Clean-up of Ogoniland Begins
The Nigrian Federal Government announced yesteday that it has commenced the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on the clean-up of Ogoniland, damaged by years of oil exploration.
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, made this known at a press briefing held by the Minister of Environment, Hadiza Mailafiya, who led a team to present her ministry’s policy thrust for the 2013 budget and the implementation of the 2012 budget to President Goodluck Jonathan.
The United Nations welcomed the decision to clean up Ogoniland, a year after UNEP submitted a scientific assessment of oil pollution in the community to the government.
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was with Mailafiya at Monday’s briefing at the State House, said in addition to implementing the recommendations of the UNEP report, HYPREP would also investigate, evaluate and establish other hydrocarbon impacted sites and make appropriate recommendations.
“With the establishment of this project, it is expected that all stakeholders, especially the impacted communities, will cooperate fully with government and grant unfettered access to all impacted sites to ensure complete success.
“We are making enormous efforts, I agree that the presentation was made last year, but you recall that just after the presentation of the UNEP report, the country fell into some kind of unrest due to the fuel subsidy issue.
“For quite a number of weeks, all of us were not doing what we should have been doing at that time. But it is not true that government is not doing anything,” Alison-Madueke said.
She said the UNEP report recommended the provision of potable or alternative sources of water supply, marking out the wells that were too polluted and undertaking other strategic framework activities that needed to be in place before its implementation.
She acknowledged that with the assistance of the Rivers State Government and the National Oil Spill Remediation Agency (NOSRA), some of the tasks had been accomplished.
“A place where pollution has taken place for a very long time requires a very formidable approach and we have been working on it through the petroleum ministry.
“I am glad to inform you that everything is in place and that we are just waiting for the execution.
“I want to debunk the statement that nothing has been done. Perhaps you on the other side are waiting just to see us on the ground. If you go there, you will find out what groups of people have been doing depending on the nature of what they have to do.
“It is not a situation where you just take officers and equipment and drive into a system and say I am going to clean up, it is beyond sweeping. It is the whole task of trying to re-mediate a place that has been polluted for decades,” Alison-Madueke said.
The UN, in a statement Monday, lauded the government’s bid to clean up Ogoniland.
“On the anniversary of the Ogoniland assessment there are now clear and encouraging signals that the government is keen to move on the recommendations – this is a welcome development for the people and the environment of this region who have suffered, and continue to suffer, the legacy of some 50 years of unsustainable oil exploration and production,” UNEP’s Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said in the statement.
The Minister of Environment, Hajiya Hadiza Mailafia,said “The UNEP report highlighted some immediate issues that needed to be addressed; finding potable or alternative supplies of drinking water, such as marking out the wells that were too polluted and doing other strategic framework activities that needed to be in place before the implementation.
“A place where pollution has taken place for a very long time, requires a very formidable approach and we have been working on it through the petroleum ministry. Am glad to inform you that everything is put in place and that we are just waiting for the execution”.