total state of the Nigerian environment, from the South to the North and from the East to the West,’’ he said.
Bassey also commended the Ogoni people for their consistent and dogged struggles in ensuring that their environment was cleaned up.
He said the exercise, coming 20 years after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni martyrs, who championed the struggle showed that their sacrifices were not in vain.
“President Buhari has a golden opportunity to fulfil his campaign promise to implement the UNEP report and should do so expeditiously,’’ the NGO said.
Youth Group Faults Protest Against HYPREP
Following the protest that rock the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP)last Monday by some youth groups in Ogoniland calling for the dissolution of the governing board of the agency,s more groups in the area said the call is not necessary, as it was aimed at querying the pedigree of the Project Cordinator, Prof Neniibarini Zabbey.
In an interview with journalists, the Bodo City Youth Federation led by Joseph Lenu and his executive members said they condems in strong terms the protest led by the President Generalof Ogoni Youth Federation, Mr. Lagborsi Yaamabaana.
Group further warned that the youths would not take it kindly with any groups or individuals that want to undermine the peace and security of Ogoni land at this critical time noting that the organiser of the said Protest should tender an apology to the project coordinator and the Ogoni youths.
Group Distances Self From HYPREP Protest
A concerned group under the auspices of Ogoni General Youth Assembly, has distanced itself from the protest organised by Mr. Legbosi Yaamabaana against the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) last Monday.
The President of the group, Comrade BarinekaTornwe in a statement said the Protest led by Yaamabaana was against the best interest of the Ogonis and would not yield any positive result.
According to him, Yaamabaana, a HYPREP contractor himself, would only be using the sweat and blood of Ogoni youths to push for more expensive contracts”, adding that the said youth leader “Yaamabaan is always on self-enrichment mode and never for the over-all good interest of the Ogoni youths”
Tornwe therefore enjoined all Ogoni youths to avoid him and rather support HYPREP to execute its core mandate of providing alternative source of livelihood to Ogonis through skills training for women and youths.
It would be recalled that recently, HYPREP concluded another training for 3,000 Ogoni youths and women in various empowernment skills, and pledged not to relent its effort in the interest of the people of Ogoni.
The president of the group, further alleged that “It is Yaamabaana’s plan to hijack the central youth training programme from HYPREP and run it a contractor”.
Tornwe however commended HYPREP for what it has done so far on the execution of its mandate, and appealed that it should stay focused on its assignment and not to allow treacherous persons to sway it into the wrong way.
Minister Tasks RSG On Open Defecation
The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof Joseph Terlummum Utsev has called on the Rivers State Government to fulfill it own agreement of ending open defecation by the year 2030.
Prof. Utsev stated this in Port Harcourt during a familiarisation tour to the Niger Delta Basin Authority (NDBA) facilities and projects in the State,
He said eradicating open defecation will improve hygiene, sanitation and health standard of the people.
The Minister explained that the visit was aimed at assessing infrastructure, programmes of the authority required to meet the agenda of President Bola Tinubu in ensuring a better society.
He said toilets must be constructed at motor parks with a view to enthroning hygiene.
“To end open defecation and enthrone hygiene, we need to construct toilets at the motor parks, hospitals, schools and public places to ensure the objective is achieved. So, the Rivers State Government needs to come on board.
“There is a need for us to build synergy between the three tiers of government to ensure that this is achieved.” he said.
The Minister also explained that access to potable water is part of the mandate of the Ministry, and assured that it will be delivered.
. “We are targeting about 500 hectares of land across the country under irrigation. We cannot succeed without completing all our dams that are under construction, ensuring we complete the projects.
“We will engage state governments in allocation of lands, while we provide water for irrigation, the government is supposed to give the Certificate of Occupancy to ensure that the land belongs to the farmers to avoid any issue with the farmers,” he said.
“The government is serious about improving the lives of Nigerians, ensuring food security, wealth creation and youth empowerment”
“Some projects that will drive this have been completed, while some are ongoing, we are determined to complete more projects and initiate new ones.”
It would be recalled that Nigeria currently sits at the top as far as open defecation was concerned.
The country took over from India.
It would also be noted that out of the 36 States in the country, only Jigawa State is open defecation free.
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