The CEHRD Integrated Baseline Report being unveiled February 6 at Reitz Continental Hotel, Abuja
A member of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Kingsley Chinda has accused the federal government of insincerity over the clean-up of Ogoniland.
He made the accusation while delivering a goodwill message at the launching of an environmental, health, human rights and gender baseline for Ogoni clean up organized by the Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development, CEHRD, Thursday February 6, 2020 at Reitz Continental Hotel, Abuja.
Hon Chinda described as sad, the failure of the federal government to make meaningful progress on the clean-up process despite the clear impact of the pollution on the Niger Delta especially, as the Ogoni clean-up is supposed to be a pilot project for other impacted areas in the region.
Said he, “It shows an irresponsible government and this is, neither an APC nor PDP matter considering that the UNEP report came up under a PDP government. It took government so long to make a commitment to the clean-up”.
The former Rivers State Environment commissioner traced insecurity in the country to the environmental degradation. “The current security challenges in the country can be traced to this issue. The Niger Delta struggle started as a result of this issue”.
He charged the federal government to, “take care of this problem from the root,” adding that the baseline report launch is “another important opportunity to monitor what HYPREP is doing in Ogoni against the UNEP Report recommendations, he noted that it is important to undertake a baseline study on what is to be done .
The National Assembly member pledged legislative and policy support to any action needed to aid the cleanup process.
Also speaking, Hon Emmanuel Deeyah, former deputy speaker Rivers State House of Assembly and president Kagote, decried the irresponsibility of the federal government exhibited in the half-hazard execution of the clean-up.
The Ogoni pressure group leader said the exercise is not being executed as an outcome of a struggle in which the people lost so much.
“The struggle started well over 30 years ago, took different turns; we lost a lot of people and the clean-up is one of the signs of the struggle. It is important to the Ogonis.
“We have an irresponsible set of government in this country. Issues have been on before government accepted and it is doing it half-hazardly. By now we should be talking of outcomes not baseline.” Hon Deeyah commended CEHRD for coming up with the baseline report which he described as believable coming from a private source. He said Kagote hopes to engage with CEHRD in future.
“Your report is more believable coming from private sources. We hope to engage with you as a people after this time”.
Earlier, chairperson of CEHRD Chief Constance Meju had described the baseline report asa missing link for effective clean up of Ogoniland noting that an understanding of the true state of the land before commencement of the UNEP recommended clean-up would aid success of the exercise.
The integrated baseline report by CEHRD sponsored by Cordaid aims to provide a baseline of the environmental, health, human rights and gender situation in Ogoniland before HYPREP intervention and offers recommendations to various actors in the clean- up process, suggesting indicators with which to monitor the clean- up, remediation and restoration.
The report noted that oil pollution has adversely affected the biodiversity of Ogoniland, livelihood of the people, their health and human rights. It recommended measures to address these while calling for concerted efforts by all to make the clean-up a success.
“While government and the oil companies are in the best position to effect change in Ogoniland and the expectations are high regarding their involvement in the Ogoni clean-up, it does not mean that the responsibility is only theirs to bear. Contamination has been happening for decades in Ogoniland and is ongoing.
“The issue of artisanal refining is overwhelmingly present in Ogoniland, and members from communities participate in it and everyone from the communities benefits from it, at least, through consumption of the products.
“A successful clean-up will require planned action from everyone involved, including communities’ acceptance of their share of responsibility towards their environment. Individual effort from one player will not be sufficient. Providing communities with sensitization to allow them to understand how essential their participation is in the clean-up will be a key aspect of the success of the clean- up”, the report stated.
It warned that failure to halt pollution will hurt the process.
“Alternatively, if the clean-up is executed but re-pollution keeps going on, at the rate it is currently going, the clean- up capacity to effect positive change in the lives of the Ogoni communities will be very limited if any.”
Present at the launch were national and state legislators, Hon Kingsley Chindah and Hon Dunamene Deekor of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Christian Ahiakwor and Hon Michael Nwule of the House Committee on Environment, Rivers State House of Assembly, president Kagote, Hon Emmanuel Deeyah, Comrade Legborsi Pyagbara, Dr. HYPREP, Sir Cyros zonal director NOSDRA, among others.