Ogoni cleanup has been in the minds of many Nigerians, which has prompted Nigeria’s Environment Minister, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, to give an update on the current state of the land in the Niger Delta Region.
The Minister said the Government is witnessing a delay in delivering the project due to vandals destroying pipelines in the communities, among other insecurity issues.
Abubakar said this while briefing reporters on the recent significant environmental sector developments on Wednesday in Abuja.
He revealed that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has put in measures to contain further vandalism of pipelines in the region.
“Following the constant pipeline vandalism, the Government decided to engage the youths with jobs not to have the time to break the pipelines again.” He said.
Giving a track-record of events that panned out within the year the rehabilitation work commenced on Ogoniland, Abubakar said on August 4, 2011, exactly ten years today, United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, presented an environmental assessment report on the aspect of the project they were to clean up.
Meanwhile, in July 2012, as a follow-up action, the Federal Government came up with the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project, HYPREP, under the Ministry of Petroleum, to implement the UNEP Report; unfortunately, the Minister revealed that the project could not take off properly.
Again, around June 2016, Ogoniland cleanup was inaugurated by President Buhari, who was ably represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which means fulfilment of the 2015 election campaign manifesto of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
“After about two years of careful logistic arrangements, community contacts and technical preparations, the first phase of 21 cleanup and remediation contracts were rolled out and then followed by another set of 29 remediations and seven tier-2 assessment contracts in 2020.” He said.
The Minister added that the cleanup project had trained the youths for sustainable alternative livelihood and provided a Public Health Inventory, Environmental Surveillance and construction of Centre of Excellence for Environmental Studies/Remediation.
He said that the Government is also constructing HYPREP area offices in four Local Government Area Councils in Ogoniland. This will bring the project closer to the benefitting communities.
“We are in the process of engaging about 500 Ogoni youths across the four LGAs, as special community security agents for the project,” he said.
Initially, the Minister recalled that the Government’s cleanup committee in charge of the project was domiciled in the Ministry of Petroleum, a concept he described as a misplacement.
He corrected the supposed error by returning the committee to the Ministry of Environment when he assumed control of the federal asset.
The Government also decided to provide water to the communities, being one of the needs of the people.