Season’s Greetings and Love to you, my dear brothers and sisters, and congratulations on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the Ogoni day. I recall with the nostalgic feelings how it all started 31 years ago. How Our people under the leadership of late Kenule Beeson Saro Wiwa and other great leaders of Ogoni both past and present, and all our people converged on Bori on the 4th day of January 1993. It all started as the beginning of a peaceful struggle against discrimination, suppression, political marginalisation, and environmental degradation by the then military government of Nigeria.
Our late Hero Kenule Beeson Saro Wiwa and his associates led the struggle against oppression and the marginalisation of our people. And how the battle was not to be fought through the barrels of booming guns but with our brains and pens. Sadly enough, we lost a generation of our great leaders and people in the process.
Therefore, as we mark this day, may we all ponder over what our past heroes died for. And that is the emancipation of our people from political marginalisation, poverty, oppression, and environmental degradation, without the spill of anyone’s blood, not of an Ogoni or anyone living amongst us.
Today, in an attempt to review the level of progress in the struggle, can we pause to ask ourselves, how far we have gone, and where exactly we are in the struggle? And what contributions have been made individually and collectively in achieving set goals?.
It must be re-stated that this struggle was a peaceful one, and that was why we received acceptance and recognition by both local and the International Community. This indeed is the first high points even though it was later to be fraught with unnecessary disturbances by supposed external enemies.
From the foregoing, I wholeheartedly call on all Ogoni sons and daughters to continue to remain peaceful in our comments and expectations from the products of the struggle. We must maintain peaceful coexistence and create love among ourselves and our neighbours, for this is our strength and pride as a people.
On our part as those appointed by the Federal government of Nigeria to supritend some of the gains of the struggle, as elites and leaders, we will continue to do our best for the overall good of Ogoni people. I assure you all of our support and commitment to making Ogoni great.
For-instance, the ongoing Ogoni clean up exercise of the APC led Federal Government under the leadership of His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu is one of the greatest achievements of the Ogoni struggle and I want to use this medium to call on our people to work with government to achieve set goals of the clean up program. We must criticise aspects of the project constructively and not to malign nor bad- mouth it. We must abhor hate, acrimony, and petty jealousy.
Today, as we speak, there are currently twenty reticulated water projects ongoing in the entire length and breadth of Ogoniland. There are equally the Ogoni Power Project, the Ogoni Specialist Hospital located in Sakpenwa, the Buan Cottage hospital, the Multi-Billion Naira Centre of Excellence, Shoreline protection projects, Livelihood programs, including several remediation works completed and ongoing.
Incidentally, efforts of remediation works are not easily appreciated since they are neither visible nor tangible to see and feel because they occur underneath the surface of the earth
These landmark projects of the ongoing Ogoni clean-up exercise are being handled by the project Coordination Office of the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project HYPREP. This is under the supervision of the United Nations Environmental Programme ( UNEP).The Ogoni Power Project, earlier mentioned, is described as a “star project of HYPREP” and will gulp over #27 billion in its first phase and link all Ogoni Communities to the national grid.
The second phase of the 14 water projects, which were earlier being stalled at the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) owing to unwarranted litigations since June 2022, have been addressed and some communities are now currently enjoying potable water from the six which commencedin Apri, 2021.There is hope for more to be reticulated in the first quarter of the year 2024.
Therefore, we must shun rumour mongering and spurious allegations by conflict merchants regarding the safe custody of the funds for the implementation of the project. These funds are quite safe and require strict procedures before cash is called from the standard chartered bank UK and EFG bank, Switzerland, where these funds are being domiciled.
Indeed, application for funds transfer to the Project Coordination Office is nebulous and only on the request by the coordinating office of HYPREP. through the approval of the Governing Council of HYPREP. And final approval/ release by the Board of Trustees Ogoni Trust Fund incorporated.
This board is made up of the minister of finance/ minister coordinating the economy, ministers of Petroleum & Gas, SPDC, AGIP, TOTALENERGIES, TWO REPRESENTATIVES, OF OGONI COMMUNITIES, REPRESENTATIVES OF OTHER NIGER DELTA STATES & NGOs, UNEP & CHAIRMAN OF BOARD OF HYPREP appointed by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Also, we are pleased to equally state that the accounts of the project ( PCO/ BOT) have been audited by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAGF) and investments overseas audited by the KPMG. Those who seek explanations should approach the project office rather than a resort to blackmail
It is equally imperative at this point to solicit the contionous support of the UNEP, International Oil Companies (IOCs) and the JV- partners who are part and parcel of membership of the board of trustees and the Governing Council to continue to remain steadfast in their draw- down support for the project. Indeed, funding hasn’t been a problem for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), and it wouldn’t pose any problem.
I will, therefore, reiterate the need to sustain the process, embrace peace and dialogue and for everyone to cooperate with the Governing council headed by the Hon Minister of Environment Mallam Balarabe Abbass, the Board of Trustees and the project coordinating office to speedily deliver on mandate by the President of the federal republic of NIGERIA, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ( GCFR)
Long Live Ogoni Land. !
Long Live Rivers State!!
Long Live Federal Republic of NIGERIA.
Dr. Nwielaghi, Barieenee Michael
Chairman, Board of Trustees
Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project HYPREP.