Ogoni leaders of Rivers state on Monday distanced themselves from the recent declaration of independence by factional leader of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Goodluck Digbo.
A delegation of the Ogoni people led by Senator Magnus Abe met with President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House and distanced their people from the declar'ation.
Speaking during the meeting, Senator Abe said the Ogoni leaders have reiterated their commitment to remain part of a united Nigeria with a potential of emerging as a great nation.
He said "Even though Ogoni has always supported the call for devolution of power to local entities to reflect true federalism upon which the Nigerian nationhood is anchored, we wish to assure you Mr. President and indeed, assure the Nigerian people that Ogoni remains committed to the unity of the Nigerian state and that we are with Nigeria, which is contrary to recent media report on Ogoni.
"We are also asking for the economic and social integration of the Ogoni people through special development initiatives. It will be recalled that the UN Secretary General fact-finding mission to Nigeria made this recommendation in respect of Ogoni in the late 1990s."
Abe told State House reporters that the meeting was necessitated by the need for immediate implementation of the report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on the Ogoniland.
"Every Ogoni person is a potential cancer patient. Tragic and catastrophic as the situation is, the Ogoni people are concerned by a protracted and near absence of a strategic response by the Federal Government to the findings of the report.
"The Ogoni people are concerned that it took as long as one year for the Federal Government to respond to the report cognizance of the urgency of that report. "Contrary to UNEP recommendation to setting up of the Ogoni Environment Restoration Agency that is specific to Ogoni, the Federal Government has decided to establish a programme that is wider in scope to cover other areas experiencing hydro-carbon pollution. We hope that this broad jurisdiction will not undermine the implementation of the UNEP report," he said.
BY ABDUL-RAHMAN ABUBAKAR, 5 SEPTEMBER 2012, Daily Trust.