Communities sabotaging FG’s clean up Ogoniland – MOSOP President
Communities sabotaging FG’s clean up Ogoniland – MOSOP President
Thursday, December 5, 2019 6:34 am
… illegal oil bunkering greatest threat to clean up of Ogoniland
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Dr Legborsi Pyagbara, has expressed regrets that at the time the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari accepted to clean-up Ogoniland as recommended by the report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), communities in the are supporting activities oil thieves.
“The communities are in full support of their children engaging in such acts. Before now, we thought it was only women that were supporting the artisanal refining, but we have realized that men are in full support.
“Few months ago, I held a meeting with people of the communities were these illegal activities are high. To my greatest surprise, they told me that if their children stop the artisanal refining, where will the children get money to feed them?”
He lamented that the illegal oil bunkering activities in Ogoniland is the greatest threat to the success of the ongoing clean-up of the area.
MOSOP President, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, disclosed this on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, while speaking at a symposium organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Rivers State, on the topic “UNEP Report: Assessing Stakeholders Compliance in Ogoni clean up” as part of activities marking the 2019 Correspondents’ Week.
Pyagbara lamented that the number of impacted sites in Ogoniland has increased more than it was three years ago due to illegal oil bunkering in Ogoni communities.
He said: “Artisanal refining, which we call ‘kpofire’ or illegal bunkering is the greatest challenge facing the ongoing clean of Ogoni. It will be impossible for the clean-up exercise to be successful when kpofire business is going on.
He pleaded for the support of the Media because due to the activities of the illegal bunkerers, the number of impacted sites in Ogoni has increased from the number that it had three years ago.
The MOSOP President stated that the people of Ogoni ethnic nationality wholeheartedly accepted the clean-up exercise as recommended in the report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) because it has to do with their environment.
“On post-assessment stage of the clean up, MOSOP has played the roles given to it by the UNEP report. We had a challenge convincing the people that money will not be shared because UNEP report did not recommend payment of compensation to impacted communities.”
Also speaking at the event, former Vice Chancellor of Rivers State University, Professor Barinua Fakae, sad it is regrettable that nothing seems to be done to save the environment will destruction.
Fakae said: “The environment belongs to all of us. That we stay and don’t do anything about the environment is very sad. While we may survive the current realities, our children will suffer it.”
He stated that when the people of Ogoni started their agitation for remediation of their polluted environment, a lot of people saw them as noisemakers, pointing out that today, the United Nations has rated the UNEP report on Ogoni as the best report so far.
The former Vice Chancellor said: “Ogoni people agitated that their environment was being impacted on, but some people saw the agitation as noise-making. It was a necessary noise-making.
“The United Nations Report on Ogoni was recorded by the United Nations as the best report on environmental assessment.”
On his part, Vice President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Chief Chika Onuegbu, expressed regrets that the Federal Government only remembers about Ogoni Clean-Up whenever election is around the corner.
Onuegbu said: “The government remembers about Ogoni clean-up each time election is approaching. You will not hear anything about Ogoni clean up until electioneering period comes. You will see the Minister of Environment going to Ogoni frequently.
“You will see several groups and teams going to meet with Ogoni people and Ogoni will be in the news just because of election. Immediately after elections, you won’t hear anything again.”
He said time has come for the people of Niger Delta to rise to fight for themselves, saying that if they don’t fight for themselves, nobody can fight for them.
“The environmental degradation in the Niger Delta is one of the several neglects on the people of the region. We don’t have roads. This is the same Niger Delta that produced the nation’s wealth.
“The roads in the Niger Delta are not working, we have only one airport. It is only Air Peace that goes to Calabar Airport once or twice a week. The Asaba Airport and Uyo Airport were built by the state governments. We only have the Port Harcourt Airport. Our seaports are not working.
“Niger Delta is the only region that has resources, yet it is ignored by our government. Our politicians have also abandoned us and relocated to Abuja. Businesses are leaving us because they believe that the place is not conducive for business.”
In his remarks, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Rivers State, Stanley Job Stanley, decried the prevalence of soot in the environment and urged journalists to take the campaign against environmental degradation as a point of responsibility.
Stanley commended the leadership of the Correspondents’ Chapel of NUJ for organizing the symposium, describing the topic of the symposium, which is: “UNEP Report: Assessing Stakeholders’ Compliance In Ogoni Clean up” as apt.
He said: “In this part of the world, people are passing through a lot of difficulties due to the pollution of our environment. Every morning when you wake up, you will observe black substances around you. You can imagine the damages these soot has cause to our systems.
“Mostly affected by this soot are the children because the adults have stronger immune system. Only God knows what our children will face tomorrow. It is only God that can save us.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of Correspondents’ Chapel, Chief Ernest Chinwo, said journalists want to know what has happened several years after the release of the UNEP report.
Chinwo said: “We have heard issues, people complained and we have seen with our eyes. There is soot everywhere in Port Harcourt. Our environment is fast going and nothing concrete appears to have been done to tackle these challenges.
“We know that there are other parts of the Niger Delta environment that have been impacted, but the Ogoni environment remains one of those that cannot be overlooked. Several years after the release of the UNEP report, what has the government done? What has the relevant stakeholders done? Let us as journalists start asking questions.”