Contrary to some reports that Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has been cleared of oil spillages in Ogoniland in Nigeria, the Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odey has denied the reports of any exoneration by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Odey made the clarification while declaring open the 3rd Task Force Meeting of the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adaptive Land Use at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
The minister explained that the responsibility of UNEP in Ogoniland “is to carry out baseline study of oil spills and give professional advice on remediation measures and not to give verdict or clearance on behalf of the Federal Government .’’
He added that the Federal Government and SPDC have provided funds for the baseline study, noting that following President Goodluck Jonathan’s directive remediation programme had to be included which is not remediation per se but a programme that will provide benefits for the affected communities in collaboration with the Rivers State Government.
Mr. Odey however cautioned that while these efforts are going on the State Government and the communities should ensure that oil bunkering activities which caused the spills were checkmated.
He stated that his office is open and accessible to Reporters and other Nigerians who seek clearer pictures on issue of the environment.
The Minister also called on members of the 3rd Task Force meeting in Abuja to come up with an all inclusive programme, developed in such a participatory manner that all countries are carried along by the location of either a centre (Affiliate/Satellite) or Post Graduate Programmes in priority themes as the outcome will be presented to the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria for a definite contribution to the success of WASCAL.
He further called for the establishment of more than one competence centre for the region in view of the size and diversity of West Africa.