Stakeholders commend FG over water project in Ogoniland
Seek more projects in Niger Delta region
Stakeholders have commended the Federal Government for awarding N6 billion contracts for provision of potable water in Gokana, Khana, Eleme and Tai council areas of Ogoni in Rivers State.
They noted that government should also pursue audit intervention projects, tagged the emergency measures as contained in United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report to improve access to water, health facilities and livelihoods.
Director, Health of Mothers Earth Foundation, Nnimmo Bassey, said the award of contract for the rehabilitation of existing, but moribund water supply schemes in Ogoni was a welcome development.
He said: “Although it is coming late in the day, it is nevertheless a good move, we see it as a first step in the process towards providing comprehensive water supply to Ogoniland.
“More work needs to be done with regard to rebuilding livelihoods and investments and help must be based on needs assessment and should ensure full gender and youth inclusion.”
He argued that the water project was secondary to the cleanup programme, adding that livelihood programmes were nothing more than bandages over open sores if the environment remained damaged.
President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Fegal Nsuke, commended the President for the decision to commence the water project and demanded extension of the gesture to other communities of the Niger Delta that lacked potable water.
“The decision not only vindicates our long standing position of a fraudulent implementation of the UNEP report, but also confirms our position on corruption in the Ogoni cleanup project under the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP),” he said.
Also, Emem Okon of Kebetkache Women Development Centre said the UNEP report recommended emergency measures, which include provision of potable water in Ogoni communities.
Okon also noted, water in the area containing benzene 900 times above the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) required guidelines, saying, the government should conduct health study on the Ogoni.
“Our centre conducted the women’s livelihood needs assessment in Eleme, Gokana, Khana and Tai to promote women’s inclusion in livelihood decision making for sustainable development in Ogoni.”
A representative of African Centre for Leadership and Development, Lawal Amodu, said awarding the contract after five years of the commencement of Ogoni cleanup was not heartwarming in the real sense of it.
He lamented that Ogoni people had suffered for too long and could not afford further delay, especially with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that provision of water was one of the emergency measures UNEP recommended.