Two years after the Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo flagged off the Ogoni oil spill cleanup at Boko town in Gokana local government area of Rivers state, the project has been a continuous source of controversy and disbelief between the residents of the area, stakeholders and the government.
The federal government has been accused of faking the entire clean up as residents continue to report oil spills, polluted water sources, soot and other environmental hazards resulting from shoddy management of drilling practices for nearly five decades. The Ogoni people do not want to leave their land, but if nothing changes they will be forced to.
Most recently, the Movement Of the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) a body that has been at the forefront of raising issues as it relates to environmental degradation of the Ogoni region for decades, put out a statement decrying the terrible handling of the Ogoni clean up project. Legborsi Pyagbara, the current president of MOSOP made this accusation while speaking yesterday at Bori, in Khana local government area of the state during the 26th Ogoni day celebration. He described the progress of the clean up as too slow and too late to commence two years after the flag off.
This isnt the first time Pyagbara or the MOSOP itself has had to raise public alarm over the government’s recalcitrance but their petitions go summarily ignored, and the government has not shown the expected commitment to this project despite making a promise of ten million dollars as take off fund for the project. The zeal with which the federal government is addressing other issues of the same magnitude (amnesty payments for Niger Delta and Boko Haram militants) dwarfs its response to the potentially damning ecological disaster that is brewing in the Ogoni region.
Also, the silence of National Assembly members from the Niger delta on the issue has not been encouraging. Despite being adequately represented by senators from various constituents in the region, no one has brought to the floor any known statement nor press conference nor motion raised on the floor highlighting the Ogoni region and the reluctance of the government to keep its promise to the region’s residents.
The Ogoni people were robbed of their land, their leaders killed by violent military regimes and their land polluted by profit hungry multinationals. We cannot stay silent, even if the government will.