I called on Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) not to award new clean-up contracts in Ogoni without addressing issues around emergency measures as recommended by UNEP Report 2011 which it skipped to mobilize contractors to site.
The emergency measures include construction of contaminated soil management centre, building of a centre of excellence, provision of portable drinking water for the people, audit of the health of the people, addressing livelihood issues especially those related to youths involved in acts of oil theft and artisanal refining, etc. HYPREP had earlier advertised for these measures, received biddings but swept them under the carpet and went ahead to request for fresh applications for cleanup and awarded the contracts.
My call and argument are hinged on the fact that, if the emergency measures were being implemented, the court cases against them that HYPREP said are up to 10 would have been reduced.
The youths dragging HYPREP to court would have been busy in the emergency measures implementation process; the communities would have felt more impacts of the project and buy-in with social license. The security challenges due to idle youths would have also been reduced and youths involved in acts of re-pollution through illegal refining would have been provided with alternative means of livelihoods. The implementation of the emergency measures would have also been a better foundation that would boost local economy in Ogoniland and make the people to embrace the project beyond media hypes.
I also made other recommendations like the roles that the Rivers State Government can play in the Ogoni Cleanup Project’s implementation process as the host state beyond sitting on the HYPREP’s Governing Council currently vacant as there is no Commissioner of Environment appointed yet in the state which keeps the government in the dark about the project. The roles that the State House of Assembly, Local Government Councils, NGOs, Community and other Niger Delta communities can play for the project implementation to be successful and our environment restored, were also highlighted.
I also call on the Federal Government to be committed to the cleanup and for Shell and other joint venture partners to provide adequate funding for the project, as a situation whereby only less than $200million has been released for the project since its inception in 2017 till date according to information available in the public domain, is not acceptable for a project with direct bearing on the lives of the people.
Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface.