ERA/FoEN accuses FG of inaction over Ogoni cleanup
Seeks $100b rehabilitation fund for exercise in Niger Delta
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) yesterday accused the Federal Government of paying lip service to the cleanup of Ogoniland in oil rich Rivers State.
ERA/FoEN’s Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, who briefed reporters in Abuja, said lack of clarity on the Ogoniland cleanup process after four years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s assurances was unfortunate and unacceptable.
He said: “Shortly after he was sworn into office in 2015, Buhari had promised to implement the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report and even pledged $10m as takeoff grant for the exercise.”
Ojo, who acknowledged that $177m has been released for the cleanup exercise since 2018, lamented that the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) lacked capacity to spend the money as it has no feasible work plan for the funds it has so far received.
While accusing HYPREP of deviating from the UNEP’s report, Ojo said the situation was responsible for its inability to access the yearly $200m for the cleanup exercise.
To achieve the desired objective of the cleanup of Ogoniland, the group is seeking the release of the amount for 2019 promptly and unconditionally.
“HYPREP should halt the deviation, implement the UNEP report and ensure that the $200m annual budget and strategy for funding the Ogoniland cleanup exercise is strictly adhered to.
“We also urge the National Assembly to carry out its responsibility and conduct oversight on the cleanup exercise with a view to tracking the funds so far released and ensure that 2019 outstanding $200m is paid promptly,” Ojo said.
Advocating establishment of $100b rehabilitation fund for the cleanup exercise for the entire Niger Delta, he charged HYPREP to urgently conduct a regional emergency relief measures.
“In particular, it should highlight short-term measures for providing potable water to communities drinking polluted water in Eleme Council and other polluted areas.
“It should also engage experts with local technical knowledge of Ogoniland to develop a region- specific target value for the Ogoni cleanup, develop a proper key performance indicators (KPIs) and feasible plan that indicate short, mid and long-term goals of the project’s lifecycle,” he added.
ERA/FoEN also argued that Shell should immediately withdraw from HYPREP’s governance structure, as this would compromise the cleanup process.
“Shell should not force the RENA cleanup and remediation technique on the process since UNEP’s report clearly indicated that that system was not suitable for the Ogoni cleanup. Decommissioning of its facilities in Ogoni as recommended by that report is also sacrosanct,” it added.
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