By Ebi Perekeme
The Federal Government, on Monday, inaugurated the construction of six water projects worth N6 billion, in Ogoni communities in Rivers, as recommended by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, said at the ceremony that the federal government was fully committed to actualising the UNEP recommendation that potable water should be provided to Ogoni communities, ravaged by decades-long oil spillage
He said the projects being executed under phase one, consist of the construction of six water facilities in Ogoni communities at the cost of N6 billion.
“The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on March 3, approved the award of the six water projects for the supply of potable water.
“Though the project is coming late, but it is commendable as it ignites hope in the people of Ogoni that the long awaited potable water is here.
“Aside the six water projects, very soon, we will also be rolling out additional eight water projects for the people of Ogoni, across the four local government areas,” he said.
Abubakar, who said that the implementation of the UNEP Report was a promise made by President Buhari in 2016, assured that the President was passionate about the full implementation of the UNEP report.
“Therefore, when I presented the water supply contract to President Buhari to sign, at the FEC meeting in March, he had no problem approving the contract.
“Usually, politicians will talk but many of them do not walk the talk.
“President Buhari is a politician who loves the people he is leading and has been walking the talk since 2016, when the Ogoni project was first inaugurated,” he said.
The Minister said the six water projects would be sited at Bori, Khana Local Government Area (LGA) and Baraku, Bdere and Kdere water scheme in Gokana LGA.
Other projects are the Tereb water scheme in Gokona LGA; Korokoro in Tai LGA and Aleto and Ibubu water scheme in Eleme local government area.
He also announced the roll out of the Needs Assessment Fund for 5,000 indigent Ogonis, to be distributed across the four local government areas that make up Ogoniland.
“This fund will help identify appropriate skills for the youth, women and men in Ogoniland for the provision of alternative livelihoods, which is also part of the UNEP Report.
“Aside this, we have earlier awarded 57 lots with 16 remediated; six certified and closed out as remediation sites while the remaining are at various stages of progress.
“Also, we have commenced the training of 400 Ogoni women in Africa Business at the Songhai Farm, in collaboration with the Rivers state government,” he said.
In his address of welcome, Philip Shekwolo, the UNEP Coordinator overseeing the office of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), assured that the contractors would deliver the projects in record time.
He further assured that the project would be built to its specifications, while funding for the project would be handled by the Board of Trustees, for transparency and accountability.
“So, going by the commitment shown by the Federal Government, it is important to protect our oil facilities and allow the crude oil to remain inside the pipes and tanks,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Emmanuel Amadimisu, Director in charge of water supply, Rivers Ministry of Water Resources, described the project as the ‘state’s baby’ and commended the Federal Government for it.