Ogoni cleanup: Distrust greets FG’s $177m

THE announcement by the Federal Government that it has raised $177 million for Ogoni cleanup was yesterday greeted with distrust among stakeholders in the Niger Delta.

Most stakeholders who spoke to Vanguard said the government’s claim of raising the fund for the exercise lacked sincerity. Those who spoke were the Convener, Initiative For Credible Elections, Mr. Ledum Mitee, rights activist, Zik Gbemre and Lead Driver of Niger Delta Self Determination Movement, Annkio Briggs and President of Ijaw Youths Congress, IYC, Mr. Eric Omare. They described the development as a political gimmick. Briggs said: “When this government came to power, one of its campaign promises was the clean-up exercise bearing in mind that the Ogoni spill is over 60 years, since 1968. The promise of cleaning up Ogoni is three years old as far as this government is concerned.

“When the same government turns around three months before elections, to say it has raised money for Ogoni, I am one of those skeptical because from the beginning I have said that this government will not clean up Ogoni, neither does it have the capacity to do so.”

On his part, Mitee said: “When the government makes statements that we have got money, we have earmarked so and so, it doesn’t impress me especially when it comes so close to elections. Particularly for the Niger Delta, we have had several unfulfilled promises. We are now skeptical when promised about funds being available are made. “We have heard much about the Ogoni Cleanup and nothing has happened. Coming so close to elections, what people want are actions not promises about monies sourced. I am not one of those excited when I hear such stories.’

“Considering the fact that during the 2015 campaigns, Ogoni cleanup was one of the cardinal promises of the Buhari administration to the Niger Delta people, I don’t have confidence even now that the money has been raised.” Zik Gbemre, Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition said: “Government is not being sincere about the Ogoni Cleanup, but all stakeholders are being insincere about the matter.”