‘Ogoni cleanup may be wasted effort due to fresh pollution in Bori’
The $1 billion earmarked for the cleanup of Ogoniland in the first five years of the exercise may amount to a waste if illegal oil bunkering and artisanal refining are not urgently curtailed.
Project Coordinator of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), Dr. Marvin Dekil, stated this while speaking on the re-pollution in Bori during the International Day of World Indigenous People at the weekend.
“Our effort to cleanup Ogoniland will amount to nothing if after investing so much resources and time to remediate the land, it is again re-polluted by the activities of illegal bunkering and refining,” he said.
The environmentalist urged Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) and the communities to dissuade the youths from activities, which danger to the health, environment and economy, so that when Ogoniland is cleaned up, it would remain unpolluted for future generations.
Dekil commended Ogoni people for their resilience and commitment to non- violent struggle, saying the United Nations and the Federal Government have recognised Ogoni struggle for which HYPREP was set up in response to demands for a cleanup of the environment.
He said his promise to mobilise remediation contractors to the sites had been fulfilled, as they were presently working on 21 lots in the four council areas of Ogoniland.
“In spite of the several communal and environmental factors that hindered us, work has progressed. In most of the sites, contractors are excavating and treating contaminated soils and some have even completed the process of excavation and are back filling treated soils,” he said.
Dekil explained that soon HYPREP would soon progress to the complex sites where more work was required resulting in numerous economic and social prospects for the Ogoni people in the areas of job opportunities, skill acquisition from HYPREP livelihoods training programme and specialised remediation work in the field.
He added this would reduce the crime rate in the area, because several youths would be engaged meaningfully.
MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara has warned that climate change crisis sould be taken seriously in the country, adding that it has one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century such that the government and people could not continue to ignore it.
“Climate change is real. It is a development, human rights, geographical, social and it food security issue. We cannot continue to pretend as if nothing is wrong. The attitude of our government at all levels to climate change is quite unwholesome. It is time to confront it from our communities before it is too late,” he said.
President of Ogoni socio-cultural group, KAGOTE, Emmanuel Deeyah, observed that although the activities of HYPREP had been slow, Ogoni leaders intend to engage HYPREP on the cleanup exercise, saying the occasion to decry the near absence of economic activities in Ogoni land, had encouraged insecurity and banditry.
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