By Daud Olatunji
ABEOKUTA-The Senate Committee on Environment has assured that the ongoing cleanup process in Ogoni community in Rivers State would not be abandoned.
A member of the Senate Committee on Environment, who represents Rivers South in the Senate, Sen.Magnus Abe, stated this on Wednesday.
He said the project was not being delayed as a result of fund, but for some technical challenges, added that the upper chamber was being briefed regularly on the efforts to make the project successful.
Abe disclosed this at the sideline of the ongoing 11th National Council on Environment meeting, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
He, however, pleaded for understanding and cooperation of all stakeholders assuring the national assembly will provide proper oversight to make the project a success.
“People should be assured that the cleanup is on course and that we will provide serious oversight of it to see that it happens and that we acknowledged the concerns of those who feel it is a bit slow but just to assure them that it is on course and working because we are being briefed on the efforts that are being made.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any mistake of the past because nothing was done actually in the past, if there is any mistake, it is the mistake of the present.
“What I would say is that the expectation of the people, people wanted to see things happening immediately but people have to understand that there are frameworks, procedure and challenges of implementation of programmes of this scale, which has never be done before.
“If you are not patient, you are not thorough, you could easily get overwhelmed by the whole thing because it is a multi layer operation, it is something we have not done before, it is just a new thing we are seeing how best we can make it happen, people have to be patient and give all support they could.
“I don’t think money is the factor at this point because so far, the money that is available has not been fully utilised, I don’t think money is the problem but like I said, challenges in trying to put the whole thing together and we are working on those challenges, we should be a bit patient and supportive in order to get the best out of the exercise”,he stated.
Earlier in his opening address, the Minister of State of Environment, Ibrahim Usman, called for involvement of the private sector in the implementation of UNEP report on the cleanup.
The call, according to Usman, became imperative in order to bring all stakeholders on board at executing the project.
The Minister said project is being implemented through the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project.
According to him, clean-up of lead contaminated sites in Shikira, Nigeria State and the soon to be launched Green Bonds programme, will begin in earnest.
Also speaking, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, said the state, as the industrial capital of Nigeria, has put in place measures to ensure friendly and safe environment.
He disclosed that his administration had embarked on tree planting project on 50 hectares of land, to combat deforestation, urging the Council to use the meeting to orientate, educate and inform the people on the need to imbibe the culture of reforestation, as well as desisting from all habits that are detrimental to a safe environment.