27 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Presidency has indicated that it has commenced the clean-up of oil spill ravages in Ogoniland, in Rivers State.
The spokesman for Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Laolu Akande, told journalists yesterday that work has already begun on the clean-up of Ogoniland.
Niger Delta groups had lamented that the clean-up was yet to commence one year after President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off the exercise.
But speaking against the background of an official visit by Acting President Osinbajo to River State, the chairman of the board of trustees for the clean-up, Mr. Wale Edun, had said machinery was in place for necessary funding for the entire exercise.
“There is funding to start the process, funding is not what is holding us at the moment. The commitment is a billion over five years, and nobody has reneged on that till date. The structure to release the fund is in place,” Edun had said.
On Monday, the Minister of State for Environment, Jibril Ibrahim, said the Buhari administration does not want to start the clean-up on a faulty note.
He said the government is clearing all outstanding issues and building the right structures before kick-starting the clean-up.
But speaking with journalists, Akande said a health impact assessment has already been conducted by a team set up for the clean-up.
“For instance, the coordinating team that was set up for the Ogoni clean-up conducted health impact assessment, they have done salt test, water test, they have hired a number of sons and daughters of Ogoni who are trained in environmental sciences as technical assistants, I think about 15 of them,” he said.
“In the next few weeks, they are going to go back to Geneva where a holistic road map on the cleanup itself will be concluded with the international partners.”
Akande said there would also be a meeting with the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) on issues of development in the region.
“Next week there is going to be a follow-up meeting between the Acting President and the PANDEF. You will recalled that last November the President has held a meeting with the leaders of PANDEF where issues of Niger Delta development was discussed in which the Acting President embarked on the visit to the states of the Niger Delta and since then the president asked that an inter-ministerial committee be composed led by the Vice-president to look at all the issues, specifically using the PANDEF demand as the take off point,” he said.
He added that “That inter-ministerial committee has been meeting virtually every week and next week there is going to be a report from the government side, the inter-ministerial committee by an acting president and PANDEF.
“Some of the issues to be discussed at the meeting include for instance the issue of modular refineries which we hope that starting from August the will be groundbreaking for the first set of modular refineries.”