Nigeria: Reps to monitor Ogoni land clean-up

Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to declare Ogoni land an ecological disaster zone and invest resources, with a view to addressing the devastation in oil producing communities across the Niger Delta region.

The Senate is currently investigating the utilisation of the sum of $1 billion launched in 2016 by Federal Government on the Ogoni land clean up contract.

President Muhammadu Buhari had during the 2018 budget estimate presentation to the joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, November 7 (2017) reiterated his commitment to the clean up exercise.

He said: “We are working hard on the Ogoni Clean-up Project. During the year, we engaged eight international and local companies proposing different technologies for the mandate.

“To enable us select the best and most suitable technology for the remediation work, we asked each company to conduct Demonstration Clean-up Exercises in the four Local Government Areas of Ogoni Land.

“These demonstrations were recently concluded and the results are being studied by the Governing Council of the Ogoni Clean-up Project. Although the project will be funded by the International Oil Companies, we have made provision in the 2018 budget for the costs of oversight and governance, to ensure effective implementation,” Buhari said.

To ensure compliance with the resolution, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who presided over the plenary, mandated the joint Committee on Environment and Petroleum to follow up and monitor the implementation of the Ogoniland clean-up exercise.

In his lead debate, Chinda, chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts articulated the contamination of the region based on the report of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and lamented that several years after the programme’s report was forwarded to the government for action, the government has been reluctant in considering and adopting it.

He said the latest intervention by the government on the Niger Delta situation, with the announcement of Ogoniland clean up, was ‘cosmetic and mere window-dressing.’

He however called on the House to prevail on the government to urgently address the deplorable conditions in the Niger Delta.

While speaking, Onyemaechi Mrakpor (PDP-Delta), observed that the ‘one minute silence’ for Ken Saro-Wiwa, the late environmentalist, which was opposed by majority of the members, does not change the narrative that the pollution and infrastructural decay in Niger Delta have not abated.

“As I speak, those things Ken Saro-Wiwa stood for are still there. Have they been addressed? Today, there is no clean water to drink in Niger Delta. Environmental pollution is still there.

“I make bold to say that it’s not all about one minute silence. We should be concerned with enhancing the environment in the Niger Delta,” Mrakpor said.

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