The Federal Government, yesterday, gave reasons for the delay in the commencement of Ogoni clean-up exercise, saying it was to build a solid foundation for the project.
It will be recalled that in June, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, launched the “Clean-Up of Ogoniland” at Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
But since flag-off the project experienced hiccups.
However, Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, said every arrangement concerning the project has now been perfected, including the issue of funding.
This came as the Director General of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, Sir Peter Idabor, called for review of the law that set up the agency with a view to strengthening it to achieve its mandates.
Mohammed, who spoke at the 10th Anniversary of NOSDRA, in Abuja, said: “Talking about Ogoni spill, all resources have been made available and the money has been released. But if you do not have structure in place the money will go into the ground and people will not feel the impact. It is important for us to put together structure and make sure that we have a solid foundation.
Who is in the office, who is the budget manager and how are they recruiting? All of these were not taken care of in the past. But this time, we believe that by the time we leave, people will see result. It will be a continuing process and in the next few months people will be seeing some of the issues that they had not seen.”
The minister maintained that it was important for militants to stop further oil spillage by putting a halt to bombing of oil facilities to assist the exercise.
“In Nigeria, there is a growing level of oil spill incidents caused majorly by illegal bunkering, artificial refining, oil theft and armed militancy. These activities occur mostly in facilities located on land and swamp areas.
However, some incidents do occur offshore, and with the increased interest of operators to pursue exploration and production in the deep offshore, there is the need to step up the level of preparedness to effectively respond to challenges that may be presented by oil spills in the marine environment.
“The devastating impacts of oil spills on the environment, health and livelihoods of our rural and urban communities have led to land degradation, loss of lives, destruction of habitats, loss of biodiversity, incidence of diseases, poor sanitation as well as the depletion of national revenue base.
“The need to prevent and rapidly respond to oil spill incidents whenever they occur can therefore not be overemphasized. To this end, the Federal Government is committed to dialoguing with state governments, opinion and youth leaders in the Niger Delta region to find a lasting solution to these incessant attacks which deplete our national revenue base and degrade the environment.”
In his remarks, Director General of NOSDRA, Idabor, said the agency had successfully upgraded its laboratory in Port-Harcourt for sample analysis in an attempt to compliment the clean-up exercise of the Ogoniland.