OGONI CLEAN UP MAY FAIL – ABE
Senator Magnus Abe (Rivers South East) has warned that the ongoing Ogoni clean up may not succeed due to increasing insecurity.
He added that unrestrained pollution of Ogoni land is another reason why the clean up may fail.
Abe, who stated this as part of his lead debate on a Bill for Act to establish the Federal University of Environment, Science and Agriculture in Ogoni Land, noted that no fewer than six people die in Ogoni land daily.
According to him, contracts have been awarded for the clean up but insecurity is a major issue in the area.
The people, he lamented, were running away because of the worsening security situation.
The senator, who urged the Federal Government to take measures to stem the insecurity, insisted that unless the security and continuous pollution of the environment are addressed, no meaningful clean up could happen. He said: “I know that contracts for the clean up of Ogoni land have been awarded. Right now, the security situation in the area does not provide for a meaningful economic or even contractual activity to happen. Every day, about six people die in one community or the other. Many residents have abandoned their homes and ran away due to violence. So, in that kind of atmosphere, it will be difficult for any contractor to be somewhere in the bush alone working? I don’t think that is possible at this time. But I believe it is our responsibility as a nation to address these security issues so that real development can happen.
“Any clean-up that goes on without first addressing continued pollution of the environment is a waste of everybody’s money. Addressing the security issues in Ogoni land is foundational to the success of the cleanup. “However, due to public pressure, people want to see the clean up going on and contracts awarded, people want to believe that something is going on not considering the security challenges in the area.
“What I think should be done to address insecurity is that every society rewards the behaviour you want and punish the behaviour you don’t want. In the Niger Delta, violence is being rewarded. If you engage in violence you are rewarded. All over the country criminality is being rewarded.
“People must be held accountable for their action. When people kill people, you say it is cult, it should be murder. What does Nigeria expect of Nigerians, we don’t know because we have not agreed. We must be a country that stands by the truth. If we really want change in Nigeria, everybody must stand up for it. “What is happening is that everybody thinks they can secure their space. We must decide that we cannot tolerate what is wrong. Everybody cannot go to jail, it is not possible. Stand for the truth.”
On the proposed university, Abe said: “One critical objective of the University will be to establish improved scientific standards and train more competent apprentices and students who will fill the vacancies that expatriates are currently occupying due to lack of local competencies.”
Abe added that the university, when established, will produce specialists and graduates in different areas of environmental challenges such as Environmental Management/Engineering, Environmental Accidents, Water Pollution, Hazardous waste detection and management, Soil Contamination, Ozone Depletion, Assessment, Remediation, and protection of air and water resources, River Basin Management, Flood Protection and Drought prevention.