Vindication At Last By By Donu Kogbara

My dear sister and friend, Temi Harriman, a lawyer and politician, has just won a legal battle against a bunch of malicious men who decided, for reasons best known to themselves, to libel a lady who doesn’t deserve to be embarrassed.

She is on record as the only PDP House of Representatives member in the South-South zone who openly opposed ex-President Obasanjo’s Third Term plan and rejected the N50 million that was allegedly given to each legislator who was ready to comply.

In other words, Harriman is a very unusual Nigerian – a woman of considerable substance, immense courage and enormous integrity.

And yet, in The Nation newspaper of April 14, 2015, Prophet Jones Ode Erue (Delta State Chairman of the APC), Comrade Chris Onodjacha (Assistant State Secretary of the Delta State APC) and their accomplice, Mr Gbenga Omotosho, decided to tarnish her reputation. Erue, Onodjacha and Omotosho issued a very damaging statement in which it was claimed that the Executive Committee of the APC in Delta, which is Harriman’s home state, had at an emergency meeting, expelled Ms Harriman from the APC.

Harriman, outraged by this injustice, promptly sued them; and following a recent judgement in her favour – thanks to Hon. Justice L.A. Oluyemi of the High Court Of Lagos State – the expulsion has been declared “void ab initio” and the defendants were compelled to publish an unreserved apology and full retraction in this newspaper and The Nation on Tuesday August 23, 2016. The facts behind this case beggar belief.

Firstly and amazingly, the “emergency meeting” was a complete fabrication and never actually took place. Secondly, when Harriman left the PDP, she became a foundation member of the Action Congress, which later morphed into the All Progressives Congress, APC.

And she subsequently served the APC diligently – as a member of the National Election Planning Committee in 2014/15, as a member of the Presidential Campaign Council and as the Delta State Coordinator of Buhari’s presidential campaign. Temi is also one of the nicest people I know. And I’d have expected all of her Delta APC colleagues to like her, respect her and regard her as an asset.

It really shocks me that they succumbed to murky hidden agendas and tried to pull her down. Ungentlemanly as well as unfair!

Anyway, this particular cloud has a silver lining; and I’m delighted to report that her unchivalrous enemies have failed woefully and disgraced themselves…and that the HONOURABLE Temi Harriman is still a committed senior APC stalwart.

g Jaja speaks I recently participated in an Abuja conference that was initiated by Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House Of Representatives. The conference revolved around the fact that many reform-oriented oil industry experts and law-makers believe that the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, should be passed soon.

One of the special guests of honour at this event was King Jaja of Opobo, the current occupant of possibly the oldest and definitely the most famous, most historically authentic and most distinguished royal stool in my home state, Rivers.

Frankly, I don’t normally have much time for traditional rulers because I’m not an African traditionalist by nature. But Jaja is so exceptional – and such a charming and well-educated creative thinker – that I was eager to spend time with him.

To cut a long story short: I wound up following him around devotedly, so I could listen to his words of wisdom and ensure that he was properly looked-after! And His Majesty rewarded my attentions by sharing a very interesting observation and very viable suggestion that I will now proudly share with Vanguard readers.

He pointed out that the PIB has hitherto been stalled in the National Assembly by legislators from other zones who feel that the PIB over-favours the Niger Delta.

He therefore advised that the PIB be scrapped and replaced by a totally new Bill that will cover solid mineral resources as well as oil/gas and make other zones (which contain several potentially lucrative mining sites that need to be efficiently exploited) feel included in demands for host communities to gain special perks. I couldn’t agree more.

I just hope that if gold, bauxite or whatever become available in commercial quantities in other zones, the indigenes of those zones will not protest if the Niger Delta – which has financially supported the entire nation for so long – also benefits! Ogoni clean-up President Buhari, on August 4, inaugurated a Governing Council and Board of Trustees for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP.

HYPREP was established to ensure implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, Report on the chronic air/land/water pollution that Ogoniland has endured as a result of oil exploration and production activities.

At the inauguration ceremony, Mr President described Ogonis as “our brothers and sisters” and quoted the UNEP report’s description of this longstanding Ogoni problem as “a landscape characterised by a lack of trust, paralysis and blame.” Mr President has also assured stakeholders and concerned members of the public that the funds earmarked for HYPREP will not be nefariously diverted.

Like many other Nigerians, I have been critical of the Buhari administration in recent months because of the myriad nightmares the country is grappling with.

But one must never forget to see the good as well as the bad and the encouraging as well as the disappointing, so I’m heartily congratulating Mr President for taking the suffering of my Ogoni people seriously. The UNEP Report was published five years ago, but it is only now that concrete progress appears to be imminent. Patience is called for because the clean-up exercise is expected to continue for two or three decades.

But, as Mr President has said: “Together we will be able to transform what is today a tragic tale of desolation and destruction to one of restoration and opportunity for the coming generations. The expertise and technology exist to make this a reality.

In the end, this project will serve as the gold standard” [for similar clean-up exercises in other parts of the Niger Delta].

I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed that this does not become yet another Naija Government flop that started well but spectacularly fails to deliver!


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.