Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface is an Environmental Activist and was the youth representative of Ogoni /Niger Delta at the just concluded 71st Session of United Nation General Assembly on Climate Change in New York. In this interview with Paul Obiajunwo he reviews his experience and what he discussed with President Muhammandu Buhari over there. He also spoke on other issues.
How were you selected to represent Ogoni/ Niger Delta youth during the United Nation General Assembly on climate change?
Sometime in early September, the Federal government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Environment contacted the leadership of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). And other leaders in Niger Delta that a youth name be submitted to them, as to be part of the United Nation General Assembly on Climate Change which took place in New York. So the leadership started searching for the youths within the Ogoni axis. One person was nominated but later they discovered that the person does not have international passport. Eventually, when the person got international passport they discovered that he does not have a visa. But I have a visa and international passport because I just returned from United State on May, 2016. So that gave me an edge over him. Another criteria for travelling was that the person must have aired his view on the international stage before now, for me I have featured in Al jazeera , and radio France before returning to Nigeria. That was how I travelled to represent Ogoni youth at the assembly. And I used that opportunity to talk to some world leaders including my President, Muhammadu Bahari. I made a presentation at the meeting in Germany which touched many world leaders. This is because some of them believe that when you are talking about Niger Delta youth, it is about militant and uneducated youths. When they saw that I properly articulated my views and spoke extensively on the issue concerning my region they were surprised.
How did you approach the presidential protocol that gave you a chance to see President Buhari?
President Buhari was appreciating my presentation on how to solve the Niger Delta issue and other problem facing the region. While my presentation lasted at the event at the UN Headquarters on
September 22, 2016, President Buhari joined other leaders, members of the National Assembly, etc. to nod his head, an indication that he was taking notes of the demands on him and his government. At the end he joined other world leaders to applaud my presentation. It was obvious from the programme of event that when the President finishes speaking; there will be no room for him to respond to anybody. Thus, I concluded in my mind before I was given the floor to speak that I was going to meet with Mr. President and get response from him for the demands in my speech. It was against these backgrounds that, at the end of the event, I walked up to the presidential security/protocol team and demanded to meet with Mr. President. Without hesitation or second thoughts, they threw their doors open for me to meet with the President. President Buhari then received me with a smile on his face, had handshake with me, congratulated me on my presentation and told me that he had taken notes of my demands on him and his government and that step has been taken to address them. There is indeed no one that would get these assurances, directly from the mount of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria himself that would not conclude that he is determined and committed to clean-up Ogoni, and the Niger Delta region. President Buhari deserves to be given the benefit of doubt, by way of support and cooperation to enable him address the challenges in the Niger delta region. While we continue monitoring and playing oversight functions to be sure that they are being done. We cannot forget in a hurry that We had a son of the region that became a President who could not take the step President Buhari is taking today to address the problem in the region. But within one year of President Buhari he launched the implementation of UNEP Report and the Minister for Environment has been working hard to ensure progress. On August 4th 2016 the President inaugurated the governing council on Ogoni clean up. I want the youths of the region to give Mr. President a chance to develop the region, today the chibok community is celebrating over the release of some of the abducted girls. That means the President is working. So, in the region here, there is need to stop bombing the pipeline and destroying other national assets.
Some of the youths in the region have insisted that they are not going to give Mr. President a chance, why
It is ignorant, they are not aware of what the President had in mind for Niger Delta people. Nobody can say that the President does not have the capacity to deliver. All we need in the Niger Delta region is to give Mr President a chance. Don’t forget that during President Buhari’s election campaign he visited Rivers State and he identified with Ogoni and ensure that his campaign train gets to Ogoni land. The Chairman of Ogoni Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Chief Giniwa presented the President with Ogoni map and also handed over to the President some of the problem facing the area which he (President Buhari) Promised he was going to do if elected. And within 360 days in office President Buhari did not disappoint us but started doing those things he promised to do in Ogoni land. I want the Niger Delta youths to give peace a chance and forget about restiveness. The youths should not give the impression that the security of the region is being threatened. Because their attitudes are bringing setback and creating bad image to the region, there is no meaningful development that can take place in the atmosphere of rancor and acrimony. Apart from Ogoni land the President will also develop other area in the Niger Delta if giving a chance to do so.
A lot of people have actually see Ogoni as volatile, what are your organization doing to change the mindset of restive youth in the area
The issue of threat to peace and security is not only peculiar to Ogoni, we have it in other part of the region and Nigeria. I know quite well that we have had some threat to security in the area like I told Mr. President that what he needs to develop Ogoni and to enable the Federal government have access to Ogoni land is to create job for the youths. Many youths of Ogoni are jobless they have nothing doing. The President must constitute environmental monitory team that was recommended by UNEP Report so that the youths can engage in the monitoring of UNEP Report. If the youths are engage they will not engage in any criminality. If we have the youths working with us as part of the clean-up process their names will be on data base, then it would be easy to know which youth are causing problem in the area. As long as the youths remain idle, the challenges of insecurity will persist.
What is the benefit of an average Ogoni man in the clean-up?
The Ogoni people have so much to benefit from the clean- up, the clean-up process is like an Elephant meat, and nobody can eat elephant meat at ago. We have 1Billion US dollars and the clean-up is going to last for 30 years that means we are going to have 1b dollars each in every five years of the 30 years that the clean-up is going to last. Which means it is going to turn around the economy of Ogoni and some of us are not going to work directly in the clean-up process. But the effect of the money in the Ogoni economy will attract development. If you are doing the business of hotel, you will be seeing more customers; if you are a market woman your business will flourish likewise a driver and the rest of them. So money is going to flow. That is why there is need to fix a regular power supply and maintain roads in the area so that as the money is coming everything will stimulate