Minister of Environment, Mohammad Mahmoud Abubakar, promised to ensure a comprehensive clean-up of Ogoniland in the Niger Delta region.
The minister made the submission in Abuja on Friday, September 6, 2019 at the Joint Meeting of the Government Council (GC) and Board of Trustees of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in his remark after assuming the chairmanship position of the HYPREP Governing Council.
HYPREP is the project coordinating outfit established by the federal government under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Environment to carry out a comprehensive remediation of the polluted areas of Ogoniland in line with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
Managing Director, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), Osagie Okunbor, who was the Acting Chairman of HYPREP, while handing over the mantle of leadership to the minister, stated that he stepped into the chairmanship position to avoid administrative gap in the remediation project, after the dissolution of the previous federal executive council.
The minister, in his inaugural statement, reaffirmed his commitment to work in synergy with his counterpart Ministers of Petroleum Resources, Timipriye Silva, and that of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, who are both on the Governing Council, including other stakeholders to fast-track the remediation process of Ogoniland.
The minister stated that President Muhammad Buhari is very passionate about the Ogoniland clean-up.
“And from the brief I got, I want to assure you all that we will get maximum support from Mr President to fast track the remediation exercise,” he said.
Abubakar reiterated that, as an environmentalist himself, he is passionate about the Ogoni clean-up and has kept pace with the remediation process even before he was appointed a minister to oversee the sector.
He added: “The clean-up is about livelihoods and thus a comprehensive work needs to be done to ensure healthy living of the people of Ogoniland. This administration will do everything possible to restore livelihood in the affected areas so as to give the people a new lease of life.”
After taking a comprehensive view of the challenges affecting the Ogoni people in the polluted environment, the minister noted that the immediate challenge was to find a permanent sources of clean and portable water for the people because, according to him, water is the essential father in human survival and existence.
“One can go on hunger strike, but it is not possible to go on water strike,” he said.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, in his remarks, stated that it is under the President Buhari administration that the Ogoni people are having a new lease of life after over a decade of UNEP report. Akpabio reiterated that the project was launched by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, in 2016 and action started in 2017.
He said his ministry is committed to work with Ministry of Environment to deliver high quality remediation exercise and bring the hydrocarbon pollution to the barest minimum.
Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Marvin Dekil, said the meeting was meant to build on the previous successes recorded from the field to scientific exercise, buy-in from town hall meetings, collaborations with the River State Government and the Ogoni people.
Speaking further, Marvin said efforts are in place to ensure a proper remediation process and that they have the capacity to do it if the challenges of procurement process can be improved as it will help to provide potable drinking water on a sustainable level.