Ogonis in South Africa, under the auspices of Ogoni Solidarity Forum, OSF, have described the steps taken so far by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration since August 2015 to implement the UNEP recommended clean-up of Ogoni environment as slow and a contrast to the president’s promise to fast-track the exercise.
A statement signed by the International Coordinator of OSF in South Africa, Pastor Barry Wuganaale, said Ogonis in that country wished the plans to commence the implementation of the UNEP report as recently announced by the Minister of Environment, Hajia Amina Mohammed, would not amount to “a public relations gimmick or political rhetoric devoid of any action as it has been in the past”.
Wuganaale, in the statement, also urged all Ogoni to focus on how to maximise the opportunity the implementation of the UNEP report would provide.
According to the statement, “The leadership and members of OSF, South Africa, are concerned that the steps taken by government to realise the process of implementing the clean-up since the announcement by President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2015; had been ominously slow and a contrast of conventional understanding of a Nigerian president’s order to fast-track the planned exercise.
“OSF South Africa notes with interest the pronouncement by the Honourable Minister of Environment, Hajia Amina Mohammed, in Bori, on the 4th of March, 2016, that the Nigerian government will ensure the UNEP recommended process kicks off in a few weeks.
“OSF South Africa sincerely prays that the pronouncement by the Honourable Minister should not be a public relations gimmick or political rhetoric devoid of any action as in the past.
“OSF South Africa calls on the Honourable Minister and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to note that environmental degradation of the Ogoni environment has had severe and dangerous impact on the livelihood of ordinary Ogoni people”.
It noted that Ogoni farmers and fishermen and women have suffered untold hardship, hence, the remediation of Ogoni environment and restoration of livelihood should not be used as an instrument “for bragging right, media attention and/or cheap politicking”, adding that if this were the case, it would “amount to insensitivity to an issue that borders on genocide and ethnocide”.
The statement further stated: “As the OSF South Africa, we are still keenly observing this administration, but, we are willing to join other Ogoni people to give the administration an opportunity to redress the perennial and engrained environmental and economic injustices unleashed upon the Ogoni ethnic nationality by Nigerian nation state and Shell since 1958.
“We therefore, call on the government to make good their promise made in Bori on the 4th of March by announcing a constituted Board of Trustees and the Governing Council that will facilitate the process of implementation of the UNEP recommendation before the end of the first quarter of 2016.”