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Abe tackles senator over alleged derogatory remarks against Ogoni kinsmen

By Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt) and Cornelius Essen (Abuja)
01 February 2022   |   4:10 am
Former representative of Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, has asked Senator Bennett Birabi to treat his fellow Ogonis with respect and stop going to the public space...

[FILES] Senator Magnus Abe

• FG to clean up 314 acres of Ogoniland, says Ikeazor

Former representative of Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, has asked Senator Bennett Birabi to treat his fellow Ogonis with respect and stop going to the public space with derogatory remarks against them.

Abe stated this yesterday on his social media handle. He described the alleged derogatory reference to Ogonis by Birabi, who is also an of Ogoni indigene, as too painful to ignore and wondered why Birabi would describe the Ogoni, who served in the Rivers State government or support the governors as “minions.”

The statement reads in part: “My attention has been drawn to a public statement issued by Senator Bennett Birabi on the marginalization of the Ogoni people in the politics of Rivers State.

“Due to the reverred position that Senator Birabi holds in Ogoniland, not just as the son of the late Paul Birabi, but also as the oldest living Senator from Ogoniland, it has been painfully difficult for me to publicly disagree with the senator.

“It is even more difficult when the main subject of the senator’s statement is the political marginalisation of the Ogoni people, a subject on which all Ogoni people are united and in agreement. However, carefully reading through the senator’s statement, you find some poisonous barbs that are impossible to ignore.”

Abe stated that Birabi, making reference to various Rivers governments, described the Ogoni people that served as minions.

“In describing the Ogoni, who served in Rivers State government or supported the governors as “minions,” is the senator genuinely promoting any of them for higher office? I think not.

“Secondly, the distinguished senator went forward to say that he sometimes feels that Governor Wike hates the Ogoni people. For a father who is trying to collect something from somebody for his children, are you really helping your children if you go to the man from whom you seek help to accuse him of hatred for your family even before the decision is taken, especially in the light of Senator Birabi’s own statement that the government decides everything for the Ogoni People,” he said.

Rather than confrontation he said the Ogoni people need, more than ever before, goodwill from Rivers people across the spectrum, advising that their words and actions should promote friendship and love across board, within and outside Ogoni “if we really want the integration of the Ogoni people.”

MEANWHILE, the Federal Government has concluded arrangements to remediate a total volume of 5,354,766 cubic meters of contaminated land covering about 314 acres, as part of the Ogoni cleanup project.

In addition, the govt will soon open bidding for additional 37 hydrocarbons impacted sites in the area. The Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, who stated this during ministerial press briefing in Abuja, said the priorities were contaminated soil remediation, sustainable livelihood, and potable water supply.

Ikeazor said: “The impacts of the remediation effort have produced remarkable employment and livelihood opportunities among Ogoni youths. So far, a total of 1,337 persons have been trained, employed, and are earning income.

“In line with the UNEP recommendations, our drive to accelerate the provision of potable water to hydrocarbon-impacted communities in Ogoniland is gradually achieving results. Contractors are mobilised to six sites already.”

Ikeazor stated that the procurement process for the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration along with an Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre has begun in line with UNEP recommendation.

On the Climate Change Act, she disclosed that Climate Change Fund would be set up to help Nigeria address issues of adaptation, loss and damage, innovations to reduce GHG emissions, development of technology for renewable energy and transition to a green economy, among others.

“As part of efforts to ensure the country meets its target of attaining net zero by 2060, the Act provides for the phenomenon of carbon budgeting which will be set in a five-yearly cycle with yearly targets assigned to private and public entities.”

Since one of the country’s greatest means of balancing emissions is the provision of carbon sinks and biodiversity preservation, the Act makes a case for the exploration of nature-based solutions, she remarked.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Hassan Musa said they focused on evolving innovative strategies that emphasised the use of environmental re-engineering as a veritable tool for poverty eradication, food security, and sustainable economic development.