Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor while addressing community leaders, youths, women groups and other stakeholders in Ogoni at a forum held in Bori, the Council Headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers state promised to address the concerns raised by the Ogoni community about the ongoing environmental remediation of oil impacted sites in the area being carried out by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).
Ikeazor explained that the essence of the meeting was to interact with them to find out the areas of the project they think needed improvement to better deliver on the mandate of the project and not the usual reading of prepared speeches.
“I would like to hear from you, and I will respond and tell you what we have planned for the Ogoniland clean-up project.
“I know we are behind schedule in some key areas, and I appreciate the concerns you raised here today about the project as this will help us to work together to fast track the process taking into consideration benefits to the communities.”
Ikeazor added that the youths will be engaged as Environmental Surveillance Officers. “We want to work with the youths and women groups to acquire the skills and be empowered for sustainable living so that we would not be doing this over and over again.”
Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Prof. Philip Shekwolo in his opening remarks briefed the stakeholders on the achievements of the project in the areas of remediation, provision of potable water, and livelihood training programs, among others.
In his submission, His Royal Majesty, King Godwin N. K. Gininwa the Gbenemene of Tai Kingdom said, though HYPREP is not for only Ogoni, Ogoni people should be considered first before other communities as they have suffered so much degradation in their land.
The monarch appealed to the Federal Government to commence work on the proposed University of Environment to be sited in Ogoni land as it will assist in educating and training the people and put them in a better position to assist the community in managing the environment.