Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday flagged-off the clean-up exercise for Ogoni land and other communities in the Niger Delta with a warning to oil and pipeline vandals to keep off installations or face the wrath of the federal government.
The clean-up was recommended by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in its report in 2011.
Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event in Bodo city, Gokana LGA of Rivers State, said oil vandalism and illegal refining were acts of economic sabotage that despoiled the environment, warning that oil theft and illegal refining would no longer be tolerated.
Osibanjo said the present administration was laying a foundation for change, stressing that the law would be applied on anyone that violates it.
He said the clean-up was also in fulfilment of the electoral campaign promise made to people of the area. He said former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, initiated the UNEP report which was inherited by the Goodluck Jonathan administration but was not implemented until the present administration came to power.
“Today is historic in Ogoni and all the neighbouring communities of Niger Delta. What we are witnessing today is a restoration of health, wealth, environment and families of the Ogoni people. Today marks another milestone in our administration.
The degradation caused by oil pollution has caused a huge damage to the environment,” he said.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, commended President Buhari for implementing the report and promised that the state government would provide the platform for the success of the project.
The Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner, said the UN would stand with the Nigerian government to ensure implementation of the report. The event was attended by the ministers of transportation, defence, budget and economic planning and information among other dignitaries
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