Several questions have trailed the ceremonial flag off. Is the government sincere about the exercise? Is there a budget for the clean up? When would the structures to oversee the clean up be set up? What roles would local people play in the exercise? Will this be another avenue for dispensing political patronage?
The optimism raised by the flag off of the implementation of the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland 24 days ago, might soon be replaced by cynicism. Many in Ogoni and around the world had reckoned that the June 2, 2016 ceremony was to be a major breakthrough in solving one of the most serious environmental crises humanity has faced. But the seeming inability of the Federal Government to constitute the governing council and board of trustees 24 days after is now fuelling a feeling of disappointment that the exercise was perhaps without altruistic motives.
This statement could not better be proven than in the events that occured in the run-up to the Rivers rerun elections. Just before the elections, Mrs Amina Mohammed Nigeria’s Minister of Environment visited Ogoni land twice in 10 days. She was in Ogoni land on the 4th and about the 14th of March.
I am at the Democratic National Convention this week, proud to represent New Hampshire as a Hillary Clinton delegate. The convention will be particularly meaningful to me because the party platform we will be adopting finally addresses the issue that brought me to the United States: environmental protection from corporate greed.
Last week end I was in the Niger Delta. As I drove up from the PH International Airport airport, Omagwa, towards Elele in my attempt to connect the East -West Road to head on to Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State, I was startled. First there was this long traffic back up and I was wondering what the matter was. Then I noticed that People were getting down from their buses and cars and moving forward with with their two hands raised.
“We, the Ogoni people, do not want another military installation on our soil. Widespread mayhem, massacre, and scenes of carnage were all too common in Ogoniland. Our iconic leaders, including Ken Saro Wiwa, were judicially lynched by the State.”
The Nigerian government has finally started the clean-up of oil-soaked Ogoniland after years of inaction. A billion dollars has been committed to what has been described as one of the world’s most wide-ranging and long-term oil clean-up exercises.
Millions of barrels of oil have been spilled in Nigeria’s Delta region. Tired of the abuse, Nigerians just blew up a pipeline and a platform in an attempt to rectify what politicians and courts have been slow to do. As a result of the deteriorating security situation, the Nigeria oil union announced that Shell and Chevron workers have been evacuated.
Recently, the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari was set to launch the cleanup of Ogoniland very soon. The minister made the announcement during her courtesy visit to the Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike, reiterating that Ogoniland would be the first place where the clean-up action would take off.