PAUL OBIAJUNWO, PORTHARCOURT
Ogoni leaders, made up of traditional Rulers, Politicians, businessmen and community heads yesterday demanded speedy implementation of projects in the affected communities of the four local government areas in Ogon land.
They expressed dissatisfaction over inability of the stakeholders to contribute their own quota of the $1billion clean up in Ogoni land, adding that it is not enough to present an Ogoni man at the front as the project coordinator.
The Ogoni leaders insisted that the project coordinator must always open up and feed them with a reasonable information to enable them pressurize the government, board of directors and all others who are responsible to fast tract the project.
Speaking during a consultative meeting with the coordinator of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekil in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, the people of Ogoni said the residents of the affected communities are consuming poisonous water.
In his opening remark, Mr. Barinua Wifa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who chaired the meeting, said the essence of the meeting is to listen to the overview of the cleanup from the project coordinator and know what role to play as Ogoni leaders.
He said it is legitimate for people to show concern about the issue affecting the people and its environment but it is totally wrong to play politics with issues that are affecting the people.
He called on the Federal government to be sincere and provide adequate fund for the project implementation in Ogoni land, stressing that Ogoni leaders are backing their kinsman, the project coordinator, Marvin Dekil.
All those who spoke at the meeting where worried that the implementation in Ogoni land is on a slow pace which they said are not going down well with the affected communities.
They decided that before anything could take place in the four affected local government areas in Ogoni land, the affected communities must be provided with safe drinking water.
Hon Dike Matthew, Member Representing Tai Constituency in Rivers State House of Assembly, said their decision to task HYPREP to take urgent step in providing water to the affected communities was based on the recommendations by UNEP report which says that water sources in the area are contaminated.
Hon. Matthew said: “The UNEP report started clearly that the drinking waters in the area are not safe for consumption. So why are they still telling us that they are going to provide water when water are yet to be provided to this affected people.
“If UNEP report said water source has been contaminated and that drinking it is poisonous, yet the people are still drinking the same water, something need to be done urgently to protect the lives of the people.”
Responding to some of the questions raised during the meeting by Ogoni leaders, the project coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil said a lot has been done to ensure a successful remediation and restoration of the people livelihood.
He said: “I think since the Presidential flag-off of the project in June 2016, significant effort has been devoted to establishing a robust governance structure, comprising a Governing Council, a Board of Trustees, and a project management office. This was to provide effective implementation of the project.”