ERA, others deplore handling of Ogoni cleanup
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has deplored the alleged poor allocation of resources and uncoordinated efforts by the Federal Ministry of Environment for the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to effectively supervise the Ogoni cleanup.
It claimed that the agency had not visited the polluted sites to certify if the supposed work done complied with contractual and regulatory requirements.
The group’s Executive Director, Godwin Ojo, lamented that “despite the lapses, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) and the ministry have already cleared some of the contractors and even gave them the go-ahead to backfill their sites without NOSDRA certification.”
Represented by the Programme Manager, Mike Karikpo, he spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State at a function to mark the 11th anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report ordering the exercise.
Ojo regretted that the lacuna was at variance with the UN agency ’s recommendations.
He also claimed that the laboratories where soil samples were taken for analysis had been compromised.
The activist argued that some of the facilities are owned and run by top government officials with no requisite experience.
“There is absence of independent verification of results churned out by the labs in Port Harcourt. There are close concerns that some of these labs are owned by contractors engaged in the cleanup process and others are owned by top officials,” he alleged
Ojo, however, called for an independent verification mechanism to evaluate if the contractors have met their contractual agreement.
“There is need to set up a multi-stakeholder process to jointly define and determine success indicators and key performance indicators for the Ogoni cleanup process,” he added.
Similarly, Head, Environment and Conservation Unit at the Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development, Dr. Kabari Sam, noted that HYPREP and NOSDRA were expected to work in unison, but pointed out that “there is no evidence from NOSDRA to indicate that the sites are being cleaned.”
He canvassed law to strengthen HYPREP in ensuring that the remediation exercise in the Niger Delta is sustained.
“There is need for a law backing HYPREP. There are areas in Niger Delta region that require 60 years to be cleaned up. So if there is no law backing the agency, any President can come in and say he is no longer interested in the cleanup. But if there is a law, it will ensure the sustenance of HYPREP and also make it independent.”
Also, secretary to the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) Transition Committee, Bariara Kpalap, lamented that conflict of interests was hampering the process.