President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented the neglect of Ogoni land by the previous government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which for 16 years, awarded contracts upon contracts for the development of the land without anything to show for them.
According to the President, the challenge of infrastructure in Ogoni-land would have been long resolved with more focus and commitment to improving the lives of the people, instead of the award and re-awarding of contracts without implementation.
The President, who today, Friday, spoke to a delegation of Ogoni leaders from the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers and elected leaders of MOSOP at the State House, Abuja assured them: “we will not abuse the trust. What belongs to Nigeria stays in Nigeria and will be utilised by Nigerians.”
He however advised the leaders, including academia, women, community and religious ones to prevail on their youths and sensitize their communities more on the benefits of the clean-up process, especially with the involvement of the international community.
“Certainly I am aware of the challenges in Ogoni-land. But I want to appeal to you as institutionalized leaders to speak more to the youths. With patience, we will prevail together in restoring the environment, especially with involvement of the international community.”
The President noted that the degradation of the environment over the years had undermined the economy of the Ogoni people, adding that commercial farming and fishing will pick up after the restoration.
“We are working hard to change the situation. I know that if we had power in the country, many Nigerians will create and face their businesses.”
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, His Royal Majesty King GNK Ogininwa commended the President for the achievements recorded in restoring security and the economy, while calling for more Federal Government attention on the plight of the people in Ogoni-land.
“Through you, Mr President, we will achieve great things in Ogoni-land,’’ he added.
King Ogininwa conferred the title of “Meni-Doo-Lenu’’ on the President, meaning the “the King of Doing Good Things in Ogoni-land’’.
A member of the delegation, Prof. Walter Ollor, presented a list of the needs of the Ogoni people, which includes a national recognition for the Ogoni 12, which includes Ken Saro-Wiwa, improved security and establishment of a Centre for Environmental Excellence.