Reps reject one-minute honour for Ken Saro-Wiwa
Seek follow-up on Ogoni clean-up
Members of the House of Representatives yesterday kicked against a proposal by a member, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), to observe a minute silence for late environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, 22 years after he passed on.
Considering the motion by Chinda urging them to rise for a minute in respect of the late environment crusader, who was killed alongside eight others by the military government of late Sani Abacha on November 10, 1995, the lawmakers said it would be inappropriate to grant Saro-Wiwa the honour because his execution was ‘duly considered and endorsed by the government.’
They, however, agreed that 22 years after, the environmental situation in the Niger Delta, where the late environmentalist canvassed for enhancement, has not improved.
The lawmakers, therefore, urged the Federal Government to declare Ogoniland an ecological disaster zone and invest resources aimed at tackling the devastation in the area and the entire Niger Delta.
They also mandated the House Committees on Environment and Petroleum to follow up and monitor the implementation of the Ogoniland clean-up exercise.
A lawmaker, Benjamin Wayo (APC, Benue), said: “While I agree that the environmental situation in Niger Delta is pitiable, we have to be careful in adopting the prayer in the motion, calling for one-minute silence for the late environmentalist.
“Section 33 (1) of the Nigerian constitution says every person has right to life. It’s only permissible to be taken through constitutional means, just as it was done in this case.
“Therefore, it will be out of order to observe a minute silence for him (Saro-Wiwa) under this circumstance.”Also, Ali Madaki (APC, Kano), who supported the rejection of the motion, appealed to members to be wary in order not to breach procedures regarding government’s pronouncements.
But Onyemaechi Mrakpor (PDP, Delta) said observing one-minute silence for the late environmentalist or not does not change the narrative that the pollution and infrastructural decay in Niger Delta have not abated.
“As I speak, those things Ken Saro-Wiwa stood for are still there. Have they been addressed? Today, there is no clean water to drink in Niger Delta. Environmental pollution is still there. “I make bold to say that it’s not all about one minute silence. We should be concerned with enhancing the environment in the Niger Delta,” Mrakpor said.
However, earlier in his lead debate, Chinda articulated the contamination of the region based on the report of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and lamented that several years after the programme’s report was forwarded to the government for action, the government has been reluctant in considering and adopting it.
He said the latest intervention by the government on the Niger Delta situation, with the announcement of Ogoniland clean-up, was ‘cosmetic and mere window-dressing.’He, therefore, called on the House to prevail on the government to urgently address the deplorable conditions in the Niger Delta.
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