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Buhari to launch Ogoniland clean-up – Minister

Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari is set to launch the clean-up of Ogoniland in the coming weeks, says the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed.

The minister announced this when she paid a courtesy visit to Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers.

“It is hoped that we will have this launch in the coming weeks and the president himself will launch the clean-up.

“It is really to us a turning point in the history of the struggle. Ogoniland is the first place where actions need to be – clean-up.

“There is a wide challenge of pollution in the Niger Delta. We are here to begin activities toward the launch of the cleanup with stakeholders’ dialogue.

“We are beginning in Rivers because this is the home of the struggle but we know it is wider,’’ she said.

The minister said the clean-up of the Ogoniland would span between 25 and 30 years.

However, Wike advised the Federal Government that to achieve success, the clean-up must not be politicised as there were diverse interests.

The governor urged the Federal Government to be careful not to bring politics into the clean-up in order to achieve success.

“It doesn’t matter the political party that anybody belongs to, environmental issue does not affect a political party; it affects the entire state and the entire Niger Delta as a whole.

“Communities do not know about political parties, what communities know is about how to survive.

“And so, I will advise that we approach it in such way that it does not look political, particularly in Ogoniland, it is a very complex place; you have to be extremely careful.

“Because if you are not careful you may not achieve what you intend to achieve,’’ the governor warned.

According to him, there are political undertones to most of what happens hence it was very difficult for the former government to do what they were supposed to do.

Mr. Wike assured the minister that the state government would give all the necessary support to ensure the success of the clean-up, adding no government would be happy to see Ogoniland in its present state.

He said he was interested in whatever affects Rivers and the entire Niger Delta that had to do environmental pollution and other issues.

Mr. Wike said the environmental degradation in the entire Niger Delta and more in particular in Ogoni area has been a major concern to all.

According to him, it partly has to do with oil exploration that has left so many communities not to have potable water.

“We have problem with the multinational who would not immediately try to clean up when pollution happens.

“Unfortunately, there is this divide and rule tactics that most multinational would always want to adopt and unfortunately too, our communities fall into such trap,’’ he said.

President Buhari in August 2015 approved several actions to fast-track the long delayed implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme report on the environmental restoration of Ogoniland.

He also approved the composition of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) Board to reflect a new governance framework, comprising a Governing Council, a Board of Trustees and Project Management. (NAN)

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