Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw $500 million from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to facilitate the clean-up of the impacted Ogoni environment, Independent report.
Wike who made the appeal in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, at the weekend, regretted that despite the effort of the Niger Delta region to sustain the country economically, it has never been given the priority to survive.
He said, “While we support the fight against insurgency, nothing is worse than environmental pollution. We suffer because we are allowing Nigeria to survive. We are suffering for Nigeria to survive. It is through our oil that Nigeria is surviving.
“We are dying because we are keeping the country alive. Nobody wants to give us the attention required. These people who are suffering because of the nation’s survival, why not give them priority to survive? “
He urged the Federal Government to withdraw funds from the Excess Crude Account to address the environmental challenges in Ogoni land.
The governor said it should be done in the same manner that funds were withdrawn to tackle insurgency.
“They took $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account to fight insurgency. I say they should take $500 million from the Excess Crude Accounts for the Ogoni clean-up exercise,” he said.
Governor Wike stated this when he received in audience Alhaji Suleiman Hassan Zarma, the Minister of Environment, in Government House, Port Harcourt.
He assured the Federal Ministry of Environment of the support of the Rivers State Government to achieve the goals of remediation of the Ogoni environment.
“If you had told me earlier that you were coming, I would have provided a helicopter for you to fly over Ogoni land. You will weep at the level of environmental damage,” the governor said.
Wike regretted that the Ogoni Clean-up Exercise had been politicised, pointing out that the Ministry of Environment was handing over sites to contractors three years after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo flagged off the exercise.
He said the two activities took place as elections approached.
“Three years ago, the President represented by the Vice President flagged off the clean-up during the rerun elections. One month to the general elections, the Minister of Environment has come to hand over the sites.”
“If I tell you I believe sincerely that you people want to clean up Ogoni land, I am telling you a lie. Surprise me and prove me wrong,” he said.
In his remarks, Suleiman Hassan Zarma, the Minister of Environment, assured that the ministry working with HYPREP would ensure that the clean-up of Ogoni land is carried out.
“We are here to set the tone to enable the foundation laying of a robust inter-governmental collaboration which you have been doing especially in the environmental sector,” he said.
He informed the Rivers State governor that he was in the state to commence the handover of sites for the commencement of the clean-up exercise.
Speaking earlier at Eleme, the project coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Malvin Dekil, expressed satisfaction on the Federal Government’s commitment and assured that the projects would be delivered as planned.
He promised that the land would be restored to its previous use at the end of the clean-up exercise, saying that the remediation process was expected to last for the period of six months while the supervision would run for one year.