Youths of Ogoni communities have vowed to continue to defend the Ogoni environment as a means to improve on the ideals championed by their heros past.

President of Ogoni Youths Federation (OYF), Worldwide, Comrade LEGBORSI YAMAABANA said this during a press briefing in Port Harcourt.

LEGBORSI YAMAABANA recounted activities of the past heros of Ogoni extraction 32 years ago, that led to what is today known as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, of which, the Federal Government ought to clean up he Ogoni environment.

He said: “Recall that in August 1990, (32 Years ago) our fathers led by KEN SARO-WIWA, after taking stock of the deplorable condition of the Ogoni people, in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in spite of stupendous oil and gas wealth, articulated the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR), which dealt with matters ranging from social, political, economic to environmental injustice in Ogoniland and presented it to the Federal Military Government.

“One of the cardinal demands of the OBR was the right to protect the Ogoni environment and ecology from further degradation”.

Speaking further, YAMAABANA said that: “The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) was established by Federal Ministry of Environment Notice 2016, Gazette NO. 176, Vol.103. The 1st Governing Council and Board of Trustees of HYPREP were inaugurated in August 2016 and the 2nd in March 2021 and charged with the responsibility to manage, approve, supervise and monitor all projects/contracts of the Clean-up and remediation of Ogoniland as well as implement all aspects of the UNEP Report”.

He regretted that: “The neglect of these demands led to the massive protest of January 4, 1993, shut-in of oil and gas exploration and production in Ogoniland by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria and its Joint Venture Partners, the consequent military clamp-down of Ogoniland, which resulted to the murder of over 2000 Ogoni people and leaders; including KEN SARO-WIWA and 12 others.

“In response to the global outcry and condemnation of the military repression of Ogoniland by the General SANI ABACHA led Federal Military Government of Nigeria and accusations of Royal Dutch Shell’s complicity, the United Nations created a Special Rapporteur on Nigeria in 1997 led by Mr. SOLI SORABJEE, an Indian Attorney, who presented his report to the 48th session of the then United Nations Commission on Human Rights in March 1998 and recommended that the Nigerian government should undertake an independent environmental study of Ogoniland.

“In October 2006, former President OLUSEGUN OBASANJO invited the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), for an environmental assessment of Ogoniland, in an attempt to navigate from years of stalemate between the Nigerian Government, International Oil Companies and the Ogoni people to action.

“The assessment was done between 2008 and 2011. After the release of the UNEP Report on August 4, 2011 (this Thursday shall make it 11 years), the oil companies admitted liability for damage caused in Ogoniland, and agreed to initial commitment to clean up.

“This development brought about a major scientific and technological leap in the environmental audit of the Niger Delta and Nigeria”.

In a text titled “Ogoni Youths Position On Purported Transfer Of The Ogoni Clean-Up Project From The Federal Ministry Of Environment To The Ministry Of Niger Delta Affairs” and read to Journalists, LEGBORSI YAMAABANA clarified that Ogoni youths preferred the Ministry of Environment to handle the Ogoni clean-up project.

He argued that transferring the project to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs would amount to colossal waste of time, as the Ministry has over time shown signs of ineptitude.

According to him: “The Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), as an umbrella organization of Ogoni youths and youth groups operating in Ogoniland of the Niger Delta, centered on advocacy for good governance, social justice, economic interventions, communal cooperation and environmental protection; is poised to uphold the Ogoni name and people from extinction.

“OYF rejects the purported transfer of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), the agency saddled with the Ogoni Clean-up from the Federal Ministry of Environment to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.

“Ogoni Youths will vehemently resist any attempt to move HYPREP from the Ministry of Environment that has experienced environmental professionals, who are knowledgeable in environmental issues to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, which is naive in issues pertaining and relating to the environment.

“We therefore, state without equivocation that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA), which was neither able to construct a mere 15-kilometer, East-West Road Section III, Eleme Junction-Onne, which connects Ogoniland and major national oil and gas assets, nor sorted the plethora of issues surrounding the Management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in the past 3 years, cannot handle the highly scientific, gazetted and internationalized Ogoni Clean-up Project”.

While passing a vote of confidence on the Minister for Environment, ABDULLAHI MOHAMMED and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) by Dr. FERDINAND GIADOM to meet up the new timelines set for delivery of the Ogoni clean-up project, LEGBORSI YAMAABANA stated clearly that the youths of Ogoni are sad at the negligence and deceit thus far, on the issues of continual delay of the construction of the East-West Road, by the Niger Delta Ministry and the Federal Ministry of Works, exactly one year after Ogoni people occupied the road in protest over its dilapidation.

He said: “We are currently consulting with the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association (PTD) of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), to seek appropriate measures of action”.

Although, he said the news of the purported transfer of the project execution has been refuted, he appealed to President BUHARI to clear the air at the next Federal Executive Council Meeting.

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