Why Ogoni cleanup project will outlive Buhari administration – FG

President Muhammadu Buhari

The federal government, Monday, said the ongoing remediation of Ogoniland would continue, and indeed, outlive the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, assuring of stronger institution being put in place towards the completion of the project.

The government, which hinted of the extremely commitment to immediate completion of the project, however, said the work would not be completed in the next 10 years.

The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, who spoke at a ministerial press briefing on environment sector and priority areas of her ministry in Abuja, Monday, disclosed that the total volume of contaminated soil to be remediated was 5,354,766 cubic meters over an area of about 314 acres.

“As of January 2022, bidding for additional 37 hydrocarbon impacted sites is in progress. The total volume of contaminated soil to be remediated is 5,354,766 cubic meters over an area of about 314 acres,” she said.

Responding to question on when the government would round off the cleanup of the Ogoniland, the minister who said there was no deadline said: “We are accelerating the implementation of Ogoni cleanup and all the recommendations of UNEP that was not carried out, like the Centre of Excellence and Remediation Centre, Water Project and Alternative Livelihood Status, are all being implemented to the letter.

“We are extremely committed, our administration is ending in a year and half but we are putting a stronger institution in place to make sure that the implementation of the Ogoni cleanup continues. It is not a project that can end in ten years. There are vast areas of pollution but we are sure it will be completed,” she said.

On what her ministry was doing to ensure the smooth cooperation between the federal government and the people of Ogoniland, the minister said: “We have stakeholders’ engagement where I go down to Ogoniland every quarter

to meet with the people in their local government communities and that is how it has been building trust between government and the people.

“We want to see a situation where the project would be taken over by the people and they will get the benefits of those projects.”

Explaining that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was still part of the system, Ikeazor said, “The ministry is accelerating the remediation project, expanding on the livelihood programme of the hydrocarbon impacted communities. Preliminary remediation activities had commenced in early 2018, and work is at various stages of the remediation processes, with successes despite delays encountered.”

Continuing, Ikeazor said: “Contracts for 21 lots were in 2019 awarded for remediation, covering 12 of the 65 listed sites in the UNEP Report; explaining that the lots covered an area of 276 acres.

“To date 18 of these lots have been completed and certified by NOSDRA. Three of the lots are currently undergoing certification process and one lot is still undergoing remediation.

According to Ikeazor, “The impacts of the remediation effort have produced remarkable employment and livelihood opportunities among Ogoni youths. So far, a total of 1,337 persons have been trained, employed, and earned income to support their livelihood, thereby enhancing local economy.”

Speaking on the livelihood support status of the project, the minister said alternative livelihood development for Ogoni youths, women and able men as well as physically challenged is also a key activity recommended in the UNEP report.

“Both artisanal refiners and other youths are entitled to be given the opportunity to develop and expand their existing skills or acquire new skill sets to build their capacity and empowerment,” she stated.

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