billions set aside for Oil spillage clean up
From EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja,
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has called on Nigerian government and stakeholders to work together to ensure the successful cleanup of Ogoniland.
Executives from the UN body spoke in Port Harcourt on Thursday as government set in motion a $1 billion clean-up and restoration programme of the region in the Niger Delta.
UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner, said the people of Ogoniland had paid a high price for the success of Nigeria’s oil industry, enduring a toxic and polluted environment for decades.
“Today marks a historic step toward improving the situation of the Ogoni people, who have paid this high price for too long.”
Steiner said the clean-up and restoration effort could not happen overnight.
“I am hopeful that the cooperation between the Government of Nigeria, oil companies and communities will result in an environmental restoration that benefits both ecosystems and the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta.”
UNEP has provided the scientific basis for the work, and pledged to continue offering its technical expertise.
Erik Solheim, UNEP’s incoming Executive Director, said the task to clean up Ogoniland would neither be easy nor fast but it needed to be done.
Solheim has been UNEP’s Special Envoy to Ogoniland since 2003, supporting negotiations between the Ogoni people, government and oil companies.
If we succeed here, it will demonstrate that degraded environments can be restored, sending a signal to many other communities around the world that peaceful co-operation can lead to positive outcomes.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the government was now delivering on what was one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s key election promises.
The cleanup exercise will be based on recommendations from a 2011 UNEP report, commissioned by the Nigerian government, on the impact of oil extraction in Ogoniland.
The report found severe and widespread contamination of soil and ground water across the area, which is home to some 1,5 million people.
– CAJ News
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