Senate probes $1b Ogoni clean up

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    The Senate yesterday mandated its committee on environment to investigate the implementation of the Ogoni Cleanup.

    The Federal Government launched the project in June last year with initial cost of $1 billion.

    Apart from investigating the Ogoni Cleanup, the committee was also asked to assess the progress of the Great Green Wall programme initiated to control desertification.

    The resolutions followed a motion on “World Environment Day” sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) and members of her committee.

    Senator Tinubu is worried that despite the launch of the Ogoni Cleanup Campaign, the work had not started.

    Senator Magnus Abe also told the Senate that there was nothing on the ground to show that the Ogoni Cleanup  is a government priority.

    Senator Abe an Ogboni from Rivers South East) said the country should review some of its practices in the interest of environmental regeneration.

    Senator Tinubu, in her lead debate, noted that the 5th June World Environment Day was set aside to create awareness for environmental issues and protection of the environment.

    She noted that the theme for this year’s World Environment is “Connecting People to Nature”, in celebration of nature’s beauty and man’s dependence on nature for his wellbeing.

    She observed that the Sustainable Development Goals include ensuring clean water and sustainable hygiene, sustainable urban development, sustainable consumption through increased use of natural resources and reduction of toxic materials, combating climate change and its adverse effects, conservation of aquatic resources and preservation of terrestrial biodiversity.

    The Lagos Central lawmaker said in the light of the country’s environmental issues, such as gully erosion in Eastern Nigeria, desertification in the North and large scale environmental degradation in the oil rich South-South, illegal mining, uncontrolled and excavation of laterites, there was a need to be proactive in addressing them.

    She expressed concern that unmitigated environmental issues had widespread effects on the economy, health and social wellbeing of the people.

    The lawmaker also expressed concern that women and children suffered more from the effects of environmental issues.

    She noted that school curriculum fail to teach children at a young age the impact of their actions and their civic duty to the environment.

    Tomorrow’s leaders, Senator Tinubu said, ought to be equipped with how to deal with challenges.

    Senator Tinubu reiterated that the environment is being held in trust for unborn generations and must be kept in pristine condition.

    She spoke about the absence of clear framework and institutional actions to counter climate change and its effects and the Implementation of the Paris Agreement (COP21) and COP 22 in the light of the withdrawal of the United States.

    Senator Tinubu’s six prayers include to:

    • call on governments at all levels to create a feasible framework for realization of the protection environment under the sustainable development goals;
    • urge the Ministry of Environment to create awareness and sensitise Nigerians to environmental issues with a view to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the citizenry, and to
    • urge the Federal and state ministries of Education to include Environmental Studies in the curriculum  of schools. They were unanimously adopted.

    Other prayers that were also adopted are to accelerate the passage of the Erosion Prevention and Control Bill 2017 and other environment protection Bills, to mandate the Ministry of Environment and relevant agencies to create the framework to stop and prevent further deforestation and degradation, and for replacement of lost vegetative cover and to mandate the ministry to create a sustainable and viable framework to counter climate change and its effects.

    Senate President Bukola Saraki asked the committee to look closely at Ogoni Cleanup.

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