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Environmental vanguards to monitor Ogoni clean-up 

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Participants at a one-day Advocacy Meeting on Monitoring Agenda for the Implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Clean-up of Ogoniland in Port Harcourt, Rivers State organized by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State

Participants at a one-day Advocacy Meeting on Monitoring Agenda for the Implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Clean-up of Ogoniland in Port Harcourt, Rivers State organized by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State

Foremost environmental group – Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) has formed a coalition with other civil society organisations for the setting up of environmental vanguards to monitor the planned Ogoni clean-up.

The decision was an outcome of a one-day Advocacy Meeting on Monitoring Agenda for the Implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Clean-up of Ogoniland in Port Harcourt, Rivers State organized by ERA and supported by Green livelihood Alliance of DGIS, Netherlands.

Members of the new coalition include, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni (MOSOP), Oil Watch Africa, Community Forest Watchers, Association of Nigerian Women farmers, NGO Coalition for the Environment and ERA/FoEN.

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The executive director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN), Dr. Godwin Ojo explained that the monitoring would involve air quality and water testing and ensuring that the due process is followed in the clean up of Niger Delta region. The monitors will be selected from the Ogoniland and neigbouring communities. “It is similar to Forest Watch in forest communities that ensures there is no land grabbing and massive deforestation,” he said.

In a communiqué issued after the meeting, the participants called for the release of the gazette of the UNEP report implementation to ensure sustainability beyond the present administration since the clean-up will take 30 years to complete from the take-off date of commencement; Shell’s removal from the Governing Council of the UNEP clean-up exercise to ensure no conflict of interest in the work of the Governing Council and Board of Trustees.

They also expressed the need for unity among the Ogoni people to ensure the process of clean-up of Ogoniland is not stalled and that the clean-up of Ogoniland should be the entry point of the clean-up of the entire Niger Delta region.

Similarly, the groups want adequate awareness creation on the clean-up process to address the concerns of the Ogoni and the generality of Nigerians interested in ensuring the current processes work; an independent monitoring system be set up with representatives of the Ogoni and civil society playing prominent and active roles.

They agreed that the Nigerian government should wean itself of fossil fuels dependency and halt all forms of pollution by the oil industry in the Niger Delta by enforcing the deadline for the cessation of gas flaring and exploring safe renewables.

The participants declared that a state of emergency should be declared in Ogoniland and the entire Niger Delta in view of the mammoth environmental challenges inflicted on the region.

Additionally, they want the clean-up of Ogoniland to commence immediately without further delay, even as they underlined the need for a legal framework and supportive Act for the implementation of the UNEP report. The exercise, they noted, should include health audit of the people in view of declining life expectancy among the people of the region.

Earlier, Ojo noted that, since the publicised approval of the $10 million by President Muhammadu Buhari, nothing has been heard of the fund.

“The federal government needs to be reminded that Ogoni clean up will be a parameter of judging the seriousness of this government in tackling the myriad of environmental problems wroughting on our people by Shell and other oil multinationals, ” he said.


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