25 October 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Federal Government and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, have been urged to prioritise the Nigerian Local Content Law, in order to encourage development in the oil impacted communities in Ogoniland.
This is coming as the Minister of State for Environment, Mr. Ibrahim Jibril, had on Monday announced that the Federal Government was set to commence the clean-up of oil spills in Ogoniland.
Jibril had also announced that the exercise would begin before the end of this year, as the procurement process for the clean-up was at the very last stage. He also said the Federal Executive Council would soon grant approval for contracts to be awarded.
But a traditional ruler in Gokana Kingdom of Ogoniland, HRH Panedom Badon, while speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt, said the call is imperative as it would be unfair to execute a project of such magnitude in Ogoniland without involving the immediate victims of the oil spill.
Badon explained that those who orchestrated the Local Content Act did so in order to encourage rural development, adding that the presence of local contractors in the spill site would mean a lot to the people, they would feel a sense of belonging.
The monarch further stated that the involvement of local content development was job creation for the local people, and safety of contractors deployed to the area.
According to him, “Using foreigners alone in the project would be against the interest of the people, in that, they do not know much about the plight of the people and how best to help out.
“A project of this nature ought to be done in line with the people’s request, because only the locals have the potentials to identify such areas.
“It would require the engagement of local contractors to commence operations on the areas that would benefit the people immediately, while the programme lasts.l
The Ogoni monarch also warned against any form of politics in the project, urging that international best practices associated with the cleaning up of crude oil spills must be strictly followed to avoid efforts in futility.
“Every form of political games must not be played around the Ogoni clean-up exercise. I said this because the people would be tempted to revolt, if anything outside the agreement is imported into it by anyone.”