Abuja (WorldStage Newsonline)—Against reports of inaction, the Federal Government of Nigeria said it has commenced the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on the cleaning up of the environment of Ogoniland damaged by years of oil exploration.
The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) last Thursday declared statehood for the region citing the ineffective implementation of the report for the action.
In a report credited to President/Spokesman, Goodluck Diigbo, the region affirmed self-government within Nigeria, saying "self-government became urgent recognizing the need to arrive at a consensus to collectively review the disputed UNEP Ogoniland Oil Assessment report, because any dialogue must be with the genuinely elected representatives of the people expected to enforce indigenous rights without dictation."
But the Minister of Environment, Hadiza Mailafia, on Monday said Federal Government was making enormous efforts to ensure proper implementation of the report.
Mailafia who spoke to State House Correspondents after briefing President Goodluck Jonathan on the 2012 budget and the ministry's programme for 2013, said, "We are making enormous efforts, I agree that the presentation was made last year, but you recall that just after the presentation of the UNEP report the country fell into some kind of unrest due to fuel subsidy issue.
"For quite a number of weeks, all of us were not doing what we should have been doing at that time. But it is not true that government is not doing anything.
"The UNEP report highlighted some immediate issues that needed to be addressed; finding potable or alternative supplies of drinking water, such as marking out the wells that were too polluted and doing other strategic framework activities that needed to be in place before the implementation.
"With the support of Governor Amaechi and through our agency- the National Oil Spill Remediation Agency, we have carried out all those tasks.
"A place where pollution has taken place for a very long time requires a very formidable approach and we have been working on it through the petroleum ministry. I’m glad to inform you that everything is put in place and that we are just waiting for the execution.
"I want to debunk the statement that nothing has been done. Perhaps you on the other side are waiting just to see us on the ground. If you go there you will find that groups of people have been going depending on the nature of what they have to do.
"It is not a situation where you just take officers and equipments and drive into a system and say I am going to clean up, it is beyond sweeping. It is the whole task of trying to remediate a place that has been polluted for decades".
Mailafia also tasked Nigerians to safeguard their lives and environment by adhering to environmental laws and guidelines issued by the government.
On incessant flooding in the South West and other parts of country, the minister noted that it is a global issue arising from global warning. She however stressed that the case of Nigeria is worsened by ignorance and outright refusal to comply with laid down regulations.
She further disclosed that the President had directed the ministry to intensify publicity of flood warnings and alerts especially in rainy season.
On her presentation to the President, she said it focused mainly on policy thrust of the ministry.
"For more than two hours, the Ministry presented its policy thrust for budget 2013 and the priority for budget 2012 and as it's the tradition, it was discussed, and critiqued.
"We were here to brief the President and the team on the 2013 budget as you are aware, the executive is making all efforts to ensure all budget is submitted very early and in good time good enough for us to get it back and begin to implement as at when due.
"The issues discussed have to do largely with the policy trust of the ministry which of course you are very conversant with. We will be looking at what we have done in the 2012, and what we can do better in terms of principally packaging our project, the manner of which we conceive the project and the manner in which we implement them," she said.
For 2012, she noted that the ministry had carried out a lot of projects, stressing that "we need to know when we begin projects, how far we have gone now, which ones are we likely to finish by December so that we know the ones we will carry over in 2013.
"So, largely my interaction with the President is the policy trust of the budget and how we can make it better in terms of drawing up more practical policies that will affect the lives of Nigerians."