Yesterday, President Buhari signed the historic Paris Agreement at the United Nations Head Quarters in New York!! And while we are still wrapping our heads around the many green things about to come out from Nigeria, a side event tagged “Taking Climate Action for Sustainable Development” was hosted by the President, the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed and other African leaders including Nnimmo Bassey, Ibrahim Thaw etc
There were deliberations on the Nationally Determined Commitments to fight climate change for Nigeria, Lake Chad and Morrocco and more importantly, President Buhari re-affirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the Paris Agreement as he stated the the SDGs are a roadmap for the Change agenda in Nigeria.
With the Ogoni Clean Up being one of the most forward thinking environmental project to come from Africa in a long time, there were lots of commendations from other African leaders on this forte Nigeria has decided to pursue.
Also present at the side event was Mr. Fyneface dumnamene fyneface; an environmental justice activist and youth representative of Social Action Nigeria. He laid some big demands on President Buhari and we got a full transcript. Please read below:
On behalf of the Ogoni people, I thank President Muhamadu Buhari, GCFR, the Honourable Minister of Environment, Amina Muhammed, the Honourable Minister of State for environment, Jibril Usman and indeed the Federal Government of Nigeria for the opportunity to be here today.
As an Ogoni youth and Environmental Justice Activist, I have been campaigning and demanding for the implementation of UNEP Report on Ogoniland released since August 4, 2011. However, nothing significant was done by the immediate past administration in Nigeria but within one year in office, President Muhammadu Buhari had kick-started the process of restoring Ogoni environment with the flag-off of the clean-up of Ogoniland and other oil impacted sites in the Niger Delta on 2nd June, 2016 and the subsequent inauguration of the Governing Council and Board of Trustees last August 4. Thank you Mr. President; thank you Ms. Amina for your commitment and dedication. Ogoni people appreciate all the efforts you have put in this process. Your integrity, energy and commitment are the main reasons we have gone this far without any ugly incident that associates with activities of this magnitude.
As the actual clean-up operations begin from Ogoni following the successes recorded so far in the flag-off, constitution and inauguration of the Board of Trustees and Governing Council of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), the youths want the head office of HYPREP to be sited in Ogoniland and for the Honourable Minister and her team to commence capacity building programme straightaway by training youths that will support the process. The immediate setting up of Clean-up Monitoring Programme as recommended by UNEP (Report, 2011, p.15) and recruitment of youths as monitors would go a long way to give the youths hope, keep them busy and integrate them into the clean-up processes to reduce restiveness. The Clean-Up (HYPREP) Project Manager should also be appointed without further delay.
Honourable Minister, the water we drink in Ogoni is 900times worse than World Health Organisation’s recommended standard and poison-filled with cancer causing agents (UNEP Report, 2011). Thus, there is urgent need to start with the interim measures of providing portable drinking water to reduce the increasing death rates in Ogoniland. The air we breathe is also filled with poisonous hydrocarbon.
We call on our neighbours and friends of Nigeria including the Presidents and good people of Chad, Niger, Cameroon, France and others present here today to support President Buhari and cooperate with his government to combat Climate Change, Desertification and address the challenges posed by the drying Lake Chad and the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
Mr. President, we the youths promise you total support and cooperation in your efforts to restore Ogoni environment, livelihoods, health and sustainable economic development in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
Big demands and more importantly youth representation and inclusion at high profile gatherings like this. We like.