‘Ogoni cleanup mismanaged via jettisoning of emergency measures’

THE GUARDIAN Newspaper- Kelvin Ebiri (Port Harcourt) and Cornelius Essen (Abuja)

Factional president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Fegalo Nsuke, has alleged the mismanagement of the Ogoni cleanup, insisting that the ‘jettisoning of the emergency measures of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Programme (HYPREP) was the root of the ugly development.

According to him, the short-term measures were to provide immediate relief for the people, especially the provision of potable water.Nsuke, who spoke yesterday during an unscheduled visit to Ebubu in Eleme Local Council of Rivers State, claimed: “It was disheartening that despite the clamour by MOSOP and other stakeholders in the Ogoni agitation that the emergency measures ought to have been put in place, HYPREP went ahead to award contracts to unqualified companies to clean up contaminated sites in Ogoni.”
The group said the action of HYPREP, which the Federal Government set up to implement the UNEP report, could be described as a “national shame and embarrassment.”The factional president said, in over three years, “HYPREP has been unable to make any progress worthy of commendation.”

The Ogoni people, he maintained, “still drink polluted water, as no health care facilities are available and no opportunities for employment exist in Ogoni despite over the $180 million made available for HYPREP within the period.”

He alleged that the remediation agency had not followed the UNEP report diligently and in good faith, adding: “Ogoni people have lost every confidence in the work of HYPREP and the entire cleanup.”

Nsuke noted that the UN document was explicit on how to go about the entire exercise, even painstakingly itemising on the basis of importance which emergency measures should be implemented first.
“The emergency measures included the provision of water for the people and a health audit. All these have not been done. The UNEP report also required the establishment of an Integrated Soil Management Centre which should handle contaminated wastes and a Centre of Excellence which was to develop capacity of Ogoni for the cleanup. At the moment, it is unfortunate that HYPREP has no plan on how to deal with the contaminated wastes even after contracts for the exercise have been awarded,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government will today hand over 36 impacted sites under Batch I, Phase II remediation works to contractors.A statement by Director of Press and Public Communication to the Minister of Environment, Saghir el Muhammed, said the move was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to clean up hydrocarbon sites as contained in the UNEP report.

The release indicates that the two ministers, Dr. Mohammed M.Abubakar and Sharon Ikeazor, would also visit the ongoing projects and assess their progress under the first phase of the remediation exercise in the area.

According to the document, Ikeazor would hold a consultative meeting with women and youths on HYPREP.“This is aimed at boosting the social welfare and economic activities of the people, especially in the impacted communities of Ogoniland,” it added.


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