From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Former Niger Delta warlord from Ogoni ethnic nationality, Solomon Ndigbara, and Ogoni Development Drive (ODD), have demanded immediate removal of Professor Philip Shekwolo as the Project Coordinator of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Programme (HYPREP).
HYPREP is the Federal Government agency overseeing the cleaning up of Ogoni polluted environment as recommended by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.
Speaking during a peaceful protest in Yeghe community in Gokana Local Government Area of the Rivers State, yesterday, Ndiagba declared that a non-Ogoni citizen would never head the HYPREP, stressing that it would be injurious to the moral consciousness of Ogoni people.
He explained that Ogoni people had called for the removal of the immediate past Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Marvin Dekii (a native) for not living up to expectations, stating that Dekii exit did not mean that someone from another tribe should succeed him.
The former Niger Delta agitator wondered if it was because of the non-violent approach for the struggle advocated by late Ken Saro-Wiwa that has given government the right to take Ogoni ethnic nationality for granted.
Ndiagba stated: “We did not write that they (Federal Government) should send a Hausa person to come and head HYPREP. Is it because Ken Saro-Wiwa preached that we should adopt non-violent means is that why they (government) are treating Ogoni people the way they like?
“Enough is enough. This is the right time they will know that Ogoni people are angry. An Ogoni person must occupy that office. Without that, nobody will sit on that position (Project Coordinator).”
He warned that politicians should desist from planting surrogates that would do their bidding to head the agency.
Also speaking for ODD, Solomon Lenu said there were Ogoni natives with competent qualities to head HYPREP, insisting that it would be morally wrong to appoint someone who was a former staff of Shell and anti-Ogoni to head an agency handling the people’s affairs.
Lenu said: “Philip Shekwolo is a Shell surrogate, who in the past defended Shell that there was no oil spill in Ogoniland, that if there was any, it was the orchestration of Ogonis themselves to blackmail Shell.
“That Ogoni youths and elders say capital No to Philip Shekwolo as substantive HYPREP coordinator. That Ogoni people have sons and daughters who are more than qualified to pilot the affairs of HYPREP as coordinators.”