Buhari shuns Ogoni clean up amid hostilities from militants, VP Osinbajo flags off exercise
President Muhammadu Buhari did a ‘no show’ for the much-anticipated historical flag-off of the clean-up of Ogoni land, an exercise billed to last 30 years. Presidency did not give any reason why the President opted out of the visit to Ogoni kingdom in Rivers State but it may not be unconnected to the threats by a new group of daring militants – the Niger Delta Avengers – who had earlier blown up several oil facilities in the creeks with a threat to cause further havoc if the President steps on their soil.
The President sent his deputy, VP Yemi Osinbajo, instead to perform the ceremony. This is the second time in recent weeks that the President had to cancel scheduled and advertised visits. He did same last month when he failed to visit Lagos to commission projects, preferring to send VP Osinbajo.
The clean-up of oil spills in Ogoni land was recommended in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report as a first step towards the development of the oil spill ravaged community.
Osinbajo performed the launch on Thursday, June 2.
Just before delivering the President’s message to the people, Professor Osinbajo described the occasion as an historic one, not just in the lives of Ogoni people but also for the entire Niger Delta.
He said that the clean-up of Ogoni land was not just a restoration of the environment but would be a restoration of families, the people’s wealth, health and everything that is good about the land.
“It is the day of victory”, he said, believing that it would be the beginning of many more good things.
The Minister for the Environment, Ms. Amina Mohammed, urged the people to support the exercise.
She said that the President having kept his promise to the Niger Delta people, cleaning up Ogoni land is now a collective responsibility of the government and the people.