President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Ogoni leaders to sensitise indigenes on the value of protecting pipelines, oil installations, and all national assets within the area.
Receiving some leaders and people of Ogoniland at the State House, the President warned that wilful damages of such facilities usually create more havoc on their environment and hamper development in the area.
He gave the assurance that the Federal Government was committed to the cleaning up of Ogoniland to allow indigenes regain their lives, return to farms, and re-activate economic activities.
The President said his administration had placed the rehabilitation of the Niger-Delta as a top priority, and had committed a lot of resources to tackle existing problems, including launching a US One Billion dollar oil clean-up exercise to reverse the terrible damage and restore the ecosystem.
The President said bad industry practices coupled with security challenges had resulted in massive spills with attendant environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to agitations and strife.
He said the government would bring to a close all pending issues on Ogoniland, saying he has noted the need to ensure completion of the segment of the east-west road traversing Ogoniland.
President Buhari said the government was committed to ensuring clemency and national integration as part of this administration’s bid to lay a foundation for genuine reconciliation and bring closure to the issues of Ogoniland.
He said the unfortunate incidents of the early 1990s, leading to the loss of lives of distinguished sons of Ogoniland and the collateral judicial processes were still memorable.
The President however reiterated that despite the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government would consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga.
According to the President, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd has been granted license to operate OML11, which will stimulate economic activities and integration in the zone.
He directed NNPC to engage host communities, particularly Ogoni people, to ensure inclusive processes of oil and gas exploration and production were anchored on optimum involvement of host communities.
President Buhari said he was aware of the passage of the Bill on the Federal University of Environmental Technology by the National Assembly, saying that he is awaiting transmission for necessary action.
The President also appreciated the leaders for their recognition of the Federal Government’s efforts to clean up the area and stimulate more economic activities.
President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, King Godwin Giniwa, thanked President Buhari for the various interventions in the area, particularly on the clean-up of the environment.
The paramount ruler emphasised that his people believed in the unity of Nigeria, noting that the future of every group could only be guaranteed in one nation.
He congratulated the President for achievements in critical infrastructure in the country, especially in railways and road constructions, urging more efforts in the provision of potable water.