National Assembly summons minister over Ogoni clean up

The National Assembly Joint Committee on Host Communities has again summoned the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, to present the status of the Ogoniland Cleanup Project.

Chairman of the joint committee, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, gave the directive in Abuja, yesterday, during an interactive session with the Ministry of Environment and management committee of the project.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that neither the minister nor the permanent secretary appeared before the committee. Instead, a representative of the minister, Mr. Charles Ikeah, was present at the hearing.

Displeased by the absence of the minister, Degi-Eremienyo said: “We had extended the invitation to the minister, who is the chairman of the governing council on Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP). But he has failed to appear before the committee.

“The project coordinator of HYPREP was also invited. But he has failed to appear before the committee.

“This is not the first invitation. If he will not be able to attend this meeting, he should have communicated by himself or through the permanent secretary before today.”

The chairman said he took their failure to be at the meeting as an insult and a high level of irresponsibility.

He said: “I express my displeasure totally. I frown at the attitude of the minister and also the project coordinator in demonstrating constant disrespect and disregard for the institution of the parliament.

“We have invited them about three times and they evaded engagement with the parliament. For me, it is an appearance of concealment of information to incapacitate us.

“It also shows the appearance of incompetence, appearance of bad governance. It shows appearance of insensitivity.”

The lawmaker, however, commended the Federal Government for conceptualising the idea as a follow up to the UN report on the clean up of Ogoniland.

He added: “The story of degradation and pollution of the Niger Delta is an old story but it is always fresh. It is always fresh because the situation and experience continues unabated. It is very unfortunate.

“It is on that note that I, as the chairman of the committee, also give my endorsement and support to the motion that the minister and, of course, the project coordinator and the management team of the project be summoned to appear before this joint committee.”

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