REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, NYESOM EZENWO WIKE, CON, GOVERNOR OF RIVERS STATE AT THE LAUNCH OF THE CLEAN-UP OF OGONILAND AND OTHER OIL IMPACTED COMMUNITIES IN THE NIGER DELTA AT BODO CITY, RIVERS STATE ON THURSDAY 2ND JUNE 2016
It is my honour and privilege to welcome the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and his highly distinguished entourage to Rivers State to formally launch the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report and the Clean-Up of Ogoniland and other oil impacted communities in the Niger Delta.
- For decades, the entire Niger Delta has been subjected to the worst forms of environmental degradation ever experienced by mankind in this part of the world. Millions of barrels of oil have been spilled into the environment by companies exploiting and extracting hydrocarbons from the area with severe consequences to the ecosystem, including wildlife, marine habitations, soil and water quality and human health.
- Despite continuing protests by the people, the environmental degradation of the Niger Delta has not stopped. Oil spills continue to occur with distressing regularity even in Ogoniland, where oil exploitation had since 1993 ceased.
- As the UNEP Report starkly reveals, the degree of environmental damage in the Niger Delta has been so deep and expansive that it would take several decades to carry out full remediation of impacted sites.
- The UNEP report, which is the precursor to today’s event, is significant for at least, two reasons. First, it presents the best available and factually detailed documentation of the scale of the existing and continuing damage to the entire Ogoni environment and by extension, the Niger Delta
- Second and most significantly, it presents a clear roadmap on the priorities for action by government, stakeholders and the international community in terms of clean-up, remediation and restoration of the damage that has accumulated over the years.
- For us as a people and the direct victims of the most brazen forms of environmental abuse, today is a watershed in our collective struggle for environmental justice from the Nigerian nation and the world community.
- We therefore welcome this initiative wholeheartedly as shown by our enthusiastic presence, believing that the recommendations of UNEP will be systematically executed. This is because, we believe, that only environmental justice would restore sustainable peace, stability and socio-economic progress in the Niger Delta.
- We are therefore commend Mr. President’s determination to close this ugly chapter in our country’s history. Although this has taken long in coming; it is never too late when it comes to the environment. Therefore, Mr. President Sir, your presence in Ogoniland today is a testimonial of the long awaited clean-up and remediation exercises of the Niger Delta polluted environment.
- We appreciate and most sincerely thank Your Excellency for this bold initiative. We commend Mr. President for the work you are doing generally to stamp out corruption, stabilize our economy and make Nigeria a nation where no man is oppressed. May God give you the enablement to surmount these challenges.
- We thank all our stakeholders, including our international friends, who have sustained the struggle and advocacy to preserve our environment for the succeeding generations.
- Finally, we acknowledge that this is a federal initiative. The direct impact is borne by our people. We therefore urge all our stakeholders to embrace and support this Federal Government gesture and ensure a hitch-free exercise.
- On our part, the Rivers State Government will ever be willing to provide the platform for a smooth achievement of this long awaited intervention.
- May God bless Rivers State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.