Abuja – The Federal Government says the pollution of Ogoniland via oil exploration is a tragedy that “should never have happened”.
The Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, said this when she featured on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
Mohammed, who was speaking on the expected clean-up of Ogoniland, explained that the exercise would begin in a couple weeks.
“I think that the expectations are very high. For many, many years, the people in Ogoni land have suffered and struggled to try to begin the implementation of the UNEP report.
“If you are living there, you would understand that this is a tragedy and it is something that should have never happened.
“So, it is urgent that we do something about it.
“However, if we want to begin a process of clean-up, what we put in place to ensure that it is sustainable and that we are clean after the clean-up, requires a lot of buy-in.
“It requires us to talk to communities, to key stakeholders to make sure that they are all on board so that once we launch, it is question of going along that road map, remembering that the clean-up in Ogoniland is going to take up 20 to 25 years.
“The damage there is considerable. It is not something that can be fixed overnight.
“So, that launch will take place in the next couple of weeks.’’
Speaking on the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the minister said that Nigeria was yet to ratify the document as there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed before the signing of the agreement.
• Cue in audio 2 (Mrs Mohammed on agreement)
“We believe in the climate change agreement, but we also know that we have a year to sign.
“We also know that there are many issues here (in Nigeria) that we ought to address before we go to sign and ratify an agreement externally.
“The change in the way this administration is approaching, we need to be in charge of our destiny.
“I think that this is something that we do not bring a prescription to Nigeria; we’d have discussions with key stakeholders and say that this is the implications.
“And the time frame that was given for us to do that was short and we felt that we needed to take a decision that we can do this in a much more inclusive way.
“And by the time we go back before the year is up, hopefully by September.
“That if we are signing and ratifying, then we are committed to a number of actions and investments, which will then yield results in our implementation.’’
NAN reports that 176 countries have so far ratified the agreement.
Amina disclosed that there would be a breakfast meeting among all key ministers and partners next to discuss the agreement.
She added that the meeting would examine what the country stood to benefit from agreement and chart way forward its implementation, if ratified.
“Next week, we will be having a breakfast meeting that will include all the key ministers and our partners so that we can look at what we got out of Paris.’’
According to her, the meetings will continue over the next six months to make sure that we can turn the intended national commitments into national commitments and implementation plan.
“This is important because we need buying in and we need to integrate it into our own national plan, it must not be something we take from outside.
“It needs to be an integral part of what is important to us. We have to be in the driving seat, determining our priority for climate change.’’
Mohammed said that the ministry was creating a new narrative in line with President Muhammadu Buhari change mantra. (NAN)