After Years Of Neglect, Ogoni Clean-up Takes Off

President Muhammadu Buhari will be in Rivers State today to flag off the implementation of the report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on the clean-up of Ogoniland.

The president’s visit to the state will be his first visit to any state in the South-South geopolitical zone since he was sworn into office on May 29, last year.

Speaking to newsmen about Buhari’ visit, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, acting managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), one of the agencies involved in the clean-up exercise, said the people of Ogoni supported the planned commencement of the exercise.

Semenitari said, “The good thing is that the people of Ogoni are already united behind this. Everyone in Ogoniland clearly wants this to happen and it is going to happen because there is a strong community commitment to it.

“What we need to do, all of us together, is to ensure better behaviour after now, to ensure that after all of this money has been spent, that we, ourselves keep our environment more sustainable, that we ourselves are not part of any further destructions.

“Keeping Ogoniland clean is the responsibility of everyone who lives, does business or is from here. It is not just about those who do business; it is about those who live here; it is about those who are from here; it is about those who visit here; it is about everyone who wants to live, work, play and do business.”

On his part, the traditional ruler of Tekuru village, venue of the flag-off, Chief Michael Kporogunu, expressed the hope that Buhari’s visit will sensitize the country about the situation in Ogoniland.

Kporogunu said, “I am very hopeful that this process is taking place and I am very hopeful that the president’s coming here will make the nation to wake up because when you really see the impact, you will see the reality of what is on ground.

“This is the greatest man-made disaster in the world – this capacity of oil spill. Nowhere in the world has that taken so long to attend to the clean-up. Yes, I’m hopeful. I won’t say I’m excited because this should have been done in 2008.”

Meanwhile, the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike had earlier banned the operations of motorcycles and tricycles in Gokana and Khana local government areas between 6am and 6pm, ahead of the president’s visit.

Wike, who stated this yesterday in a state-wide broadcast, said that the measure is aimed at maintaining security in the area during and after the president’s visit.

The governor said, “The security agencies have been directed to enforce this ban and ensure full compliance.

“Mr President’s visit to the state is both historic and significant. It is historic because it marks his first official visit to the state since assuming office as the president of this great nation. It is most significant because Mr President is not on a political mission but to kick-start the largest environmental clean-up in our nation’s history, for which Rivers people, and indeed the Niger Delta, will remain grateful.”

Wike, who appealed to Rivers people to be peaceful during the president’s visit.

“As I have noted earlier, Mr President is here as the father of the nation who cares about the environmental and developmental challenges that we face as one of his primary constituencies.

“Accordingly, his presence in Rivers State is not an occasion for political campaigns by anybody or political party. Rather, it is an occasion and an opportunity for us to demonstrate unity of purpose and our readiness to work together with Mr President to move Rivers State and the nation forward.”


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