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Ogoni clean-up won’t be abandoned —Senate

By Daud Olatunji

THE Senate Committee on Environment has assured that the ongoing clean-up in Ogoni community in Rivers State would not be abandoned.

A member of the Senate Committee, Senator Magnus Abe, who represents Rivers South, stated this, yesterday,  at the sideline of the ongoing 11th National Council on Environment meeting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

He said the project was not being delayed as a result of fund but for some technical challenges, adding that the upper chamber was being briefed regularly on the efforts to make the project successful.

Ogoni land, polluted with oil spills

He, however, pleaded for understanding and cooperation of all stakeholders assuring that the National Assembly will provide proper oversight to make the project a success.

“People should be assured that the clean-up is on course and that we will provide serious oversight of it to see that it happens. We acknowledge the concerns of those who feel it is a bit slow. We assure them that it is on course and working because we are being briefed on the efforts that are being made. People want to see things happening immediately but people have to understand that there are frameworks, procedures and challenges of implementation of programmes of this scale, which has never be done before.

“If you are not patient and thorough, you could easily get overwhelmed by the whole thing because it is a multi-layer operation. It is something we have not done before, it is just a new thing. We are seeing how best we can make it happen, people have to be patient and give all the support they can.

“I don’t think money is the factor at this point because so far, the money that is available has not been fully utilised. There are challenges in trying to put the whole thing together and we are working on those challenges. We should be a bit patient and supportive in order to get the best out of the exercise,” he said.

Earlier in his opening address, the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman, called for involvement of the private sector in the implementation of UNEP report on the clean-up.

The call, according to Usman, became imperative in order to bring all stakeholders on board in the execution of the project.

The Minister said the project is being implemented through the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project.

According to him, clean-up of lead contaminated sites in Shikira, Niger State and the soon to be launched Green Bonds programme, will begin in earnest.

Also speaking, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, said the state, as the industrial capital of Nigeria, has put in place measures to ensure friendly and safe environment.

He disclosed that his administration had embarked on tree planting project on 50 hectares of land, to combat deforestation. He urged the council to use the meeting to orientate, educate and inform the people on the need to imbibe the culture of reforestation and desisting from habits that are detrimental to a safe environment.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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