The Minister of Environment, Muhammed Abdullahi has cautioned Ogoni youths against re-pollution and bunkering in the area.
The Minister gave the warning during anti-bunkering, re-pollution sensitisation seminar and award of certificate to community workers in Basic Remediation Technics, Health Safety and Environment in Saakpewaa, headquarters of Tai, Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Abdullahi was represented by Prof. Philip Shokwolo, director, Technical services of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP). He said that the event was responding to one of the key remediation of United Nation Environment Programmes, UNEP, which anchored on campaign against oil bunkering and re-pollution in Ogoni land.
Shokwolo, who also represented Dr. Ferdinand Giadom, the Project Coordinator, explained that it was not enough to clean Ogoni but how to keep it clean is the priority of HYPREP and stakeholders, noting that the livelihood programme is key to reducing hunger, poverty and starvation as the Minister has increased the number of beneficiaries from five thousand to ten thousand.
He maintained that the training was not generic but in new areas of skills like the aviation industry, marine transport and mega-electronic, among others. “This is an opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills to add value in remediation work in any part of Niger Delta,” he said, while commending the Minister for his magnanimity on youth training.
Speaking at the event, the Keynote speaker Prof. Ben Naanen from the University of Port Harcourt narrated the genesis of UNEP Report and how evidence was given that the Ogoniland is polluted by oil exploration and exploitation over the years, but stressed that issue of illegal bunkering and stealing of oil has led to massive oil pollution.
“How do we prevent the re-pollution of the environment through oil theft as many highly placed security agencies and politicians are also involved,” he asked.
Andai Wai-Ogosu, who also spoke at the event, said that HYPREP should have a legal framework to be autonomous, because according to him, they have more robust community engagement.
He further suggested that the training should include decommissioning of oil facility in Ogoniland. In his contribution, a health specialist, Batom Ndegwe disclosed how oil bunkering has spread strange sicknesses leading to untimely death very often in Ogoni, while condemning oil theft in the area.
He told participants that oil pollution leads to cancer among others, while saying that very soon HYPREP will build specialist hospital that will take care of oil related sicknesses. In her remark, the Head of livelihood of HYPREP, Josephine Nzidee enumerated a lot skills available for youths, noting that HYPREP will also include education sponsorship as part of their program. Highlight of the event was presentation of certificate to community youths trained on remediation, health and safety.