Buhari reaffirms commitment to clean-up of Ogoni

FILE PHOTO: Ogoni environment has been terribly polluted by oil exploration activities

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya, reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme’s recommendations for the clean-up of Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta which have been damaged by crude oil spillage.

Speaking during a visit to the United Nations Office in the Kenyan capital, Mr. Buhari urged the United Nations to give more support for his administration’s efforts to clean up the region.

“When I came into office on 29th May 2015, one of the first tasks I carried out was to authorize the implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) for the clean-up of Ogoni land,” the president said.

“The devastation caused by oil spillage has destroyed many lives and livelihoods and is clearly one of the reasons why many people in that region lost faith in Government and resorted to the many criminal activities we are seeing in the region today.

“The action our government took to implement UNEP’s recommendations has given the indigenes of the region hope that there are better days ahead.

“Let me, therefore, express appreciation on behalf of the Government of Nigeria to UNEP and other development partners for their cooperation and support on this very delicate matter and also request for their continued support as we implement the recommendations and transform the fortunes of the region,” Mr. Buhari said.

The president applauded the outcome of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that held in Paris in December last year.

“The commitments agreed in Paris will clearly benefit Nigeria and many African nations adversely impacted by climate change. We therefore look forward to their fulfilment and implementation.

“As the UN Office in Nairobi gears up to host the 2nd session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) this year under the auspices of UNEP, I would like to take this opportunity to further pledge Nigeria’s commitment to this very worthy cause of having a safe, secure and clean planet,” he said.

President Buhari also said that with half of the world’s population now living in cities, world leaders must give greater attention to the challenges of rapid urbanisation.

“In our effort to promote the sustainable urbanization in Africa, the Federal Government of Nigeria funded and anchored the Africa Urban Agenda (AUA) programme in partnership with the UN-Habitat.

“The Programme aims to enhance engagements between state and non-state actors to build consensus around identified urban development priorities and amplify Africa’s voice at the global level towards HABITAT III.

“The Africa Urban Agenda will culminate in a major conference of African Ministers of Housing where numerous issues will be discussed.

“I am pleased to announce that this conference will be hosted by Nigeria in Abuja next month and I look forward to meeting and deliberating with you, and other stakeholders on this very important topic,” the president said.

The Resident Coordinator of United Nations Office, Sahle-Work Zewde, said that the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in a free and fair election last year demonstrated the commitment of Nigerians to democracy as a system of government.

She described Nigeria as a “crucial member of the UN, a vital partner and a major contributor to UN peace-keeping operations.”

Before leaving the United Nations Office, President Buhari undertook the symbolic planting of a tree, a tradition reserved for all visiting Heads of State and Government.

He also addressed the ongoing session of the “Mini-United Nations,” an annual event that brings children from all of the world’s regions together to draft, debate and pass resolutions on issues of current global interest.

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