OGONI Stakeholders have said that there must be a mutual peace among the leaders, youths and communities before any meaningful development could take place in the area. They said this at the ground- breaking ceremony of the Integrated Soil Management Centre The Chairman, Ogoni Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, King G.N.K. Giniwa, Gbenemene of Tai Kingdom, said there must be peace first before any progress could take place in Ogoni land. He said: “Today is another day in the history of Ogoni land. I want to specifically appeal to Ogoni people in Ogoni land to give peace a chance. We need peace; we must work together in harmony to achieve progress. Let the Federal government ensure that this dream come true. I’m the father of the Ogoni land, I know my people, if you give them something good, and they will appreciate it. This project must be taken with two hands and in doing that there must be peace. “ Speaking also, the President, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People,MOSOP, Comrade Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, who called for a minute silence for those who died in Ogoni struggle, also called for peace in the area. He said Ogoni people must be grateful that the Federal Government decided to make them happy. Pyagbara called on Ogoni people to work hard for the interest of peace and ensure that the project was successful. “First, we must be grateful, the Minister of environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, has done a great job in taking us this far. But we need to ensure peace; I want to challenge all Ogoni people that we must make sure this project did not fall. This is our project; its success would depend on the ability for mutual relationship, love and harmony among the communities, stakeholders and the youths of Ogoni land.” Secretary to the Rivers State government, SSG, Chief Kenneth Kobani, a son of the soil, who represented Governor Nyesom Wike, said despite the short notice to the governor, he was determined to see the success of the project and decided to donate the land to build the centre. The SSG said Ogoni people should count themselves lucky to be the first to receive Federal Government support on this project when Ogoni was not the first place where oil was discovered in the Niger Delta. “I want to appeal to my people; they should know that managing the expectations of the people is a problem of its own. And there is no way a project of this magnitude can be made over night, of course, UNEP report stated that it would take 20 to 30 years to succeed in what we are starting here today. I believe this exercise was long coming; if you recalled oil was not first discovered in Ogoni land but in
Olubiri in Bayelsa. So, we are indeed lucky and privileged people for receiving this amount of attention from the Federal Government. I will therefore appeal like other speakers in this event that the time for peace and development is now.” The National Coordinator, Ogoni Solidarity Forum,OSF, Celestine AkpoBari, said the people of Ogoni were excited about the clean-up. “We are excited because some people have already said the clean-up will not take place, what the minister is doing here today is a testimony that something is taking place here in Ogoni and for them to come and lay a foundation stone shows that something is happening and they are ready to go. The delay in the implementation is not deliberate, there are structures being put in place.
The minister is now the Deputy Secretary of the United Nation and she needs to put things in place before leaving. The only encouragement she needs from Ogoni people now is for us to maintain peace for the progress of this project.” Hajia Mohammed, who was accompanied by the Minister of State for Environment and other top senior officers of the ministry, said President Muhammadu Buhari was interested in the development of the Niger Delta. She said the Ogoni clean-up was part of President Buhari’s campaign promises to Ogoni people, adding that the project was not for sharing of money but investing money for the development of the area. The minister noted that the government would begin the clean-up with the training of 1,200 Ogoni women.
Mohammed said: “Calling for peace, to me, this is the greatest support you have given me and I will continue to look behind to cherish it. The development of Ogoni land is the priority of this administration started by President Buhari as one of his campaign promises. This is the recognition of the fight and struggle of injustice of Ogoni People. The issue of clean-up is not only for Ogoni people but for the rest of Niger Delta where oil exploration has impacted negatively to their environment. I know, you will be asking after now, what next? What we want to do is to start something that in the next five years, people will attest the government effort. In the next 20 years, we will restore Ogoni land to where it was years ago.


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