Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has flagged off the construction of the Ogoni Power Project, expressing confidence that the project upon completion, will spur the socio-economic development of Ogoniland, create job opportunities for artisans and enhance entrepreneurial growth.
The President virtually participated in the groundbreaking of the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration and the Ogoni 100-Bed Specialist Hospital, performed on his behalf by the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi at Wiiya Akara, Khana Local Government Area (LGA), Rivers State, on Friday.
On the power project, the President noted that it will bring sustainability to the Potable Water Schemes, Livelihood Programme, Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration, and the Specialist Hospital projects being undertaken by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).
On the benefits of the Ogoni Specialist Hospital, the President said it would bring succour to those who over time have been exposed to hydrocarbon pollution and other ailments associated with the environmental pollution in the community.
He urged the Ogoni community to cooperate with the Federal Ministry of Environment, HYPREP, and the companies handling the execution of the projects.
He added that the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration, on whose site the groundbreaking ceremony was held, will provide capacity and research opportunities to scholars within Nigeria and around the world on environmental remediation.
‘‘It will initiate studies on homegrown methods and approaches to addressing oil pollution in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country, to Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
‘‘It is instructive to know that Ogoni clean-up is not the only project being undertaken by this administration to give the people a sense of belonging in national affairs.
‘‘This administration is constructing the Bodo/Bonny Road -a multi-billion-naira project to provide a link road to Bonny Island – host to the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Plant.
‘‘This all-important economic road passes through the heart of Ogoniland and the benefits it will bring to the local economy will be considerable,’’ he said.
The President also disclosed that approvals for the rehabilitation of the Ogoni axis of the East/West Road which the Bodo/Bonny Road opens into and serves as the gateway to the Oil and Gas Free Zone, Onne.
‘‘Today is special and dear to me as it reminds me of the promise I made to the Ogoni people when I came here to campaign in 2015 for the Presidential election that saw my emergence as the President of our great nation, Nigeria.
‘‘I pledged to implement the United Nations Environment Programme Report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland which was submitted to the Federal Government four years earlier if elected as the President. It was a solemn pledge to my fellow citizens of Ogoni that deserves urgent economic, social, and infrastructural intervention required for a decent living,” he said.
President Buhari told the gathering that contracts have been approved for the next phase of remediation of sites (medium risk sites), the training of five thousand Ogoni people in sustainable livelihood skills, and the engagement of five hundred Ogoni youths as environmental vanguards.
He commended the Minister of Environment his team at the Ministry and HYPREP for their doggedness in delivering on his instruction to as a matter of priority, deliver on the Ogoni clean-up and other key objectives of the Ministry including biodiversity and wildlife conservation, land remediation, upland and coastal erosion control.
He also applauded Governor Wike of Rivers State for his support of the Federal Government’s developmental initiatives and particularly for the relative peace in Ogoni Land and Rivers State in general.
‘‘Your Excellency and Royal Highnesses, it is my desire that you will continue to support this administration and the incoming administration led by His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu who I am confident will consolidate the gains achieved from this project.
‘‘It is my hope that you will support the implementation of the project and utilize the benefits for the present and future generations of Ogoniland,’’ he said.
HRM Mene (Dr) Suanu Timothy Yormaadam Baridam Gbenemene, Kasimene Bangha VII of Ogoniland, on behalf of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, presented a chieftaincy title, Gbene of Ogoni land (Mighty Eagle of Ogoni land), to President Buhari.
The title was received on behalf of the President by the Minister.
The Minister of Environment used the occasion to provide an update on the modest progress being made in the restoration of oil-impacted sites, which is the core mandate of HYPREP.
Credit: Voice of Nigeria