The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and Social Action have warned that Federal Government’s delay in implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland will render it useless.
The President of MOSOP, Mr. Legborsi Saro Pyagbara said Ogoni people welcome all renewed interest on discussions of the implementation of the report and expect urgent action by President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Speaking during activities to mark the third anniversary of the release of UNEP report, Pyagbara explained that former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration engaged in several discussions without taking any action. “We call on the Federal Government to quicken the pace of implementation of the UNEP report as any further delay would continue to increase the implications of the pollution as its footprints would expand. Besides, further delay would affect the report itself and may require another study to validate its earlier findings. UNEP in 2013 alluded to this fact.”
He implored the Federal Government to pay compensation to Ogoni people in respect of the damage done to their environment. In addition, he called on Shell to end its divide and rule game of payments that is causing conflict in Ogoni communities. “It is within this context that we welcome renewed interest of the present government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to open up discussions on the implementation of the UNEP report on Ogoniland.
The Ogoni people are fully prepared to engage in these discussions. We are therefore seizing this opportunity to call on all levels of government, particularly the state and local governments to engage fully with this process of implementation of the report,” he said.
On his part, the Director of Social Action, Isaac Osuoka, declared that the time has come for the Nigerian government to move from vague rhetoric to concrete actions at implementing the recommendations of the report by the international agency. “The reality of Ogoni people continuing to drink water from wells that are contaminated with over 900 times the level of cancer-causing benzene that is allowed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), four years after UNEP called for remediation, is sad commentary on the responsibility of the state to its citizens. While we welcome the avowed intentions of the Buhari-led government to commence the clean-up of Ogoniland, words must be matched with action,” he said.
Osuoka pointed out that the UNEP report revealed that decades of widespread environmental pollution and degradation of Ogoniland arising from poorly regulated oil and gas exploitation practice have done more harm than previously imagined.
He stated that massive pollution has brought unimaginable pressure on the environment of the region and has greatly compromised its ability to sustain healthy life and meaningful livelihoods.
According to him, diseases and ailments have thus become commonplace even as conflicts and hostilities are increasing as a direct result of contestations for the severely limited means of livelihood.
“Social Action strongly enjoins the government to, without further delay, set in motion the concrete machinery for the full implementation of the UNEP report. It is also very imperative that this process be transparent to enable civil society organisations monitor the process and support communities to participate in the processes. Social Action also calls on the Nigerian government to support UNEP and the World Health Organisation to conduct a Niger Delta-wide environmental and health assessment of the impact of pollution in the areas,” Osuoka said.
By Dike Onwuamaeze