As debate on the on-going UNEP Clean-Up in Ogoni continues, a group comprising of Ogoni women leaders from oil pollution impacted communities and some civil society representatives have called for the enactment of the HYPREP Act to safeguard the future of the clean-up from being truncated before the process is completed.
The demand is part of the outcomes of recommendations for successful clean-up of Ogoni land by participants at a training on Key Performance Indicators for Success, KPIS on the Ogoni Clean-Up organized by Kebetkache on Monday, October 28, 2019 in Port Harcourt.
The group noted that the Ogoni Clean-Up exercise will cut across leadership regimes in its 25-30 planand since it is only in the federal gazette, its sustainability will be dependent on the benevolence of the man at the driving seat of power.
Giving it the status of an act will, according to them, prevent the clean-up from any premature misfortune. Legislators from the state and region were therefore implored to develop and present a bill on HYPREP to the National Assembly.
They also called for institutional independence for HYPREP insisting that even though the clean-up managing body claims it has autonomy, much of its financial activities require approval from Abuja and that hinders smooth operation.
Following general outcry of failure of HYPREP to fully integrate community members in its activities, the body was advised to change its community dialogue approach to give room for better understanding of the process by the affected.
Community members were on their part, advised to help make the clean-up a success by discouraging artisanal refining, building cordial relationships remediation contractors and cooperating with HYPREP.
As end users of the outcome of the clean-up, they were also advised to develop community monitoring mechanisms for supporting the exercise rather since it appears nobody is actually monitoring how the exercise is being carried out.
To enable all concerned gain better understanding of the UNEP Clean-up, communities especially the women, were advised to create awareness on different platforms to pass on knowledge gained.
Dr Sam Kabari, an environmentalist who was the resource person, expressed worry that people are still feeding from the UNEP declared highly contaminated land and that there is no design for a short term water supply especially in a place like Isoken where the water contamination is recorded to be extremely high.
He said from observations, the projects are not aligning with the time frame and people are not monitoring.
“We are moving at HPREP’s pace. RYPREP is dictating the pace, not dictating the quality of work being done”.
Earlier, executive director of Kebetkache Emem Okon said the training was strategic as it was aimed at getting women, more impacted by oil pollution, to gain deeper understanding on what constitutes key performance indicators for success so they can knowledgeably engage with operators in the clean-up.
She challenged the women to initiate activities and not wait only to be invited by HYPREP or non-governmental organizations.
“People expect to know from the women. Let us not always wait to be called. Make opportunities for women to interface with the governing council. Come up with something to bring before them. If we have something to say, we should not keep quiet about it,” she charged.
Present at the one-day training were female councilors from the impacted communities.