By Ogochukwu Isioma
President Muhammadu Buhari was, yesterday, in Oginiland, Rivers State, conferred with a chieftaincy title, ‘Gbene of Ogoni land’ (Mighty Eagle of Ogoni land).
Kasimene Bangha VII of Ogoniland, HRM Mene (Dr) Suanu Timothy Yormaadam Baridam Gbenemene, conferred the title on the President, on behalf of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers.
METROWATCHXTRA.COM reports that Buhari was in the state for the groundbreaking ceremony of the triad projects of the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration, Ogoni Specialist Hospital, and the Ogoni Power Project.
President Buhari virtually participated in the ceremony performed on his behalf by the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, who equally received the chieftaincy title on behalf of the President.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Buhari called on the incoming Bola Tinubu administration to consolidate on the Ogoni clean-up projects, while urging the Niger Delta region to give its maximum support and cooperation to his incoming successor.
He expressed confidence that the Ogoni Power Project, upon completion, will spur socio-economic development of Ogoniland, create job opportunities for artisans and enhance entrepreneurial growth.
The President said the power project will bring sustainability to the Potable Water Schemes, Livelihood Programme, Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration, and the Specialist Hospital projects being undertaken by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).
On the benefits of the Ogoni Specialist Hospital, the President said it would bring succour to those who over time have been exposed to hydrocarbon pollution and other ailments associated with environmental pollution in the community.
Buhari noted that the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Restoration, on whose site the groundbreaking ceremony was held, will provide capacity and research opportunities to scholars within Nigeria and around the world on environmental remediation.
He urged the Ogoni community to cooperate with the Federal Ministry of Environment, HYPREP and the companies handling the execution of the projects.
The President also disclosed that approvals have been given for the rehabilitation of the Ogoni axis of the East/West Road which the Bodo/Bonny Road opens into and serves as the gateway to the Oil and Gas Free Zone, Onne.
President Buhari applauded the Rivers State Governor, Barr Nyesom Wike for his support to Federal Government’s developmental initiatives and particularly for the relative peace in Ogoni Land and Rivers State in general.
In his remarks, Mike Nweielghi, Chairman Board of Trustees, Ogoni Trust Fund pledged that Ogoni people will provide the necessary support and conducive atmosphere to the contractors to deliver on the projects.
He thanked the President for touching the lives of Ogoni people with his commitment to the clean-up exercise, following the recommendations of the UNEP report.
He also lauded the President for considering Ogoni people worthy of piloting the affairs of the HYPREP projects, pledging prudent and transparent management of the funds.