The federal government has called on the people of Ogoniland to remain peaceful and avoid taking actions capable of delaying the clean-up in oil impacted communities in the area.
Dr Marvin Dekil, the project coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in the federal ministry of environment, made the plea on Friday in Bori, Khana Local Government Area of Rivers.
Dekil spoke at a sensitisation and town hall meeting with stakeholders in the area, and reiterated the federal government’s commitment to the clean-up exercise, NAN reports. He said that peace was needed in the area to enable contractors to commence clean-up of decades-long oil spills in the area.
“Ogoni people will recall that HYPREP had in January presented and handed over the sites to contractors who were tasked to carry out the remediation works in the communities. Our meeting today would have been to inform the people of the level of work achieved by the contractors working in the communities.
“But, regrettably, we do not have any report to give. The reason is not far-fetched as restiveness affects people and activities in which the clean-up exercise is not an exception,” NAN quoted him saying.
He, however, said that remediation works had fully commenced in Eleme local Government Area with youths in the area engaged by the contractors. “In Eleme, contractors have mobilised to site; equipment is on ground and work has fully commenced in most of the sites. To this end, youths in these communities are engaged at different levels in each of the sites,” he said.
Dekil said that youth engagement and empowerment was a critical component of the clean-up project as recommended by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
He said that 15 Ogoni youths were recently trained on fabrication of cassava processing machines at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Onne, Rivers, while another 400 are at advanced stage to be trained in line with the UNEP recommendations.
“So, we are urging the youths of Ogoni to give peace a chance; support the clean-up project and take full advantage of the opportunities that the clean-up brings,” he said.
The chairman of Khana local government council, Lateh Loolo, noted that poverty and unemployment are among factors responsible for the restiveness in some parts of the area.
“We are confident that HYPREP will deliver on its mandate and we assure that we will give all the necessary support needed to ensure success of the project. We appeal that HYPREP initiates more developmental programmes for our people such as skills acquisition training as well as human capital development,” he added.
Ogoniland covers four local government areas including Eleme, Gokana, Khana and Tai. The contract for the clean-up is put at N3.039bn.