The Federal Government has taken a major step to address exposure to hydrocarbon.
FG said it would carry out a health audit of the Ogoni people in Rivers State. This is to observe the effect of prolonged exposure to hydrocarbon on them.
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The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor made this known.
Ikeazor disclosed this in a one-day stakeholder engagement programme. The programme was held in the clean-up of Ogoni land held in Bori, Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
She said this audit would help prepare for whatever interventions.
“We will carry out a health audit of Ogoni people. This is to ascertain the effect of prolonged exposure to hydrocarbon on the people. In order to determine the kind of interventions that need to be done,” the Minister stated.
Ikeazor appealed with all stakeholders to collaborate for a successful cleanup. She also vowed to continue to engage the people of Ogoni and their communities.
“You call it security but I call it environmental surveillance. So, we are going to engage Ogoni youths on environmental surveillance, to protect all the sites we’re cleaning.
“No one can protect the sites more than the people. The more we have our young people securing these sites, the better for us.
“For advertisements of contracts, I have made sure that due process will be followed. The bids will be open to all qualified Nigerians.
“We might have to look at other sites that are contaminated so that once we finished the clean-up, we know that we have finished everything, not just cleaning the polluted sites that are under our scope, while there are still other areas that are contaminated.
“My goal is to ensure that the clean-up project is owned by the Ogoni people and that more indigenous people acquire the required skills and ability to participate in this clean-up,” she added.
Ikeazor said advertisement for setting up the integrated soil contamination centre will start. She revealed that permission has been given to the Project Coordinator for this.
“I hope it will come up in the next one year,” she added.
The Project clean-up coordinator of HYPREP, Prof. Philip Shekwolo listed some achievements of the project. To list a few they are:
- Provision of portable water.
- Livelihood training.
Traditional rulers called for building a University of Environment in Ogoni. The Chairman of Ogoni Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Godwin Gininwa disclosed this.
According to the UNEP report, this University would serve as the Centre of Excellence.
King Giniwa also requested for hastening the pace of the ongoing clean-up exercise.
Former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) Ledum Mitee, spoke of the employment of youths.
“Money spent on security should be channeled into youth employment. Ogoni youths should be employed to secure HYPREP project sites,” Mitee said.
Source: PUNCH HealthWise