BY GABRIEL OKECHUKWU, PORT HARCOURT
The Federal Government has pledged to expedite action on the livelihood aspect of Ogoni clean up exercise.
The Minister of State Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor who made this known while on stakeholders engagement at Bori Khana Local Government Area Rivers State, gave assurance that due process would be followed in the award of contracts.
The stakeholders’ engagement which was put together as a retrospective mechanism to assess the progress made so far in the Implementation of United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP report on Ogoni clean up, has a major objective, to chart a new course for a speedy process.
While addressing various concerns raised by participating groups that thronged Khana Local government Headquarters, venue of the meeting, the Minister of State Environment, Mrs. Ikeazo gave assurance that Women and youths of Ogoni will be considered in the five thousand skill acquisition scheme as part of the livelihood programme.
According to her, Ogoni youths will equality be engaged to provide surveillance at project sites.
She told them that establishment of Center for excellence will be a reality.
“It has been an eye opener for me, I have heard a lot. Before coming out here, I have held meetings with UNEP and SHELL to see how we can accelerate this project.”
“I am assuring you that we shall be bringing on stream other key recommendations and mandate of UNEP Report.”
“I have already mentioned that we are bringing on stream potable water.
Then another area is public Health inventory, this has to be done, this has to be concluded.”
Earlier in his presentation, the Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, Professor Philip Shekwolo, who said that six contractors were engaged for the ongoing water projects, revealed that more twelve contracts will be awarded for the provision of potable water for different Ogoni Communities .
Professor Shekwolo expressed delight that some of the sites earlier awarded has been remediated and certified by appropriate agencies.
“Basically we took off by mobilizing six contractors to supply water to six major communities with links to other communities.”
“We have two of these projects in Eleme, Ogale and Alesa Areas.”
“We have two in Gokana, ke-Dere area and Gbarako area; we also have one in Khana and we have one in Tai that covers Koro Koro and others.”
“She recently approved that we tender for twelve additional lots that will be coming on stream to ensure that water supply is key to getting the people to benefit”
In a remark, the President, Ogoni Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, King Godwin who called for the Establishment of University of Environment in Ogoni also made case for the employment of the youths.
The Monarch noted that the clean up exercise is for the people of Ogoni and there is need for them to benefit.
In his submission, former President of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, Mr. Ledum Mitee suggested that the livelihood programmes be made sustainable.
Mr. Mitee encouraged the youths to always look out for ventures that guarantee veritable future.
Dr. Bariere Thomas who spoke on behalf of the four Local Government Chairmen of Ogoni Land, raised the concern of re-pollution and decried complicity on the part of security
Dr. Thomas emphasized employment and skill acquisition for youths.
He promised that they will continue to provide enabling environment for a hitch free exercise.
There were presentations by other interest groups supporting the project.
High point of the event was clean up and water scheme sites visitation by the Minister.
It is hoped that with the stakeholders’ engagement, all interest groups will navigate towards a common goal of proper remediation of oil impacted sites in Ogoni land.