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Stakeholders link delay in Ogoni cleanup to cumbersome procurement processes

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Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio (left); Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmood and Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, during a meeting on Ogoni cleanup in Abuja… yesterday. PHOTO: NAN

Stakeholders have identified the cumbersome procurement processes in awarding contracts and non-payment of firms handling the project as reasons for the delay in the cleanup of Ogoniland.

They spoke yesterday at a joint meeting of Governing Council and Board of Trustees (BOT), organised by the Federal Ministry of Environment and Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in Abuja.

A former Commissioner of Environment in Rivers State, Prof. Roseline Konya, said that the processes had hindered the exercise, causing unnecessary slow down of the project.

Konya added that the project should go beyond party politics, propaganda and patronage, saying “what is delaying its commencement borders on contracts award and communication with the people.

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Chairman, BOT, Ogoni Trust Fund, Chief Olawale Edun, said that the BoT’s role was to see to the collection of funds from international partners and manage such funds judiciously.

He argued that the project needed much more than the proposed $1 billion, adding: “We are not happy with the pace of work and we are calling on the Accountant General of the Federation to appoint an auditor for fund administration of the project.”

Minister of the Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, sought an abridged procurement process and an extension of the cleanup exercise to other oil-impacted states in the region.

He maintained that livelihoods and drinking water should be HYPREP’s priority, as these were the essentials of the remediation programme, adding that these would facilitate the cleanup exercise.

Speaking, Minister of the Environment, Dr. Muhammad Abubakar, promised to holistically study the entire project and focus on the essential aspects such as water already on the ground.

A traditional ruler, Chief Bebe Okabi, lamented that people were still drinking water containing over 900 per cent of benzene, adding that Ogoni people have been waiting for interventions to no avail.

Responding, HYPREP’s Project Coordinator, Dr. Marvin Dekil, disclosed that their medical team had treated 20,000 persons in council areas affected by oil and water pollution.


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