By Haruna Salami
No doubt, the major challenge in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and Ogoni land in particular is environmental degradation due to activities of oil companies.
This explains why a Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Federal University of Environment Technology, Saakpenwa Ogoni received overwhelming support to pass second reading in the Senate on Wednesday and referred to Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund for public hearing.
The sponsor of the Bill, Senator Mpigi Barinada Rivers South-East told Newsdiary that 108 senators supported the Bill because from the minority point of view, the Ogoni people are people that have been oppressed.
He said leading the debate on the floor of the Senate with overwhelming support of 108 senators supporting the Bill, because he laid it directly to his colleagues that he needed their help. “We are one of the people that have been oppressed and if we are asking this from the Nigerian nation, I don’t think we are asking too much”.
“All Nigerians are aware of the plight of Ogoni people, what they passed through and what they have seen in terms of environmental degradation over the years and decades. It’s not all about clean up, but what happens after the clean up of Ogoni. There must be peace and reconciliation.
“The man you see here, Ken Sarowiwa (pointing at the man’s picture) happened to be freedom fighter and a foremost environmentalist. All Ogoni people have been talking about is the degradation of their land. Today everybody is talking about climate change, ecological problems here and there. As an Ogoni man and someone from Niger Delta and as a Nigerian, the issue of environment needs advanced thinking ahead of what is happening now. This informed the need for researchers, since university is not just going to school, it’s also thinking about the way and foremost pattern on how to improve on modern technology and that is why we are looking at modest and modern University of Technology to be sited in Ogoni.
The choice of Ogoni is with Nigeria in perspective with Saakpenwa as the place President Muhammadu Buhari was handed the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP report on Ogoni clean up which led to the implementation of the UNEP report.
Senator Barinada said as “an Ogoni man and as a senator representing the people, in as much as I’m happy, the gods at home are happy”.