Nigeria launches clean-up in oil spill region

2016-06-02 19:04


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Abuja - Nigeria's vice-president on Thursday launched a $1bn oil pollution clean-up programme in the Niger delta after President Muhammadu Buhari pulled out of visiting the restive region.

Yemi Osinbajo stood in for Buhari, who had been due to attend the ceremony in the Ogoniland area of Rivers state in what would have been his first visit to the delta as president.

The presidency gave no reason for the sudden change in plan but it comes in the wake of an upsurge in militant attacks on key oil infrastructure in the creeks and swamps of the oil-producing south.

Buhari has ordered increased security around installations while the military has called the Niger Delta Avengers, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks, "economic terrorists".

The attacks have cut production to 1.4 million barrels per day, heaping fresh misery on a crude-dependent economy already crippled by the global slump in oil prices.

Restoration of fishing

Security challenges have long been linked to environmental devastation to farming and fishing blamed on the oil industry, as well as under-development of the delta region.

In August 2011, the United Nations Environment Programme said Ogoniland may require the world's biggest-ever clean-up after a succession of oil spills.

Osinbajo pledged the government would reverse the damage: "We are determined to put right the wrongs of the past."

He added: "The restoration that is going to take place here is not just the restoration of your land but the restoration of fishing...your farming and health."

But experts believe the restoration of ecosystems could take up to 25 years to complete.

UNEP's incoming executive director Erik Solheim, said: "The task to clean up Ogoniland will neither be easy nor fast but it needs to be done.

"If we succeed here, it will demonstrate that degraded environments can be restored, sending a signal to many other communities around the world that peaceful co-operation can lead to positive outcomes."

Read more on:    nigeria  |  west africa

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