Former governor of Kwara State and Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Dr. Bukola Saraki
By Hammed Shittu
Former governor of Kwara State and Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has decried the delay in the implementation of the report of environmental issues in Ogoniland, Rivers State.
This, he said, led to the purported declaration of independence by some people in Ogoniland due to their long years of neglect.
Fielding questions from journalists in Ilorin Thursday on the state of the nation, Saraki said: “Nigerians should not give credibility to any group that gets up to declare independence just because government did not implement a report on its area.”
According to him, “there had been a delay in the implementation of the report of environmental issues in Ogoniland and that there are structural issues in the report that must be addressed so as to bring new lease of life to the people of the area.”
He said: “One is the immediate response, like finding alternative provision of water and sanitation, which are being addressed by the state governments involved. The second issue is the institutional issue like that of agencies which the UNEP said must be set up to ensure level of funding by agencies involved to take care of restoration and clean up.”
He also said the National Assembly had been waiting for three different bills to support the set up of agencies to take care of environmental issues in the area, adding that effective set up of projects in the areas would be difficult without the agencies and that Shell for instance, would not put down about $1 billion without the agencies in place.
Saraki also assured that the National Assembly would pass the bill as quick as possible.
The former governor, who said the Bill on the amendment of NESREA Bill, which he sponsored ,was going for second reading in the National Assembly, added that the Bill would address some of the environmental issues in the country, especially the one faced by Ogoniland.
Saraki said the bill would also address the future and give “real compensation, not bags of rice and blankets”, stressing that it would also stipulate penalties for spillage apart from cleaning up of spillage or damaged area.
“If there is no penalty, there won’t be pro active action by companies involved,” he said.
He, therefore, assured that mistakes of the past would be corrected once and for all with the passage of the NESREA amendment bill, while counting on the support of other members of the National Assembly for the passage.