By Davies Iheamnachor
PORT-HARCOURT— GBO Kabaari Ogoni, the Elders Forum of the Ogoni People, Rivers State, has petitioned Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over alleged move by the Minister of Petroleum for State to truncate the remediation process in Ogoniland.
In the petition obtained by Vanguard yesterday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Sen. Bennett Birabi, Dr Desmond Nbete, Mr. Ledum Mitee, Mr. Baritor L. Kpagih, Prof. Johnson Nna, Chief Monday Abueh and five others, expressed worry that there are moves to resume oil exploration in the area without due consultations.
The elders urged Osinbajo to call the Petroleum Minister to order over the engagement process of personnel for the clean-up process, adding that unwholesome conditions were being introduced in the process by the minister.
They said, “Our attention has been drawn to a so-called “Stakeholder’s Engagement” with Ogoni People” with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (MSPR) slated for July 9, 2018.
“The main objective of the meeting, according to the invitation sent to a few selected persons, is the resumption of oil and gas production activities in Ogoni land on the basis of an alleged agreement of an earlier meeting that the resumption of oil and gas activities in Ogoni must now be a condition precedent for the much hyped clean-up and remediation of the Ogoni environment under Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project, HYPREP.
“Gbo Kabaari Ogoni is very saddened and concerned about these developments and wishes to reiterate our position that, considering our recent history, the issue of resumption of oil and gas activities in Ogoni is such a sensitive matter that requires a thorough and painstaking engagement process with a far broader stakeholders than the few handpicked persons currently engaged.”
The elders stated that it was wrong for the Federal Government to tie the clean up to resumption of oil and gas exploration in the area, adding that no significant progress had been made in the clean up after about two years of flag off.
“We are further concerned that two years after the much publicised flag-off ceremony for the clean-up of Ogoni land as recommended by the UNEP by the Vice President, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources is now tying the expected commencement of the clean up and remediation process to resumption of oil and gas activities in our land by his preferred company.
“We are saddened that a Minister in a government avowedly committed to due process and anti-corruption should even contemplate making resumption of oil activities in Ogoni a condition for clean-up of our land, even when no attempt had been made to even engage on or redress the ills of the past.
“We find this clearly insensitive, to say the least, especially at a time that the Federal Government is revisiting the ills of the past in some other communities with a view to redressing them,” they said.