Six years after the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report on Ogoniland, the United Nations has appealed to the people to exercise patience with the Federal Government over the delay in the commencement of the implementation process.
The team of UN made the plea yesterday at a contaminated site in Kwawa community, Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, during a familiarisation visit.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo last year inaugurated committees that would facilitate the implementation.
The Resident Coordinator United Nations in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallou, who led the team, stated that the remediation process involved technical approaches that needed a lot of time to be achieved appropriately.
Kallou, who disclosed that it was his first visit to Niger Delta, noted that he was in the area to have firsthand information on the devastation and the level of work done.
He noted that work was on going in the implementation process and urged the people of the area to the give the Federal Government a chance to be able to deliver a better result.
Kallou said: “I am here today on a familiarsation visit on Ogoniland. I am here to have a better understanding on the impact of the oil spill and the progress that has been made in the implementation of the UNEP assessment of the devastation in the area.”
“There are two conclusions I want to draw in my visit. This is a very technical investment; it is not a rural type of investment where you are going to see houses built within a short period of time. My appeal is patience, to ensure that the required technical needs are met and to ensure that at the end of the cleanup it is properly done.”
“The beneficiary communities or the affected areas are looking up to what are the critical outputs of this investment, but the project is on. It needs to be given time to ensure that the technical aspect of the work is done properly.
“We need time to allow the experts on the ground to do the critical analysis that are required before an investment is done. My advice to the project coordinator to look at a diversified approach with a rural development focus within the project itself that can be delivered in a short term.”
The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, the body in charge of the remediation process, said it had commenced fully the training of graduates who would work to achieve the project.
The Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Malvin Dekil, said over 12 people from different environmental related courses were been trained in different skills of remediation.
He noted that there would be reassessment of impacted sites during the implementation proper as to capture the level of impact on the ground before a remediation plan is sketch for the area.
He said: “We will take every site and capture the current contamination profile before we design a remediation plan for that area. We a will address that technically.”
Wike appeals for urgent action
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has called on the leadership of the United Nations (UN) to prevail on the Federal Government to implement the clean-up of Ogoni-land, which was flagged off last year.
Speaking at the Government House, Port Harcourt yeesterday when he granted audience to the United Nations Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon, the governor regretted that nothing has so far been done on the Ogoni clean-up.
He said large scale environmental pollution in different parts of the state leads to environmental degradation, which negatively affects the sources of livelihood of the people.
He said the clean-up of Ogoni land should not be politicised, as it dwells directly on the development of the area.
The governor said: “Yesterday in the Senate, somebody said that the Federal Government has not done anything as far as Ogoni clean up is concerned. When we were saying it, they said we were playing politics. But now, it has dawned on them that nothing is being done. So, we urge you to intervene.
“Part of the problem we are having today is because of the lack of attention by the Federal Government when it has to do with Rivers State. We will provide you with Helicopter to see what we are talking about. Don’t only read it on papers. You will really pity us. “
Speaking further, Governor Wike said: “The Federal Government has taken our oil and our environment has been degraded. Nothing seems to be done.
“We urge you on your own part as the United Nations to impress on the Federal Government that this clean up is very serious. Let it not be a political issue. We should not play politics with the lives of the people.”