His Excellency, Dr, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces State House, Abuja
His ExcelIencç Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi
Governor of Rivers State
REQUEST FOR URGENT ACTION ON UNEP REPORT ON OGONI
We write on behalf of the Ogoni people to urge action on the part of the Federal Government that was promised on the receipt of the UNEP report on oil spills in Ogoni. It has been three months since the report was submitted to the Presidency with details that demanded immediate action. Since then we have been told of high level meetings and the formation of inter ministerial committees but the Ogoni people have not heard back from you or the Federal Government.
To quote the summary of the report
“Some areas, which appear unaffected at the surface, are in reality severely contaminated underground and action to protect human health and reduce the risks to affected communities should occur without delay. In at least 10 Ogoni communities where drinking water is contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons, public health is seriously threatened”.
As Your Excellency will no doubt be aware, these are not theoretical risks but reports of exposure to a daily hazard for which UNEP recommended immediate actions and health checks in these communities.
We believe these were the imperatives that led Your Excellency on the receipt of the UNEP Report to constitute an inter Ministerial Committee to come out with the implementation road map of the recommendations of the Report within two weeks.
When nothing was heard further on the issue from the Federal Government months after the setting up of the said Committee, both Houses of the National Assembly, in a rare and commendable show of national unity, unanimously passed Resolutions calling on the Government to urgently take steps to implement the recommendations of the UNEP Report.
The complete lack of any action in the regard in spite of these, have not just caused serious concerns about the gap between actions and intentions of the Federal government regarding Ogoni and by extension the Niger delta but made our people to particularly ask how long will communities that have been found to be drinking poisoned water and living on poisoned land wait for a response from government?
Your Excellency, as our obligation on behalf of the Ogoni people especially those whose lives have been shortened and those who are at risk is to take action against those who have shirked their responsibilities and any who delay in their response, We are also obliged to asking which part of the Federal Government will be assuming responsibility and liability for the consequences of delays in responding to this urgent health and environmental crisis?
We have carried our protests over Shell to many lands over many years. By its inaction the Federal Government risks associating itself with the actions of Shell and NNPC both of whom should have ended their abuse of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta many years
As the UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner, stated: “The clean-up of Ogoniland will not only address a tragic legacy but also represents a major ecological restoration enterprise with potentially multiple positive effects ranging from bringing the various stakeholders together in a single concerted cause to achieving lasting improvements for the Ogoni People.”
We agree and we see this as a vital first step that could demonstrate how to reverse decades of damage from oil spills across the Niger Delta. One concern is that if the cavalier attitude by government and oil company officials to communities across the Niger Delta-especially more peaceful areas such as Ogoni-continues, then unwittingly the seeds of a swift and bitter return to conflict would have been sown.
We want to assure Your Excellency, that we remain committed to working with the Federal Government to establish a beacon of hope for the region through any effective path for peaceful resolution, but we do so with a renewed sense of urgency.
We look forward to this matter being addressed with renewed urgency and stand ready to co-operate in ending the pollution that is killing our people and our region, but for the meantime we are obliged to using the occasion of the remembrance of our heroes who were murdered in the struggle for justice in the Niger delta, to protest the neglect.
Cc: The Senate President
National Assembly Complex
House of Representatives Abuja.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Environment Abuja.
House of Committee on Environment
Senator Magnus Abe
The Secretary General