From Tony John, Port Harcourt
president Muhammadu Buhari yesterday aborted his long awaited visit to Ogoniland for the flag-off of envirnmental clean up in the oil impacted area. No official reason was given for the last minute cancellation.
But he assured that his government would protect Niger Delta region from environmental pollution resulting from pipeline vandalism and bombing.
Buhari who was represented by the Vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, warned pipeline vandals that Federal Government would not keep quiet and watch them sabotage the economy of the country, stressing that, “oil theft and illegal refinery would not be tolerated.”
He noted that previous governments failed to give the desired attention to the cleanup of Ogoniland since the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report was released in 2009.
The president said his administration was laying a foundation for change, saying that the rule of law would be applied to anybody that violates the law of the land.
Buhari said the launch of the clean up of Ogoniland was a fulfilment of the promise he made to the people during the presidential campaign, that when voted to power, the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government would commence the implementation of the UNEP report in Ogoni and other impacted communities in region.
President Buhari pointed out that former president Olusegun Obansanjo initiated the UNEP report assessment, noting that the report was inherited by Goodluck Jonathan administration, but was not implemented.
“Today (yesterday) is historic in Ogoni and all the neighbouring communities of Niger Delta. What we are witnessing is a restoration of health, wealth, environment and families of the Ogoni people.
“Today marked another milestone in our administration. The degradation caused by oil pollution has caused a huge damage to the environment. Obasanjo started the UNEP report and was inherited by Jonathan administration.
“The report was not implemented and the people continued to suffer. We made a promise during our campaign that we would implement the UNEP report if we are voted into power. We are here today to fulfil that promise. We are laying a solid foundation for the implementation of the report and it would be extended to other communities of Niger Delta.
“We urge Nigerians to support the efforts of the present administration in rebuilding the economy. Let me sound a note of warning that oil theft and illegal refineries would not be tolerated. We are laying a foundation for change and the rule of law would be applied”.
Governor Nyesom Wike commended President Buhari for his bold step in the implementation of the UNEP report and promised that Rivers State government would provide the platform for the success of the project.
Also, President of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Legborsi Pyagbara, commended President Buhari for his political will power to commence the clean up exercise.