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Ogoni Queen Seeks Inclusion of Women In Clean Up Exercise

By – Memoye Oghu

 

The Queen of Ogoniland, Barrister Georgina Tenalo has called on the Federal government to make the inclusion of women in the affairs of Ogoniland a national policy as it is an international standard that must be observed if excellence is to be achieved.

The Queen, who is a former Commissioner in Rivers State made the call while speaking at a one day stakeholders roundtable meeting on Ogoni clean-up last Saturday at Nortem Hall, Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State.

According to her, women and the environment cannot be separated from gender issues and any remediation of the environment such as the Ogoni clean-up must account for the well-being of women.

The Queen, who’s also a woman leader in Ogoni land averred that inclusivity of women must start from the establishment of a research based centre for gender studies.

“Everywhere that the environment goes bad, women suffers; where the environment is deforested, women who live on the land by cutting firewood to subsist are affected; in the era of global warming and climate change, women should be involve as pioneers in restoring the environment because the environment affects their lives.”

Also speaking at the event, a paramount ruler in Khana, His Majesty Saro Baridam stated that the Ogoni clean up exercise is very important to the Ogoni people and as such should address their needs accordingly.

“If you are talking about the cleaning of the environment, you’ve to also talk about the betterment of the people and how the lives of the people can be made better,“ adding that, even if the Project Co-ordinator says things are going well with the clean up, from his assessment, things are not going on well with the exercise.

His grouse with the exercise is that the Project Co-ordinator runs to Abuja for approval of everything that is to be done in Ogoni. “This policy must change for things to work well with the clean up exercise. Why would a man based in Ogoni, handling a task like Ogoni clean up be going to Abuja for every approval before he acts? It is not acceptable.”

He questioned the role of HYPREP in the development of the youths. “For every job that has been given out, each has people that the job has been given to in Abuja. This is not acceptable to us as Ogoni people.

“The number of army providing security in Ogoni are too many. The government have empowered the youths with the engagement of 500 youths as security personnel. This is not enough. We call on the government to reduce the number of army and increase the number of youths engaged, this will be more effective than the army. Ogoni is not at War.”

The royal father revealed that HYPREP is running on a deficit budget and as such, the aim of the body in achieving its set goals would be defeated without a sustainable budget plan in place. “I am aware that if the approved budget of HYPREP is released, we will run a credit balance in HYPREP. We must tell ourselves the truth. The organizations that are supposed to pay their counterpart funding are not paying their dues, how do we fund the clean up?”, he asked.

Convener of the roundtable meet, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Community Engagement, Hon. Gift Johnbull said the focus of the meeting was on inclusion as mandated by President Ahmed Bola Tinubu. “We are leaving no one behind,” she told the people of Ogoniland.

Highlights of the event included cultural displays, panel discussions but no one from the floor was allowed to ask question except the Queen who insisted that she must say something.

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