International News

Ogoni Ruler, Senator Disown Diigbo, Self-Governance

A delegation of Ogoni people to President Goodluck Jonathan has dissociated itself from the self-government plot recently announced by a faction of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), led by Dr. Goodluck Diigbo.
Paramount Ruler of Ogoni people, Godwin N. K Gininwa and Senator Magnus Abe, who led the delegation, claimed that the people of Ogoni have been calling for devolution of powers rather than committing treason.
They added that Ogoni people could never support any effort to jeopardize the future of the country but tasked the government to work for their economic and social integration through special development initiatives.
“Even though, Ogoni has always supported the call for devolution of powers to local entities to reflect true federalism upon which the Nigerian nationhood is anchored, we wish to assure you, Mr. President, and indeed assure the Nigerian people, that Ogoni remains committed to the unity of the Nigerian state and that we are with Nigeria, which is contrary to recent media reports on Ogoni,” Abe said.
Interacting with the Ogoni leaders President Jonathan reiterated his administration’s commitment to the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Protection (UNEP) report, stating that every aspect of the report will be looked at thoroughly.
Explaining that the federal government has not given mandate to any oil company to take over Shell’s oil wells, the president said the government is working harder to address the issues raised in the UNEP report.
In a statement that was read to the president, the Ogoni leaders also demanded improvement of security in the country and expressed displeasure with government abandonment of the recommendations of the report of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) on the inauguration of the Ogoni Environment Restoration Agency
“Through the UNEP report, which you received on 12th August 2012, you may, by now, be aware of the extent of environmental devastation of Ogoni. Not only has the terrestrial and aquatic lives and soil suffered inestimable damage, the health of the people has been tragically affected by hydro-carbon pollution. Every Ogoni person is a potential cancer patient,” a part of the statement read.
“Tragic and catastrophic as the situation is, the Ogoni people are concerned by a protracted and near absence of a strategic response by the Federal Government to the findings of the report.
The Ogoni people are concerned that it took as long as one year for the Federal Government to respond to the report.”
The statement further noted that contrary to UNEP recommendation on the setting up of the Ogoni Environment Restoration Agency that is specific to Ogoni, the Federal Government has decided to establish a programme that is wider in scope to cover other areas experiencing hydro-carbon pollution. It expressed hope that the broad jurisdiction would not undermine the implementation of the UNEP report.
Other parts of the statement read, “Ogoni will appreciate receiving assurance from the Federal Government that the UNEP recommendation on Ogoni will be fully implemented regardless of intervention in other areas.
“The $1bn recommended by UNEP as start-up point for the Ogoni clean-up will be spent on Ogoni alone. The Ogoni people will be given priority in business and job opportunities connected to the clean-up in Ogoniland as a means of ameliorating poverty and joblessness in the area.
“The report will be implemented under the supervision of an internationally recognised agency that will exercise oversight and quality assurance responsibility. We have in mind, in this regard, the UNEP that prepared the report. There will be intensive health programme in Ogoni, including cancer screening and treatment to be undertaken by competent international agencies, such as WHO.
“Considering the irreversible devastation to the environment, health and livelihood of the Ogoni by the petroleum industry, as scientifically demonstrated in the UNEP report, the Ogoni people hereby ask for compensation from the Federal Government and from Shell. Justice delayed is justice denied. We, therefore, respectfully request that the issue of compensation be addressed without delay.
“Our people are of the strong view that the creation of Bori State is a necessity, which the Executive and the National Assembly should give its test to. Such a state will include other ethnic groups in the southeast senatorial district in Rivers State, and will also complement the national economy as the oil and gas resources of the area will enhance the national budget.”
Government officials at the meeting include Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senator Magnus Abbe, ministers of environment and Niger Delta affairs, minister of state for education, secretary to government of the federation (SGF), and the Paramount Ruler of Ogoni people and current chairman of Rivers State Traditional Rulers.

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