The Federal Government, on Monday, urged leaders of the Ogoni community and other relevant stakeholders to expedite action on the ongoing clean-up exercise in the area.
Minister of State for Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, said this at a stakeholders’ meeting and inspection tour of Ogoniland in Khana Local Government Area of River.
Ikeazor, while responding to some of the leaders, who spoke on behalf of the community, said that the commitment of the leaders and stakeholders would help in speeding up the implementation of the project.
While promising to address some of the concerns of the communities, she, however, called for their cooperation with the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) for the progress of the work.
The minister said that the meeting was aimed at interacting with all the communities making up Ogoniland.
“You have all expressed your concerns about the delay in the project. I appreciate the concern, but how can we work together and accelerate the programme?
“The only way is your cooperation with HYPREP; allow it HYPREP to employ the youths of the community as environmental surveillance officers.
“We want to work with women groups and the youth but we need your cooperation.
“We want more indigenous people to acquire skills for the clean-up project so that we will not be doing this over and over again,” she said.
Earlier, the Paramount Ruler of Tai Kingdom, King Godwin Gininwa, said that even though the HYPREP project was not for only the Ogoni people, Ogoniland should be considered first.
“Our land should be considered first in this project, even before other communities, because our people have suffered so much degradation,” he said.
Gininwa urged the Federal Government to work on the proposed University of Environment for Ogoniland in order to assist in educating the people of the community in particular and the state in general.
Also speaking, the President of Kagote, Bori, Mr Emmanuel Deeyah, said that the community needed to be involved in the implementation of the project so as to aid its effective implementation.
Deeeyah appreciated the minister for visiting the area, adding that this was a demonstration of the government’s concern about the wellbeing of the Ogoni people.
“I want you to know that we are happy and grateful for the visit. We are asking you to please do your possible best to ensure that the HYPREP project has the desired impact on the people of the area.
Meanwhile, during the inspection of the Ogoni clean-up sites, Ikeazor expressed satisfaction with the work done by the contractors.
“The last time we visited the site, the ground was not fertile; we instructed them to work on the land to ensure that it brings out green grasses.
“Today, I can see that the land is growing weeds. This means that the workers are really complying with the instructions given to them at that time.
“They should also put more effort to ensure that other areas grow grasses as well,” she said.