The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, says no fewer than 57 sites at Ogoni land in Rivers State are being cleaned up currently.
Abubakar made the disclosure while speaking with State House correspondents on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in Abuja, saying that he had presented a report on the ministry’s mandate to a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The virtual meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The Ogoni cleanup in the past has been a story. Finally, President Buhari came in 2016 and the contract was given out.
“We are currently cleaning 21 plus 36 sites in Ogoni land. All these are impacted areas with hydrocarbon — a very big project.
“The world is watching this project because of the nature of hydrocarbons and what they can cause to the environment and the people living there.’’
The minister said that planting of 25 million trees was also in the fore burner and that the ministry was collaborating with state governments on the project.
Abubakar said that the Federal Ministry of Environment is one of the implanting ministries of the 774,000 jobs approved by the president.
“So, those skilled and unskilled labours are coming through the ministry. About 200,000 people will be employed plus additional 2,000, who are going to be employed by the erosion department of the ministry.’’
He said that the ministry was also handling waste recycling, describing waste management as a big project.
Abubakar said that waste management entailed waste reduction, waste recycling, waste re-use and waste recovery, among others.
According to him, it is no longer fashionable to produce, use and dispose waste.
The minister said that his report to FEC also covered efforts being made on erosion control in the South East and the upper North areas of the country.
“We have two programmes on erosion control. One is being handled by the department in the Ministry of Environment, which is in charge of mostly conventional erosion.
“Then, we have the big one which is being sponsored by the World Bank and we call that Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project.
“The project deals with gully erosion — huge erosion that will gulp houses and you know South-East is prone to this type of erosion because of the geologic nature of the area.’’
On job creation, the minister said that the Ogoni cleanup had created 765 jobs, adding that more jobs would be created through the cleanup.
He said that a programme on training of 400 women in agriculture, aquaculture and poultry was also underway.
“We have the National Generator Emission Control Programme that will be coming on line.
“These are jobs that will be crated immediately after COVID-19,’’ said the minister.
By Chijioke Okoronkwo