The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says it will partner with the Federal and State Governments to explore sustainable ways of protecting the Niger Delta environment.
Mr. Edward Kallon, the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, gave the assurance on Friday at the 22nd anniversary to commemorate the Ogoni Martyrs Day in Port Harcourt.
Kallon was represented at the occasion by Mr. Wilboard Ngambi, the organisation’s South South Coordinator.
He said that UNDP would sustain its engagement with the leadership of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), especially on environmental protection.
He also assured that UN would continue to work with the government and the host communities on issues affecting peoples health, access to food, clean water and livelihoods.
According to him, some of the reported environmental challenges are water quality, degradation, destruction of vegetation and agricultural land and depletion of fish population by oil spills.
He said that such environmental problems occur in the course of petroleum exploration and operations.
He called on Ogoni people to get involved and participate in what the government was doing to clean up Ogoni land.
In his speech, Mr Legborsi Pyagbara, the President of MOSOP, said that Ogoni people were not against resumption of oil production in Ogoni land.
He said that the Ogoni people wanted disputes and issues surrounding the operations in the oil industry to be settled before resumption of such activities in Ogoniland.
Pyagbara called on Ogoni people to learn from the past events.
He said that MOSOP condemned the recent attempt by Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to impose another operator on the Ogoni Oil Bloc without seeking the consent of Ogoni people.
“We have reached a point where Nigeria should be restructured.
“The Ogoni nine died for a restructured Nigeria which will guarantee equity, justice and fairness,” he said.
In his remarks, Prof. Ben Naanen of the Department of History and Diplomatic Service, University of Port Harcourt, called on government to ensure justice and equity for all Nigerians.
Naanen said that Ogoni people were calling for justice and equity not war.
“We are calling for our due and not war, not to be marginalised. Our land should be cleaned for us to have good water, fertile land to farm among others.
“We stand on Ogoni Bill of Right and call on the Federal Government to clean our land,” he said.