FG Vows to Ensure Sustained Approach to Ogoni Clean-up

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

In a bid to revamp the Ogoni clean-up initiative, the federal government led by President Bola Tinubu has vowed to embark on more effective and sustainable approach to the environmental remediation and community empowerment in Ogoniland.

This is as the presidency has launched a new community engagement approach, titled “Na My Area, Na My Country” which aims to promote patriotism, community ownership, and active governance in host communities and oil spill sites.

The Senior Special Assistant to President Tinubu on Community Engagement, South-South, Gift Johnbull, said the aim of the engagement was to ensure that all stakeholders are carried along in the process of the clean-up exercise.

Speaking at a roundtable with stakeholders, held at Bori, Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, Johnbull emphasised the need for collective effort and transparency in achieving environmental remediation and empowerment for the Ogoni people and the South-south region.

The meeting brought together stakeholders from government, oil companies, civil society organisations, community leaders, and other stakeholders to discuss and evaluate significant empowerment initiatives and environmental remediation efforts.

She said Tinubu’s commitment to community engagement and robust governance frameworks was expected to drive real change and unlock the potential of Ogoniland.

According to the presidency, the new approach priorities environmental sustainability, economic empowerment, and community wellbeing, marking a shift from superficial solutions to lasting impact.

Addressing the stakeholders, Johnbull said the president was determined to ensure that there is improved life and livelihoods in Ogoni while the clean-up is ongoing, stressing that the engagements will unravel loopholes that may need to be fixed for the success of the remediation project in the area.

“As directed by President Bola Tinubu, further consultations and engagements will be done to ensure all stakeholders are carried along in this prosperous journey of improving the life and livelihood of every Ogoni sons and daughters under the Renewed Hope Agenda.

“Our primary focus here today is on inclusion and collaboration as mandated by the President. We are here to discuss and evaluate significant empowerment initiative, such as environmental remediation and all forms of livelihood movements which will have a lasting impact on the lives of the Ogoni people,” she said.

Noting that the Ogoni clean-up was launched in 2016, she stated that it marked the significant step towards acknowledging and addressing ecological issue.

“As recommended by the president, it is crucial that we come together as diverse stakeholders, each bringing a unique perspective, expertise and resources to collaborate in ensuring that the purpose of the Ogoni clean-up is fully actualised,” she noted.

Johnbull explained that “It is a platform for genuine dialogue and catalyst for change, we must look beyond mere promises, our focus must be on empowerment, environmental remediation and fostering the mindset of responsibility and ownership amongst all stakeholders.

“We will address the challenges and bottlenecks that may have hindered or slow down progress. The President has established robust government frameworks and accountability mechanism to ensure transparency, effective report allocations and meaningful community involvement on the cleanup process”.

She urged the stakeholders to collaborate to unlock the human and natural resources potential of Ogoniland while ensuring the environmental, economic security of the South-South communities and  Nigeria
In his remarks, the Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Prof Nenibarini Zabbey said since he assumed office in 2023 till date, the project had been taken seriously, adding that it had accelerated the process of cleaning Ogoni.

Zabbey disclosed that based on the mandate, HYPREP had taken seriously the issue of remediation of portable water, livelihood, creating opportunities to the people, especially the youth and women of the Ogoni, adding that they are also strengthening health sector.

“For land remediation, at this stage we are dealing with the complex sites: those are sites that both land and ground waters are contaminated but they are far from the residential areas. There are 39 lots (contractors) handling those sites.

“HYPREP has remediated 50 lots of simple sites. In those sites, only soil are contaminated. NOSDRA has given us cleanup certification for 48 out of those 50 sites and the remaining two sites are re-categorise into middle deep sites.

“At the process we are cleaning 2000 hectares contaminated shoreline in Ogoniland and they are divided into 34 lots and they are all in Gokana.

“We have mangrove restoration sub unit. At the moment we are piloting mangrove restoration and the total are area is 560 hectares. They have been divided into nine lots and all the contractors are planting mangroves. As at today, they have planted 265,000 seedlings of mangroves,” he stated.

Also speaking, the traditional ruler of Bangha, in Khana, Suanu Baridam, stressed that the clean-up should not only focus on the environment but also on improving the lives of the Ogoni people, providing economic opportunities and empowering youths.

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