The Presidency on Monday advised the Action Congress of Nigeria not to weep more than the bereaved over the opposition party’s accusation that the Federal Government had not done enough for residents of Koloama, Bayelsa State, over the Chevron oil rig explosiion in the community.
The Presidency’s reaction was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati.
Abati said the party’s claim could not be farther from the truth.
He said, “Alhaji Mohammed (ACN’s spokesman) should resist the temptation to weep more than the bereaved.
“I would like to remind him that accidents involving oil spills and fires and other environmental disasters arising from the oil industry are complicated and are not matters that you rush over.”
He said although the explosion at the Chevron platform in Koluama occurred at the height of the fuel subsidy crisis, the government gave priority attention to the matter by setting the necessary machinery in motion to manage the disaster.
He recalled that the President promptly dispatched the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Maduekwe, to the scene for an on-the-spot assessment.
Abati added that this was to determine its extent and what needed to be done to relieve the suffering of the community and ensure that the threat to the people’s lives and livelihood was contained.
He said the President personally visited Koluama community on February 27 to among other things, empathise with the community and confirm the requirements for addressing the damage done to the community.
Abati said after the President’s visit, the Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta Matters, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, visited the island on March 6 on the orders Jonathan to commence skill acquisition programme for youths and women in the affected communities.
The presidential spokesman said to meet the people’s immediate needs, NEMA, Chevron, the Ministries of Environment and Niger Delta Affairs, were also directed to assist the communities.
He said they have been doing so by providing relief materials and other forms of assistance.
Abati said, “It is not true that the Federal Government is treating Chevron with ‘kid gloves’. Jonathan has been actively involved with the Koluama communities since his days as Deputy Governor and Governor of Bayelsa State; he understands their plight.
“It is also not true that all the President ‘did was to praise the people for their peaceful reaction to the disaster that has befallen them’,” as claimed by Alhaji Mohammed.”