Reps oppose request to observe minute silence for Saro-Wiwa

By Ikenna Uwadileke
Abuja –  The House of Representatives on Tuesday kicked against a proposal by Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers) to observe a minute silence in honour of late environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, 22 years after he passed on.

Saro-Wiwa was killed alongside eight others by former military government on Nov. 10, 1995 for fighting for the rights of the Ogoni people.

The lawmakers said it would be inappropriate to grant Saro-Wiwa the honour, arguing that his execution was “duly considered and endorsed by government.”

The House, however, agreed that 22 years after, the environmental situation in the Niger Delta, where the late environmentalist canvassed for enhancement had not improved.

It also urged Federal Government to declare Ogoni land an ”Ecological Disaster Zone’’ and invest resources aimed at tackling the devastation in the area and the entire Niger Delta.

Rep. Benjamin Wayo (Benue-APC) said “while I agree that the environmental situation in Niger Delta is pitiable, we have to be careful in adopting the prayer in the motion, calling for one minute silence for the late environmentalist.

“Section 33 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution says every person has right to life. It is only permissible to be taken through constitutional means, just as it was done in this case.

“Therefore, it will be out of order to observe a minute silence for Saro-Wiwa under this circumstance.”

Similarly, Rep. Ali Madaki (Kano-APC) appealed to members to be cautious not to breach procedures regarding government’s pronouncements.

On the contrary, Rep. Onyemaechi Mrakpor (Delta-PDP) said that observing one minute silence for the late environmentalist or not would not change the narrative that the pollution and infrastructure decay in the Niger Delta region had not abated.

He said “the things Ken Saro-Wiwa stood for are still there as they have not been addressed.

“There is no clean water to drink in the Niger Delta and environmental pollution is still there.

“It is not all about one minute silence. We should be concerned about enhancing the environment in the Niger Delta region,” Mrakpor said.

Earlier in his lead debate, Chinda expressed concern about contamination in the region.

He said Federal Government was slow in the clean-up of the region, as recommended
in the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report forwarded to it in 2011. (NAN)

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