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.
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.
A certain poet once said that if you were alive and young during the French Revolution of 1789, the feeling you got was a feeling akin to having gone straight to heaven, without the trouble of having to die first. There was also a revolution in the Niger Delta in the early 90s; and that kind of French enthusiasm would have been our lot if things did not go as awry as they went eventually. Working hand in glove and marching as if to war with the, then, Mobile Police Force, MFP, of Nigeria, Shell BP unleashed such force and brutality on innocent and defenceless civilians who protested Shell insensitivity at the havoc that oil prospecting and exploration exacted on the yams and cassava farms and fish ponds in Uzere, Ozoro and Olomoro.
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.”
Five Years after the United Nations Environmental Programme turned in its report on polluted communities in Ogoniland, Adebiyi Adedapo reports that President Muhammadu Buhari will in a matter of weeks launch the clean-up project.