President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abuja urged Ogoni leaders to educate indigenous people on the value of protecting national assets such as pipelines and other oil facilities, saying that intentional damage usually creates more havoc on their environment and hinders the development in the region.
Receiving some leaders and inhabitants of Ogoni Land at the State House, the President noted that the federal government is committed to cleaning up Ogoni Land so that the natives can resume their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.
“You will have to educate the people of Ogoni Land and the region more that when pipelines are broken, more damage is done to the surrounding environment and to the people. The majority of farmers and fishermen are struggling because the fish are now moving to deep water, ” he said.
The president said bad industry practices coupled with safety concerns had resulted in massive spills with accompanying environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to unrest and conflict.
He said the government would put an end to all outstanding issues regarding the sons of the Ogoni land.
“Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished representatives of the people of Ogoni Land, I note the need to ensure the completion of the segment of the east-west road crossing Ogoni Land, and steps will be taken to ensure delivery within the framework of the Infrastructure development fund as previously designed. We intend to complete this vital Nigeria artery.
“In addition, we pledge to ensure leniency and national integration as part of this administration’s attempt to lay the groundwork for true reconciliation and end the problems of the Ogoni land.
“The unfortunate incidents of the early 1990s that resulted in the deaths of distinguished sons of Ogoni Land and the collateral legal proceedings are indelible in our memories.
“Despite the dramatic circumstances, the federal government will examine the request for pardon to finally bring the Ogoni saga to a close,” President Buhari noted.
According to the president, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had obtained a license to operate the OML11, which will stimulate economic activities and integration in the area.
“To ensure the stimulation of economic activities in Ogoni Land, supported by the vast petroleum resources underlying the Ogoni Land and neighboring communities, NPDC, a subsidiary of the NNPC, has obtained a license to operate the OML11.
“Accordingly, the NNPC is hereby invited to involve all host communities, especially the Ogoni, to ensure that inclusive oil and gas exploration and production processes are based on the optimal involvement of host communities. The NPDC will establish a broad program for the emergence of a new Ogoni land for the benefit of the Ogoni people and Nigeria as a whole, ” he added.
President Buhari said he was aware of the adoption of the Federal University of Environmental Technology bill by the National Assembly and awaits its transmission for further necessary measures.
“This administration has placed the rehabilitation of the Niger Delta as a top priority and has committed a lot of resources to tackle existing problems, including launching a billion US dollar oil cleanup exercise to reverse the terrible damage. and restore the ecosystem.
“I am pleased that the restoration and enhancement activities under the auspices of the United Nations and the Oil Pollution Control Project vehicle have started to operate since we took office as promised.
“We will take additional measures to ensure a faithful and rapid execution of the project in order to restore the environment and allow the resumption of agricultural and fishing activities in the affected areas,” he added.
The president also thanked the leaders for the recognition of the federal government’s efforts to clean up the region and stimulate more economic activity.
“Your Royal Highnesses and most distinguished people of Ogoni Land, thank you very much for your kind words and recognition of the efforts of our administration to move your part and all regions of the country forward.”
In his address, the President of the Supreme Council of Traditional Chiefs Ogoni, His Majesty King Godwin NK Giniwa, thanked President Buhari for various interventions in the region, especially on environmental remediation.
The Supreme Ruler noted that the people believe in the unity of Nigeria and the future of each group can only be guaranteed in one nation.
He congratulated the president for the achievements in critical infrastructure in the country, especially in the construction of railways and roads, calling for more efforts in the supply of drinking water.