President Muhammadu Buhari has given a directive that Ogoni communities be linked to the national grid to stimulate socio-economic development and to create cottage industries that will employ the youth of the area.
The Minister of Environment, Muhammad Hassan Abudulahi made the disclosure while on a one-day familiarisation visit to the four Ogoni local government headquarters at the weekend.
The Minister said that his visit was to see both the remediation and the provision of portable water to the people that have suffered pollution for decades and their ground water contaminated with benzene, according to the report by United Nation Environment Program (UNEP).
He expressed the desire of President Buhari that the clean up project must be taken to its logical conclusion, saying that connecting Ogoni land to the national grid is imperative for the sustainability of the water projects.
He maintained that the clean-up would henceforth be done according to the UNEP recommendation, and that he was happy that UNEP was part of the clean-up process, while promising the traditional institutions, the youth and women that there will be wide consultation in the area of contracts and employment.
Abullahi maintained that only competent and qualified contractors would be given job, however, local contractors will collaborate with those with expertise for transfer of knowledge.
The Minister has promised to put pressure on the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) to start remediation of the complex sites, while promising that all monies given to HYPREP will be audited and investigated.
Earlier at the office of HYPREP, the Project Coordinator Ferdinand Giadom had tasked the Minister on staff motivation and welfare, and that as all staff should put in extra one hour to meet the target.
In his presentation at the Palace of HRM, King Philip Osaro Obele, the Chairman of Eleme Local Government Council, Obari Ollormate JP thanked the minister for starting on a good note, especially on the issue of connecting Ogoni to national grid.
The Chairman promised the cooperation of Ogoni people with the new Minister.
The visit took the Minister of Environment to the Palace of HRM, King Godwin Giniwa, the Gneneme Tai Kingdom and the Chairman of Ogoni Traditional Rulers Council. The team also visited the Gberemrne Gokana, HRM King Festus Bagia. In Khana Local Government Area they met with King Monday Noryaa the 3rd.
Highlight of the event was the appeal by the Ogoni people that Ferdinand Giadom, the HYPREP Project Coordinator be given free hands since he has the wealth of knowledge, as well as presentation of gift items to the Minister.
Among those on the visit were the Senior Special Assistant to Mr. President, Ajuru Nganale; the Board of Trustees of HYPREP, members of the Governing Council, local government Chairman of Khana, Thomas Bariere, Friday Nbakponee of Tai, Confidence Dekoo of Gokana, scholars, chiefs, elders, students and women.