The Federal Government has assured Nigerians that the clean-up of the Niger Delta, beginning from Ogoniland in Rivers State, will not stop until it is completed.
It stated that it had put in place adequate measures that would ensure the sustenance of the clean-up exercise in the region and urged residents of the affected areas to support the government as the programme begins.
The Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, who made this disclosure on Tuesday, noted that aside the fact that there was already a $1bn commitment for the programme, some other government agencies and international oil companies would be involved in providing funds for the cleaning of the Niger Delta.
On how the government intends to continuously provide funds for the sustenance of the clean-up exercise which, according to experts, would last for several years, the minister said, “I doubt that the work will stop. I think first and foremost, the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle is up and doing and oil companies are paying for what they do.
“In this particular case, there’s been a commitment of $1bn and the governance structure that we are putting in place involves the governing council, which will determine the programme and how the road map is being implemented. But then, there is also a board of trustees where a trust fund for that money will be put and we hope to have fund managers who can begin to leverage that.
“Investors in the Niger Delta abound by a number of agencies. The Ministry of Niger Delta has a budget and they are part of this. Therefore, we look forward to ensure that we are working in the same direction. And aside from cleaning up the area, we will be looking at making it economically buoyant through diversification.”
She said, “We can clean up the polluted fish ponds and the soil in Ogoni, but we’ve got to have buy-ins from the community to want to protect their environment and to see good things come out of it. Ogoniland is going to be our starting point, but the rest of the Niger Delta is also polluted in heavy ways, perhaps even more than Ogoniland.”