Jan 05, 2006

Ogoni: Rivers State Government Earmarks N2bn for Ogoniland Development

The decision to earmark N2 billion worth of projects for Ogoniland came as Rev Father Mathew Kukah and MOSOP President Mr Ledum Mittee are discussing reconciliation between the Ogoni and the Shell Petroluem Development Company

Rivers State Government said it has earmarked N2 billion worth of projects for the four Local Government Areas of Ogoniland.
This came as the Federal Government Reconcilator, Rev Father Mathew Kukah and the President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr Ledum Mittee insisted that dialogue remains the only solution to the disagreement between Ogoni and Shell Petroluem Development Company. Kukah also called on MOSOP and the Ogoni people to put their house in order for the sake of the reconcilatory talks with Shell.

Governor Peter Odili who announced this yesterday at the Ogoni Day Celebration 2006, at the Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori, said the Government has made provision for the special projects in the state 2006 budget just signed into law.
Odili disclosed that the allocation is different from other projects the state government is undertaking in parts of the State including Ogoni land, noting that the allocation would be for projects the Ogoni people would choose for themselves and present to Government for immediate execution.

The governor congratulated the Ogoni people for the focused determination to the struggle that lasted for years, and lauded them for the unity as well as the peaceful disposition brought to bear in the struggle for justice in the Niger Delta region.
He appealed to the Ogoni people to forget the past, as nothing can be done to drag Ogonis back again; assuring that the State Government has resolved to move the area to the next level of development.

"We are not going to waste our time thinking about yesterday, because you can never win any race by running and looking backwards if you must be a champion. You run looking at the finishing tape", Odili declared.
He commended the chiefs, women and youths and the entire Ogoni people for the ways they have conducted themselves since the inception of the present State Government in 1999, and promised to reward them appropriately for the support and cooperation.

Odili thanked the Ogoni sons and daughters serving in his cabinet for their high performance of their duties, pointing out that two Ogoni sons represented the State in the last Political Reforms Conference, as no other part of the State had such opportunity, which he said demonstrates the prominent position of the people in the affairs of the State.

Odili who explained the unavoidable absence of President Olusegun Obasanjo at the Ogoni Day Celebration, said the Presidency attaches importance to a true reconciliation process of the past incidents between the Ogonis and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

He remarked that he was present at the event to show his solidarity to the Ogoni struggle, adding "I have watched the celebration over the years and I'm here to show you that I'm part of the struggle", and charged the people to embrace the Rev. Matthew Kukah led facilitation team to move the Ogoni people forward for a better future in Nigeria.

Also speaking the Facilitator of the Ogoni-Shell Peace Process, Reverend Matthew Kukah called on the people of Ogoni to put the past behind them and contribute towards having a better future. Kukah also enjoined the people to put their house in order and embrace the process that would bring about change in Ogoni land.

He observed that Government's presence at the occasion showed that things have begun to change in Ogoni land, expressing appreciation to Dr Peter Odili for his support and contributions to Ogoni development.
The Mosop President, Ledum Miitee said the Ogoni struggle had remained non violent because of the people's belief in peace as an instrument for development and justice.

Miitee maintained that every dispute like the one between Ogoni and Shell could only be resolved through genuine dialogue and called for sincerity on the part of Shell in the ongoing reconciliation effort between the two sides.
He commended the Rivers State Governor Dr Peter Odili for his supports and contributions to Ogoni Development and pledged the continuous support of the people to his administration. The Chairman of the occasion, Chief Philip Leba Badom urged the people to be resilient in the struggle urging them not to allow external influences break their ranks.

Odili had earlier been decorated with a symbolic Mosop outfit as a mark of appreciation for his unrelented support and assistance to the people of Ogoni. High point of the occasion which attracted people from various walks of life was the conferment of awards on some Ogoni sons who have distinguished themselves in their areas of endeavour and to the course of Ogoni struggle.

Source: This Day