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Cleanup of Ogoni, other polluted areas shouldn’t last for eternity, ex-minister cautions

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Former Minster of Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Mailafia, has said the cleaning up of Ogoniland in Rivers State, Nanka in Anambra and other polluted places should not continue for eternity.

She made the remarks at the 13th meeting of the National Council of Environment (NCE) in Kaduna.

The Guardian recalled that the cleanup of Ogoniland has been lingering due to negligence from the Federal Government and almost eight years after the receipt of the technical report prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the instance of the Federal Government.

Mailafia, in her remarks, urged the Federal Government and the Ministry of Environment, in particular, to tie its activities to a timeframe, saying, “Works should not continue for eternity. There must be a starting point and there must be a goal.

“Say by the year X or by the month Y, you would have achieved something. The environment ministries are very important, but the quality of personnel in them will determine the standing.”

She went on: “The world is interested in what we would call the 3Es – Education, Energy, and Environment.

“The issues of pollutions, erosions are across the country from Nanka in Anambra State right to Zamfara State. It is real, and so are the issues of climate change.”

In his opening address, the Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar, said the event, with the theme, “Promoting Environmental Advocacy for Sustainable Development: A panacea For Achieving The Next Level Agenda”, is in tandem with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s desire to turn the economy around for good.

He called on the private sector to seize the opportunity and invest in waste management, watershed management, renewable energy eco-tourism, green bond as well as encourage the implementation of the UNEP report for the remediation of Ogoniland and other efforts to remedy tainted places in other states.

The minister reiterated the commitment of the ministry in achieving the target of planting 25 million trees as pledged by the president at the just concluded United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) through massive afforestation and collaboration with state governments and other critical stakeholders.

He said: “In spite of numerous challenges, this government has demonstrated the political will and true commitment in reviving the ‘Nigeria Project’ by dealing with immediate and pressing issues of improving security, tackling corruption and revitalising the national economy.

“It is in the light of this that the government has to come up with a clear path, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERPG) 2017-2020. Pursuant to the objective of the ERPG plan in the environment sector, our discussions and deliberations will revolve around the objectives which the present administration has set to achieve for the nation.”

Abubakar added: “ I wish to admonish our distinguished delegates to be guided by the spirit of nationalism and remain objective in considering the merits or otherwise of submitted council memoranda by applying the appropriate criteria as it relates to the ERPG set targets.”


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