A former Niger Delta agitator, Chief Solomon Ndigbara and the Ogoni Development Drive (ODD) have faulted plans by the federal government to appoint a non-Ogoni, Professor Philip Shekwolo, as the project coordinator of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Programme (HYPREP).
HYPREP is the federal government agency overseeing the cleaning up of Ogoni polluted environment as recommended by report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Speaking during a peaceful protest at Yeghe community in Gokana local government area of the Rivers State yesterday, Ndiagba said a non-Ogoni citizen would never head the HYPREP, stressing that it would be injurious to the moral consciousness of Ogoni people.
He said Ogoni people had called for the removal of the immediate past project coordinator, Marvin Dekii, an Ogoni, for not living up to expectations, adding that the former coordinator’s exit should not mean that he should be succeeded by someone from another tribe.
He wondered if it was because of the non-violent approach for the struggle advocated by the late Ken Saro-Wiwa that has given government the right to take Ogoni ethnic nationality for granted.
Ndiagba said: “We did not write that they (federal government) should send a Hausa person to come and head HYPREP. Is it because Ken Saro-Wiwa preached that we should adopt non-violent approach? That is why they (government) are treating Ogoni people the way they like.
“Enough is enough. This is the right time they will know that Ogoni people are angry. That office must be occupied by an Ogoni person. Without that, nobody will sit in that position.”
He warned politicians to desist from planting surrogates that would do their biddings to head the agency.
Also speaking, Solomon Lenu said there were Ogoni natives with competent qualities to be appointed project coordinators of HYPREP, adding that it would be morally wrong to appoint someone who was a staff member of Shell and anti-Ogoni to head an agency handling the people’s affairs.
Lenu said: “That Philip Shekwolo is a Shell surrogate who in the past defended Shell that there was no oil spill in Ogoniland, that if there was any, it was the orchestration of Ogonis themselves to blackmail Shell.
“Ogoni youths and elders say capital No to Philip Shekwolo as substantive HYPREP coordinator. That Ogoni people have sons and daughters who are more than qualified to pilot the affairs of HYPREP as coordinators.
“We are equally ready to sacrifice everything legally and otherwise available to us to ensure we stop this sacrilegious appetite of Shekwolo.”