$1b no longer realistic for Ogoni cleanup, says governing council
The Board of Trustees on Ogoni cleanup has described the initial $1 billion earmarked for the project as unrealistic in the face of rising exchange rate of the naira.
The President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara, disclosed this yesterday after their meeting in Port Harcourt.
He said when the project was conceived in 2011, the exchange rate was much lower, adding that it had since risen to over N500 to a dollar.
According to him: “We had expected that the speed of the implementation process would be faster than what we are seeing. Under the existing circumstance, we need to revalue the exercise to do things properly, instead of being in a hurry and unable to accomplish the task at the end.”
Another member of the board, Dr. Peter Medee, said: “We must not be in a hurry to get the cleanup done, but ensure that the best is given to our people to ensure its sustainability.”
Medee explained that community sensitisation and training of personnel were ongoing in line with the UNEP’s recommendation, promising that other activities would start next week.
He explained that $200 million would be released in five batches each year for the next five years to cover the budgeted amount.
Medee urged the Federal Government to set up policies to generate funds from the multinational companies, instead of depending only on funds from donor agencies.
“Remember that a similar cleanup exercise in the Gulf of Guinea took $36 billion. However, when we receive the money, we would plan how best to utilise it,” he said.
Anyakwee Nsirimovu and Prof. Ben Naanen, who stressed the need for an environment centre in Ogoni, also attended the meeting.