Monday, May 30, 2016 8:24 am
By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
As President Muhammadu Buhari, prepares to officially flag off the clean up of Ogoniland as part of his plan to implement the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, report, the minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, has expressed hope that the clean up will reduce crime and violence in the area.
Also, the Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, has said the commission is part of the Ogoni clean up process, due to its mandatory assignment to ensure development of every community in the Niger Delta region.
Mohammed, disclosed this while inspecting venue of the scheduled flag-off of implementation of the UNEP report by President Muhammadu Buhari, at Numuu-Tekuru Waterfront in Bodo City, Gokana local government area of Rivers State.
She stated that it was a coincidence that the Federal Government decided to flag off the clean up exercise at the same location where Buhari commissioned fish ponds for the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority (NDBDA) in 1984.
The minister said, “I think it is such a coincidence, I don’t imagine the President when he was making his promised remembered that this is going to happen at this appointed time, because this fish pond was working and he is the one that commissioned it; it was about livelihood in the midst of wealth. We take from this land and you see that it is gone.
“It is a tragedy but we are coming back again with that hope that we can return the ecosystem to what they were, livelihood to what they were and provide alternatives to the crimes that are going on now. I think it is a kind of blessing that comes along. President Buhari made a promise and is trying to deliver.”
Mohammed reiterated the commitment of the Buhari-administration to the actual implementation of the UNEP report in Ogoni land, in order to not only get back the livelihood of the people but bring in other industries into the area.
She said, “The first commitment is the concerted effort being made by the government to actually implement the UNEP report. There has been a lot of work being done by experts but more importantly, it involves the communities. That is one report that everyone owes and there are actions that ought to be investigated and ought to be implementation.
“So, that is the first commitment and that is what we are here to do on Thursday. Going beyond that, it is really to look at the overall picture of how you situate the clean up of Ogoniland, the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.
“So, when we talk about Nigeria and diversification of the economy, then, what will be the role of Niger Delta and Ogoniland? I think you can see here was actually what used to be a fish pond, how did we get it back to not just a small livelihood but a scale that you talk about other industries in agriculture and value chain if you like and see how you empower people.”
Also Semenitari said the commission has a commitment and a mandatory assignment to ensure that they are part of clean up process as long as it takes.
Semenitari said, “Development is a big issue for us and commission’s assignment is to ensure development of every community. One of the biggest issues for the commission is the matter of the environment, to the extent that it was actually the reason why the commission was created.
“It was created to ensure sustainable livelihood, cleaner environment, more sustainable environment in the region from where oil exploration occurs. Clearly, the commission has a commitment and a mandatory assignment to ensure that they are part of process as long as it takes.”