Ogoni clean-up may fail – Abe

The Senator representing Rivers South East, Magnus Ngei Abe, on Thursday, warned that the ongoing Ogoni cleanup programme may not succeed due to increasing spate of security issues.

He also said that unrestrained pollution of Ogoni land is another reason the cleanup exercise may fail.

Abe who stated this as part of his lead debate on a Bill for Act to establish the Federal University of Environment, Science and Agriculture in Ogoni Land noted that every day at least six people are killed in Ogoni land.

He said that he is aware that contracts have been awarded for the cleanup programme but feared that insecurity is a major issue in the area.

He lamented that the security situation in Ogoni land is not one that any meaningful cleanup programme could go on.

The people of Ogoni, he said, were running away as a result of the worsening security situation being experienced in the area.

Urging the Federal Government to take measures to stem the tide of insecurity, Abe insisted that unless the security and continuous pollution of the environment are addressed, no meaningful cleanup programme can take place.

For government must address security and pollution issue to enable contractors to work effectively.

Abe said, “I am aware that contracts for the clean-up of Ogoni land have been awarded. Right now as we speak, the security situation in the area does not provide for a meaningful economic or even contractual activity could go on. As we talk now, every day, at least six people are killed in one community or the other. There is no day they are not killing people. Many residents of the various communities have abandoned their homes and ran away due to violence. So, in that kind of atmosphere, it will be difficult for me to say there is any contractor somewhere in the bush alone working? I don’t think that is possible at this time but I know that contracts have awarded and I believe that it is our responsibility as a nation to address these security issues so that real development can take place.

“Any clean-up that goes on without first addressing the issue of the continued pollution of the environment is a waste of everybody’s money because as the clean-up is going on, the criminals will be spoiling the exercise. Addressing the security issues in Ogoni land, is foundational to the success of the clean-up. However, due to public pressure, people want to see the clean-up exercise going on and that contracts are awarded, people want to believe that something is going on not considering the security challenges in the area.”

On how to address the situation he said: “What I think should be done to address the issue of insecurity, every society rewards the behaviour you want and punish the behaviour you don’t want. In the Niger Delta, violence is being rewarded. If you engage in violence you are rewarded. All over the country criminality is being rewarded.

“People must be held accountable for their action. When people kill people, you say it is cult, it should be murder.

“What does Nigeria expect of Nigerians, we don’t know because we have not agreed. We must be a nation that stands by the truth. If we really want change in Nigeria, everybody must stand up for it. What is happening is that everybody thinks that they can secure their space. We must decide that we can not tolerate what is wrong. Everybody cannot go to jail, it is not possible. Stand for the truth.”

On the proposed university, he said, ‘One critical objective of the University will be to establish improved scientific standards and train more competent apprentices and student that will fill the vacancies that expatriates are currently occupying due to lack of local competencies.”

He added that the university when established will produce specialists and graduates in different areas of environmental challenges such as: Environmental Management/Engineering, Environmental Accidents, Water Pollution, Hazardous waste detection and management, Soil Contamination, Ozone Depletion, Assessment, Remediation, and protection of air and water resources, River Basin Management, Flood Protection and Drought prevention.