The Federal Government says that the clean-up of oil-impacted sites in Ogoni land, Rivers State, is ongoing, but warned against acts capable of causing a re-pollution of the area.
The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar, said this during the inauguration of of HYPREP area office in Bori, Rivers State and flag off public health inventory and sustainable livelihood needs assessment awareness programme.
Abubakar advised community leaders and youths of Ogoni to play active roles in stopping artisanal refining and oil theft.
He explained that cleaning up complex sites in the swamps and creeks when illegal refining activities continue amount to an exercise in futility.
Abubakar said, “The needs assessment forms, which will be administered next week, is to ensure that training of youths is based on their desired choice of occupation, and not an imposition by government.
“The youths engaged in artisanal refining now have the choice to stop the dangerous health-threatening activity and embrace a safer occupation for their good.
“The restoration and management of the damaged mangrove vegetation is a critical activity of the project.
“A joint team comprising professionals from HYPREP, UNEP, NOSDRA, IOCs, MOSOP/KAGOTE and CSO has been constituted to undertake a pre-shoreline clean-up technique assessment of the mangrove sites damaged by artisanal refining and oil discharges.
“As recommended in the UNEP report, the stoppage of re-pollution from oil spills and discharges is a pre-condition for clean-up of such areas that are liable to re-pollution, otherwise it will be an exercise in futility.
“I want to strongly appeal to our community leaders and youths to be vanguards against artisanal refining and crude theft that constitutes a threat to the clean-up goals. The President wants to see that Ogoni land remains clean after the clean-up. Re-pollution must be stopped if this is to be achieved.”
He announced that complex and semi-complex impacted sites in which groundwater remediation was required, have been advertised for prequalification of competent companies.
“Nigeria companies are strongly encouraged to partner with technically competent companies to ensure success and promote local content development and transfer of technology.”
Earlier, the head of operations overseeing the HYPREP coordination office, Prof. Philip Shekwolo, said the flag off was to provide other sources of livelihoods that will ensure that the pipelines are not tampered with.
“The public health inventory will be anchored by free medical outreach. It will be carried out by Ogoni Doctors Forum and we thank them for their support to this programme,” Shekwolo stated. PUNCH