Don’t Politicise Alternative Livelihood Scheme For Ogoni Women, Youths- Gov Wike
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has advised the Federal Government not to politicize the implementation of the alternative livelihood component of the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) recommendations on the Ogoni clean-up.
He said the Rivers State is ready to partner with the Federal Ministry of Environment and Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) to improve the living condition of the Ogoni people after years of environmental degradation.
Governor Wike stated this during a courtesy call by the Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Mahmood Abukabar, and new members of HYPREP board of trustees at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Monday.
In furtherance to the implementation of the recommendations contained in the UNEP report for alternative livelihood for Ogoni women who are to be trained in agribusiness at Songhai farms in Rivers State, the governor suggested that the Federal Government should ensure that those scheduled for the training are truly indigenes of Ogoni.
The Rivers State governor said the inclusion of names of persons who are not indigenes of Eleme, Tai, Gokana, and Khana Local Government Areas of the State, will not be in the interest of the Ogoni people who have suffered decades of environmental pollution.
Speaking on the roll of 5000 needs assessment forms distributed across Ogoni, the governor urged the Federal Government and particularly members of the HYPREP board who are of Ogoni extraction to ensure the scheme is not politicized.
“Empowering 5000 youths from 4 Local government areas is not easy. So there should be a way to cross-check these names whether they’re really from the area. Everything should not be politicized.”
Governor Wike advised the Federal government to prioritize the award of clean-up contracts to competent Ogoni contractors as a means of empowering them and boosting the local economy of the four impacted councils contained in the UNEP Report.
“Whatever support you think the State can render, I will partner with you because at the end of the day it is in the interest of our people.”
The governor said the State government is not aware of the Federal Government’s intention to rehabilitate some state-owned existing water supply facilities in Alesa, Bori and Terrabo sites to provide water to Ogoniland.
The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abukabar, explained he was in the State for the flag-off six water supply project sites in Ogoni owned by the State government for the purpose of providing potable water to Ogoni communities.
“We have chosen to join the world on this special day to flag off the water scheme in Ogoni. The handover of the six (6) contracts today, is the first phase of our water provision program. The second phase that will soon follow, will be the construction of eight (8) new water schemes to other communities not captured in phase 1. This again is another opportunity that will create more jobs and increase economic activities in the communities.”
The minister explained that in order to improve people’s livelihood and discourage the youths from engaging in criminal activities such as illegal refining, the Federal Government has launched a scheme to empower 5000 youths in Ogoni.