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Ogoniland Clean-up: Oil theft, illegal refining must stop now – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday,  warned that the Federal Government would no longer tolerate the current theft and illegal refining of crude oil in the Niger Delta. Buhari, who was represented by Vice-President, Yemi Osinbanjo, gave the warning at the launch of “Clean-Up of Ogoniland” at Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, urged the regulators of the oil industry to carry out their responsibilities in line with best practices. He said:  “The current oil theft and illegal refining will not be tolerated. The regulators in the oil industries must live up to expectations. They must ensure that oil companies carry out their operations in line with universal best services.”

 

 

Buhari said government was laying a foundation for change to ensure the rule of law and safety of the people. He said the aim was to diversify the nation’s economy and provide jobs and wealth for the people. According to him, the clean-up of Ogoniland will have sustainable development components that will benefit the people. He said:   “The methodology for the clean-up will ensure job creation for young people. The agro-allied industries required for processing of agricultural produce will also be put in place.” He also called on international oil companies doing business in the country to ensure they comply with international best practices. The President said approval had been given for the constitution of all the institutions needed to drive the implementation process, adding that stakeholders should work in synergy to ensure success of the exercise.

 

 

 

Buhari also appealed against violence in the region, stressing that the Federal Government could do justice to all without anyone turning to violence. He said recent attack on oil facilities in the region had brought about reduction in the daily production of crude and also affected gas supply for electricity generation in the country. Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company and Country Chair, Shell companies in Nigeria, Mr Osagie Okunbo, assured that Shell and it’s partners would  be actively involved in  the project. “Mr President , the NNPC/SPDC JP also remains committed to contributing it’s share of the Environmental Restoration Fund, ERF, and will work with other stakeholders to finalise the appropriate governance and funding structure,” he said.

 

 

Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, said the launch of the clean-up of Ogoni by the President was a promise fulfilled,  and appealed for commitment and transparency on all parties that would be involved in driving the process for it to be successful. But a prominent Ogoni leader, who pleaded anonymity, expressed mixed feelings about the exercise, describing it as an image seeking pursuit. He said: "I am not even aware of any exercise that was commenced in Ogoni land today (yesterday). If they have done anything, it is only known to them because I am not even sure that they have awarded the contract for the cleaning exercise. Key people are in the dark as to what they are doing or intend to do. Though I have read reports in the papers about it, the fact is that those who are supposed to be carried along are left out in what they claimed to be doing.”

 

 

 

However, the Presidency yesterday refuted claims in some quarters that Buhari canceled his trip to Ogoniland, to launch the commencement of clean up oil spillage in the region, stating that the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, represented the President on the occasion. But responding to enquiries by Vanguard on why the President failed to appear in person, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the President was represented at the event by his deputy. “We all went to school. There is a difference between cancellation and being represented by someone. The president did not cancel his trip to Ogoniland. He was represented by the Vice President,” Adesina said.

 

 

Meanwhile,  former governor of Rivers State and the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, and the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, King. Godwin Gininwa, have said that the former President, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan made a mistake for failing to implement the United Nations Environmental Programme report on Ogoniland. Amaechi, during the official flag-off of the cleanup of the area by President Buhari,  noted that he (Amaechi) did everything possible to ensure that Jonathan implemented the UNEP report on Ogoniland, but regretted that his efforts yielded no fruit. He said that the former president refused to carry out the project that would have benefitted the people of the state, adding that Jonathan was never a brother to the state, adding that the cleanup would bring positive change to the economic life of the people of the area, as the president had kept to his promise. Similarly, Gininwa noted that Jonathan made mistake byfailing to implement the cleanup of Ogoni and the entire region during his time in office. Gininwa emphasized that Jonathan disappointed the people of Ogoni even after the people lead campaign of his election to monarchs in the Northern state. The royal father called on politicians and Nigerian leaders to learn how to keep to the promises to the people.

Photo Credit: 
guardian.ng

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