•Channel your energy into agriculture, minister tells militants
From Magnus Eze, Abuja and and Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Federal Government has admitted collective guilt in the deplorable state of the Niger Delta after 60 years of oil exploration which led to the unending restiveness in the region.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and his Environment counterpart, Mrs. Amina Mohammed in their separate remarks agreed that there has been age-long injustice against the oil-rich region.
Alhaji Mohammed, who spoke at the command screening of the star-studded movie, ‘Oloibiri’, in Abuja, stated that only diplomacy can resolve the Niger Delta issue.
He urged those disenchanted with the plight of the region to embrace peaceful tools of seeking redress.
“I am also saying, yes there might be justification for the anger, but the manner in which we have vented our anger has also become counter-productive,” Alhaji Mohammed stated.
Also speaking, the Minister of Environment described the film as a wake-up call to everybody to join hands and fight injustice and corruption stressing that the injustices of the past were still there to be redressed.
She said the present administration, by way of laying a strong foundation for the speedy development of the Niger Delta, has commenced the implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoni land, which was launched last June.
The recovery of what happened 60 years ago is going to take another 60 years, Mrs. Mohammed warned, insisting, “but it has to stop somewhere.
“I believe that what we are doing in the Clean-up Ogoni, a tiny island in the middle of the Niger Delta; those four local governments-Gokana, Khana, Tai, Eleme; hopefully would become the goal standard of what should be when we decide; no more, that we are cleaning up and we are staying clean in the future.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has charged militants to deploy the energy and time they use in attacking oil and gas facilities in the region into agriculture.
Lokpobiri who spoke while rounding off his visit to the state maintained that those behind the bombing of oil facilities were doing more harm to the region with their activities which is affecting agricultural activities.
“The only way we can take our people out of militancy is actually through agriculture and this is also an opportunity to tell our people that the most important resources to any man is land and water resources. By the time you are blowing up pipelines, you are actually damaging the water resources.
“Today, people say it will take 20 years to clean up Ogoni and we are blowing up our pipelines. We are the people suffering from our own decisions and wrong actions. So, the time has come for change from blowing up pipelines as a way of drawing attention to constructive engagement.”
“There is no point for anybody to blow up pipeline, after all, you are killing the fishes in the river, and doing more damage to our ecosystem. I want to use the opportunity to appeal to our youths to desist from destroying their resources. The water resources around the environment are not even enough, so if you destroy them, you are destroying your own resources.”