Nigerian govt not serious about Ogoni clean-up– Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike addressing journalists on Sunday

The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has accused the federal government of not being serious about the clean-up of Ogoniland.

The government in June last year launched the project to clean up the heavily polluted Ogoniland, following a recommendation by the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, in 2011. But since then the project appeared to have stalled.

A statement on Monday by Mr. Wike’s media aide, Simeon Nwakaudu, quoted the governor as saying that “the Ogoni clean-up programme remains a political project aimed at attaining political mileage”.

Mr. Wike stated this in Port Harcourt when he received the Senate Committee on Environment which is in the state to investigate the progress made so far in the Ogoni clean-up project.

The Senate committee was led by its Chairperson, Oluremi Tinubu (APC/Lagos Central).

“The federal government is not serious about the clean-up of Ogoniland,” the governor told the Senate committee. “We are tired of telling our people that the project will start next year.

“Let it not be a political project. Look at the North-east, a commission was established and $1 billion released,” the governor said, adding that the devastation of Ogoniland has impoverished the people by destroying their farmlands and fishing waters.

Mr. Wike said it was regrettable that Rivers State has “no single motorable federal road” despite producing the wealth of the nation.

The chairperson of the Senate committee, Mrs. Tinubu, promised that her committee would do the much they could to draw attention to the environmental challenges the Ogoni people were facing.

“We are concerned about these issues,” she said. “We will use face masks when we get to the location. Face masks will draw attention to the message to the world on the essence of the clean-up.”

Some months ago, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, and other concerned organisations and individuals had decried the slow pace of the Ogoni clean-up project.

“As we speak, there has been no serious effort to manage the expectations of the Ogonis. While some believe that the clean-up process is a money-making venture, others are facing difficulties to pursue the clean-up process,” Godwin Ojo, Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, an environmental group, had said of the project.

“Authorities responsible for the clean-up should come up publicly, provide a template for the clean-up and a step by step blueprint on how it would progress.

“The media is even kept in the dark, for example, no one knows the effective date of the clean-up process, and this is not good enough to manage the people’s expectations. Not everyone is being carried along at the moment,” he said.

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Cletus Ukpong is PREMIUM TIMES’ assistant editor in charge of Nigeria’s South-South region. He is a graduate of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Twitter: @CletusUkpong

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