25 November 2014, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The Federal Government has said that the restoration of Ogoniland will commence in first quarter next year in line with the recommendations of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, report, and the understanding reached by the multi-stakeholders group.
Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland at the follow-up meeting of technical working groups on environment restoration of Ogoniland, Mrs. Alison-Madueke stressed that the Federal Government is in a hurry to begin the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme report which recommended the spending of about $1 billion dollars for the cleaning up of the oil spills that have ravaged the oil producing community for decades.
“Yes the government feels it is important to start the process in an aggressive manner. We also think that there are some quick-wins that can be started as early as January next year. If we do not get to do this within a very short period, we may not get to do it again. The Federal Government is ready to fulfill its own counterpart funding that will not be path of the regular budgetary provision and that is why an independent body has been set up to manage the fund. On our part, government is committed to ensure this process is kick-started and will continue to take practical steps to encourage all the stakeholders to see to the success of the implementation.”
While the Minister tasked the four Technical Working Groups to ensure that there are associated costs of all the items that are listed, she also stressed the need to have financial implementing framework that will guide the implementation process.
Reacting to the call for the involvement of more community members in the multi-stakeholders committee, she cautioned against proliferation of agencies and bodies that may likely impede the speed of the implementation process.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources stressed that the restoration of Ogoniland will not only contribute to massive creation of jobs for the Niger Delta people, but will help extend business opportunities well beyond communities where oil is produced.
However, she was quick to point out the need to ensure that Ogoni youths are empowered to be employers of labour and not working for people saying, “it is better to equip the youths to engage in ventures that can make them employers of labour. They should be able to employ more people and not just be working for other people.”
On his part, the Archbishop of Sokoto diocese, Mathew Kukah, cautioned against heavy reliance on bureaucracy and stressed that the spirit of voluntarism must be built into the youths and all members of the Ogoniland.
He also called for the translation of the UNEP report in local languages spoken in the six kingdoms of the Ogoiland to ensure that the community members are in sync with the intent and letters of the report.
The technical working groups are made up of Environmental Remediation/Monitoring Legislation, Contracting, Procurement and Fund Management, Sustainable Development and Livelihood Initiatives and Community Engagement and Communication.
*NNPC press release