Federal Government has warned youths indulge in artisanal refining of petroleum products to stop the illegal activities in Ogoniland.
It has also noted that the stoppage of repollution from oil spills and discharges from artisanal refining, was the precondition for clean-up of the polluted sites in Ogoni environment.
Minister of Environment, Mohammad Abubakar, who was in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, yesterday, said that cleaning up sites in the swamps and creeks, when illegal refining activities are ongoing, would be an exercise in futility.
Abubakar spoke at the health situation analysis and sustainable alternative livelihood under the free medical outreach programme of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).
He also commissioned the HYPREP Area Office in Bori, inspected the water project site in Alesa Eleme and also declared open the training of community workers on basic remediation techniques in Eleme.
The minister said: “Today, we are flagging of the awareness campaign for the livelihood needs assessment programme. The needs assessment forms which will be administered next week is to ensure that training of youths is based on their desired choice of occupation, and not an imposition by government.
“The youths engaged in artisanal refining now have the choice to stop the dangerous health-threatening activity and embrace a safer occupation for their good.
“The restoration and management of the damaged mangrove vegetation is a critical activity of the project. A joint team comprising professionals from HYPREP, UNEP, NOSDRA, IOCs, MOSOP/KAGOTE and CSO have been constituted to undertake a pre-shoreline clean-up technique assessment of the mangrove sites damaged by artisanal refining and oil discharges.
“As recommended in the UNEP report, the stoppage of re-pollution from oil spills and discharges is a pre-condition for clean-up of such areas that are liable to re-pollution, otherwise it will be an exercise in futility.
“Finally, I want to strongly appeal to our community leaders and youths to be vanguards against artisanal refining and crude oil theft that constitutes a threat to the clean-up goals.
“The president wants to see that Ogoniland remains clean after the clean-up. Re-pollution must be stopped if this is to be achieved.”
The minister also announced that complex and semi-complex impacted sites in which groundwater remediation is required, have been advertised for prequalification of competent companies.
“Nigeria companies are strongly encouraged to partner with technically competent companies to ensure success and promote local content development and transfer of technology.
“We are also in the process of engaging about 500 Ogoni youths across the four LGAs as special community security agents for the project. This consultancy services have been advertised.
“Following the restructuring of HYPREP governing structures, we are steadily gaining speed in 2021, by bringing on stream other key recommendations and mandates in UNEP report including, potable water provision projects to Ogoni communities, definite plans to commence training of youths for sustainable alternative livelihood (5000 in the plan), public health inventory, environmental surveillance and construction of Centre of Excellence for Environmental Studies/Remediation.”