President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met with leaders of Ogoniland, Rivers State, saying he is ready to bring to a close all pending issues on sons of Ogoni Land, including the consideration of the request for the grant of pardon to the outspoken author and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni Niger Delta activists.
Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine were executed by hanging November 10, 1995 by the government of General Sani Abacha and were buried in the Port Harcourt Cemetery.
But President President Buhari said while receiving some leaders and people of Ogoni Land at the Presidential Villa, Abuja: “Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished representatives of the people of Ogoni Land, I note the need to ensure completion of segment of the East-West road traversing Ogoni Land, and steps will be taken to ensure delivery under the Infrastructure Development Fund as earlier conceived. We intend to complete this vital artery of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring clemency and national integration as part of this Administration’s bid to lay the foundation for genuine reconciliation and bring closure to the issues of Ogoni Land.
“The unfortunate incidents of the early 1990s leading to the loss of lives of distinguished sons of Ogoni Land and the collateral judicial processes are indelible in our memories.
“Despite the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga.’
The President urged Ogoni leaders to sensitize the indigenes on the value of protecting national assets like pipelines and other oil installations, saying that willful damages to these facilities usually created more havoc on their environment and hampered development in the area.
In giving the details of the meeting Presidential Spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said the Federal Government was committed to the cleaning up of Ogoni Land so that indigenes could regain their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.
The President said bad industry practices coupled with security challenges had resulted in massive spills with attendant environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to agitations and strife.
The President, however, said the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had been granted license to operate OML11, which will stimulate economic activities and integration in the zone.
President Buhari said he was aware of the passage of the Bill on the Federal University of Environmental Technology by the National Assembly and awaits transmission for further necessary action.
In his remarks, the President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, His Majesty King Godwin N.K. Giniwa, thanked President Buhari for various interventions in the area, particularly on clean-up of the environment.
The paramount ruler said the people believed in the unity of Nigeria and the future of every group could only be guaranteed in one nation.