Budget, groundwork delay cleaning of Ogoni land, says FG
The Federal Government has explained that the clean-up of Ogoni land is being delayed due to budget constraints and the groundwork before the project would start.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was represented by the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibrin, stated this in an interview with journalists at the National Summit on the Niger Delta Clean-Up organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (CSLD) in Abuja, yesterday.
According to him, consequent upon the submission of the UNEP report in 2011, the Federal Government in August 2012 set up the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, as a vehicle to implement the UNEP report on the clean-up of the contaminated sites in Ogoniland. He added that since the inception of the present administration and in line with the campaign promise, significant strides have been made towards realizing the recommendations of the UNEP report.
“I don’t agree with you that there is a delay. Whatever is what doing is what doing well. We have to lay the groundwork and that is what we are doing and you heard my comment that in the next meeting, which will be next week of the governing council, the budget will be considered and it will be passed to the board of trustees.
“You can’t do anything if you don’t have money and you cannot collect the money if you don’t budget for it; so you have to show your work plan which is what HYPREP has been doing.
“So, when people say there is a delay or nothing is done that is relative and that is their own opinion and, of course, they are entitled to it but as far as we are concerned, we are on the right track and very soon people will see a lot of things happening,” he said.
Osinbajo added that with the organisational structure well in place, HYPREP has been focusing on the implementation of the recommendations of the UNEP report, starting with suggested emergency measures and some of the recommendations of the UNEP report are geared towards restoring and promoting the socio-economic sustainability to ameliorate the suffering of the people of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta region.
He said the report suggested that provision of clean drinking water as reports revealed that the existing water facilities contain high concentrations of hydrocarbon contaminants, which is of major health concern, noting that an evaluation of the existing water facilities has been conducted to determine the current status.
“The reports of the assessment exercise also show that the existing water facilities are obsolete and that they do not meet up with the WHO standards. To restore these facilities, HYPREP has advertised for expressions of interest from experts to design and implement an Ogoniland Water Development and Reticulation Plan to the WHO Water Quality Standards,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa said national and international communities are increasingly giving closer attentions to the effects and impact of environmental degradation and the commitments made to the UNEP report, its implementation and the entire cleanup process both as a violation of human rights and as a hindrance to key development outcomes.
Musa noted that the UNEP report said the Ogoniland which is a signpost of the cleanup within the larger Niger Delta might require the world’s biggest-ever clean-up that would likely take up to 30 years and recommended that both the Federal Government and the oil industry to contribute $1billion.
According to him, the report, which made far-reaching recommendations, also raised local and international concerns on the environmental tragedy in the oil-producing Niger Delta, adding that despite the local and international outcry that greeted the UNEP report, the former administration did nothing towards the implementation of the report and the current administration is going that direction considering that 2019 is an election year.
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