Port Harcourt — The Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment to a cleaner and healthier Ogoni environment, access to clean water and robust healthcare and livelihood restoration for the people of Ogoniland as recommended in the UNEP Report.
The Minister of Environment, Hon. Balarabe Abbas Lawal, said this in Terabor Community, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, at the commissioning of four water schemes and inspection of health facilities provided by HYPREP in Terabor General Hospital, Ogoniland.
Lawal who also performed a symbolic planting of mangroves in Bomu, Gokana LGA, as part of the mangrove restoration programme of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, said community people must be involved in the UNEP Report implementation project.
The Minister also urged Traditional Rulers in Ogoni to continue to render their support and cooperation to the government to achieve the collective goal of providing a healthier, cleaner and safer environment in Ogoni communities.
According to him, President Ahmed Tinubu was not happy that for seven years, the implementation of the UNEP Report on Ogoni had not been moving swiftly as planned, hence he had signed an undertaking before the President to fast-track the project.
“In our pursuit of a sustainable and healthy future, access to clean water and robust healthcare are foundational pillars. The water scheme project we celebrate today is not merely a structure but a symbol of our commitment to providing clean and accessible water to the people of Ogoniland. Clean water is not a luxury but a fundamental human right and this project is a testament to our dedication to ensuring this right for all citizens.
“Additionally, the inspection of health facilities in Ogoniland underscores the importance of a robust healthcare system. The well-being of our citizens is paramount and investing in healthcare infrastructure is an investment in the prosperity and vitality of our communities. As we commission this water scheme and assess our health facilities let us remember that our collective efforts are building blocks for a healthier environment and a more resilient community.
“The challenges ahead are significant, but our determination is unwavering and collectively we will overcome all future obstacles. May this initiative serve as a beacon of progress and cooperation, fostering a future where the people of Ogoni can thrive in a clean and healthy environment.”
Also, the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Prof Nenibarini Zabbey, noted that one of the cardinal mandates of the HYPREP, in line with the recommendations of UNEP on Ogoniland is the provision of potable water.
Zabbey said six water contracts awarded in phase I have been completed in six communities namely Alode, Barako, and now Terabor, Ebubu, Kpean and Korokoro, adding that the Terabor water facility has a tank capacity of 900,000 litres with a reticulation distance of 80 kilometres across seven communities in Gokana, namely Nweol, Lewe, Mogho, Bera, Kpor, Gbe, and Giokoo.
He added that HYPREP has commenced Phase II of the water scheme in Ogoniland with the award of an additional 14 contracts that will reticulate potable water across 52 communities of Ogoniland.
“The completion and commissioning of the Terabor. Korkoro, Kpean, and Ebubu water schemes today are a further affirmation of the steadfast commitment of the Federal Government through HYPREP to the full implementation of the recommendations of the UNEP Report, particularly in the provision of potable water that meets WHO standards to the good people of Ogoniland.
“The sustainability component of these water facilities has been well thought out. The facilities will be run by HYPREP for three years in active collaboration with the communities, NGOs, Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development, and the local government councils.
“We shall establish a community-based Water Consumers Association to manage the facilities. Plans are underway to provide solar power systems as an alternative to the current diesel power supply system. The Ogoni Power Project will reinforce the water schemes’ power sustainability when completed.”
Earlier, the Gberemene Gokana Kingdom, HRM King Festus Babari Bagia, urged the Minister to ensure that livelihood beneficiaries are equipped with good starter packs that will dissuade them from returning to illegal oil bunkering activities.
“Let the clean-up and every other project be done to international standard. We have seen what you’re doing already but it is not enough. As long as there are oil pipelines crisscrossing the Niger Delta there will be oil spills and devastation.”