Elders of Ogoniland have accused the Federal Government of failing to follow the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme on the clean-up of Ogoniland.
The elders, who spoke under the aegis of the Ogoni Elders’ Forum, recalled that UNEP had directed that potable water be provided for the Ogoni people whose communities had been experiencing environmental degradation.
The Chairman of the forum, Senator Benett Birabii, said the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Programme had gone ahead to award contracts without considering some of the recommendations of UNEP.
Birabii said, “Based on credible information available to us that the current clean-up of Ogoniland is only, but a preliminary phase, intended to show that something is being done, we wonder why it (clean-up) is being prioritised over the emergency life-saving issue of provision of potable water”.
“UNEP had recommended that the provision of alternative safe drinking water to communities, among other measures be undertaken as a priority emergency measure before anything else.
“But our people are still condemned to drinking, bathing and fishing in heavily contaminated water. We wonder if the current exercise is not a classic case of putting the cart before the horse.”
Also, a former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Ledum Mitee, maintained that the funds that would be spent in drafting soldiers to Ogoniland could be expended on Ogoniland to also ensure security.
The Minister of Environment, Suleiman Hassan, handed over the polluted site in Alode community to the Earthpro Group and another in Obolo-Ebubu community to Basic Nigeria Technology Limited in the Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The minister promised that potable water would be provided for the people before the commencement of the exercise, adding that the handover marked the beginning of the end of Ogoni agitations and yearnings for a safer environment.