By Vivian Emoni
Abuja – The Federal Government on Thursday reiterated its commitment to ensure that Ogoni-clean-up project was effectively implemented.
Dr Mohammad Abubakar, the Minister of Environment said this at a joint meeting of Governing Council and Board of Trustees (BoTs) in Abuja.
Abubakar, who was also the Chairman of the BoTs said that President Mohammadu Buhari was very passionate about the implementation of the project.
He said that the president was assuring Nigerians that the project would soon be a thing of the past.
He said that the governing council and the board of trustees were ready and committed to work in oneness to make sure the project delivered effectively.
“With the combination of the council and the BoTs we are going to ensure that the project is effectively implemented because I know and believe that all the members are committed and ready to give out the best from the project.
“Federal Government is fully committed to implementing the project and is conscious to make sure that the work is delivered at a good time.
“The project is not a small work and to make it deliver efficiently, all hand must be on desk and I call on all the stakeholders to join hands together so that we all will achieve the goal at a very good time,’’ he said.
Dr Godswill Akpabio, the Minister Niger Delta also commended the council and the BoTs for their commitment over the implementation of the project.
Akpabio said that the government was concerned about the livelihood of the community, adding that the joint meeting would proffered better solution to address the challenges the community was facing.
“The joint meeting will bring better opportunity to discuss and identify those issues the community is faced with to understand the better way to tackle the issues.
“We are not going to address only the clean-up of Ogoni land but other Niger Delta issues and challenges, and we will make sure that it is being handled effectively.’’
The Project Coordinator of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Mr Marvin Dekil said that 95 per cent of Ogonis were currently working in different capacities in the clean-up of 21 remediation sites in Ogoniland.
He also assured that the government was fully participating in the implementation of the project.
He said that 21 indigent Ogoni scientists had been trained abroad, adding that it was part of the plans to develop international level capacity.
Dekil said that the project had provided huge employment opportunities for youths of Ogoni, while business opportunities had also sprung up as a result of the ripple effect of activities in the communities.
He said that HYPREP had gone into partnership with the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources to provide water to more communities in Ogoniland.
“Also, Rivers State Ministry of Health on its part is to carry out assessment of all medical facilities in Ogoniland.
“While the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) are to provide training to Ogoni youths under the Sustainable Livelihood Programme.’’
He said that the UN was committed to support the implementation of the project adequately.
Mr Godwill Okpabi, a traditional leader of the Ogoni land also a member BoTs said that the community was being faced with huge challenge in the implementation of the project.
Okpabi said that the community had no access to clean water, adding that the community needed a comprehensive water supply.
“Water in the community is highly polluted; about 90 per cent of the problem is water issue. The problem faced by the community is not just about providing emergency water but comprehensive clean water.
“We need water directly from the water companies, the water our people are drinking is polluted, we need the government to do something urgently about it,’’ he said.
He said that the community needed adequate security, adding that the people were not safe in the area.
Okpabi said that the contractors were being paid adequately, adding that it was part of the challenge the community was facing.
“I am an indigene of the Ogoni, I live in my community so I know all that is happening in my community.
“When the contractors are not paid, they will not be able to pay the people working under them and those people will come to me asking for their money.
“I am appealing to the government to release adequate money to those contractors who are doing a good job in the implementation of the project,’’ he said.
Akpabi said that the issue of procurement was another challenge faced in the implementation of the project.