Bayelsa govt applauds Buhari for UNEP report implementation

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

The Bayelsa government has applauded President Muhammad Buhari for approving the implementation of the UNEP report on the cleanup of Ogoniland.

The Commissioner for Environment in the state, Mr Iniruo Wills, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa on Sunday applauded the president for initiating the implementation of the cleanup the oil-polluted Ogoniland.

“President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the steps to fast-track the cleanup and restoration of Ogoniland in line with UNEP’s recommendations is a positive signal for the hitherto relegated environment sector and for the Niger Delta region.

“This is an elixir, coming at the fourth anniversary of the release of the UNEP report, which happens to be the first anniversary falling within President Buhari’s tenure.

“We congratulate the Ogoni people and the entire Niger Delta,” Wills said.

He further made a case for Bayelsa and other states in the Niger Delta equally impacted by oil pollution, induced by oil and gas exploration and production.

“We are very hopeful that the president and relevant Federal Government authorities will correct the crucial omissions in the measures approved, especially the non-incorporation/representation of other pollution ravaged states in the Niger Delta.

“For example, Bayelsa State is currently under the burden of about one thousand recorded oil spills per year.

“The state of Bayelsa has been suffering the same fate as Ogoniland for 60 years, dating back to the start of Nigeria’s commercial oil production which took place in Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa State,” Wills said.

He noted that the pipeline explosion from Agip’s oil field in Bayelsa which claimed the lives of 14 people, including two regulatory officials, reflected the plight of the state.

“Overall, we are excited at the new prospects for environmental protection and restoration in our oil producing communities.

“If these measures are faithfully implemented and replicated across the other ecologically degraded states in the region, they will place President Buhari on record as a president that is serious about the remediation of the ravaged Niger Delta environment.

“We therefore look forward to a total reversal of the Federal Government’s long tradition of handling the grave dangers of environmental degradation by half measures,” Wills said.

He called on the Federal Government to adequately fund NOSDRA and to urgently enable the agency to establish the National Oil Spill Control and Response Centre mandated by the NOSDRA Act.

The commissioner appealed to the government to implement the proposal by NOSDRA to site the oil spill control centre in Bayelsa.

Buhari on Aug. 5 approved the constitution of a board of trustees for the Ogoni Trust Fund and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project governing council.

The president further directed that a contribution of 10 million dollars be made by the stakeholders within 30 days of the appointment of board of trustees.

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