According to Dr. Marvin Dekil coordinator for Ogoni Clean-up of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), the Federal Government would soon deploy troops to Ogoniland to curtail illegal activities of artisanal refiners and pipeline vandals whose actions are inimical to the environment.
Dekil stated this when the United States (U.S.) Envoy to Nigeria, Williams Stuart Symington, visited him at his office in Port Harcourt yesterday.According to him, the measure was to ensure that the cleaned up sites are not re-polluted.
He said $10 million had been released by the Federal Government as take-off fund to the clean up process and that $1 billion would be spent in the next five years on the clean-up of contaminated sites.
The co-ordinator said that HYPREP had recently held a meeting with those involved in illegal artisanal refining of petroleum products in Ogoni area to enlighten on the adverse implication of their activities to the environment.
He said HYPREP had offered to provide them alternative training for new skills so that they could discontinue their illicit activities. Dekil stated that HYPREP, in collaboration with Shell, the Rivers State government and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), are making concerted efforts to restore water facilities in Ogoniland to provide the people access to potable drinking water as recommended by UNEP in its report.
Meanwhile, Symington has expressed concern over the declining security situation in Ogoniland in Rivers State.He, however, called on the Federal Government to prioritise security in Ogoniland to enable it fast-track the clean-up exercise, as poor security may hamper the processes.
The envoy, who spoke shortly after a meeting with stakeholders of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) in Port Harcourt, said government should empower Nigerians, particularly the Ogoni, to generate peace and security in the land and as well improve the living standard of the people.In another development, the MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara, said that the delay in tackling security challenges in Ogoni affected the clean-up of Ogoniland.
Pyagbara said that the present state government had been able to deal with the insecurity in Ogoniland by granting amnesty to repentant cultists and militants, but, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the amnesty programme, saying that the repentant militants have not been re-integrated and rehabilitated, an exercise which risks being counter-productive.