ERA/FOEN urges new council to establish Ogoni cleanup centre of excellence
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged the newly inaugurated governing council and trustees for the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) to establish the Centre of Excellence that will provide capacity building and ensure replication of the cleanup in the Niger Delta region.
ERA/FoEN lauded the Federal Government for listening to voices of the people and groups monitoring the cleanup process. ERA/FoEN hopes that sufficient consultation was carried out before the council and board members were appointed. However, it expects that these members have the capacity and expertise to oversee a complex and multifaceted undertaking like the Ogoni cleanup process.
“The new board and the governing council should avoid any potential conflict of interests in the award of clean up contracts and procurement process that had been a hindrance to the cleanup process,” ERA/FOEN Executive Director, Dr Godwin Ojo said.
He said: “The Federal Government environmental legacy project in the last four years has been a story of misplaced priorities, politicised cleanup, personal interest of board members overriding the interest of delivering a world class cleanup process and the critical need to save the lives of our people affected by environmental devastation.”
ERA/FoEN is concerned that the goodwill of the people have already been lost by HYPREP. Clear milestones, workplans and key performance indicators have not been delivered by the agency, leaving their operations lacking in transparency and accountability.
Ojo called on government to ensure that the problems that bedeviled the agency with the award of contracts for cleanup to unqualified companies, political hangers on and members of both the governing council and board of trustees of HYPREP does not reoccur.
ERA/FoEN called on the Federal ministry of environment and HYPREP to make the contractual terms and costs for the over N6 billion water projects public so that local communities, civic groups and even the international community can monitor and evaluate the success of this very important and people-oriented aspect of the project adequately.
Godwin Uyi Ojo calls for a more inconclusive and participatory project design and implementation process to ward against the short comings experienced in the last four years. It is critical that there is community and civil society participation in drawing up a short-term and long-term Workplans, Key Performance Indicators and milestones for the next five years of the project. Any progress from the clean-up should be seen in the scope and quality of environmental remediation and recovery, improvement in the fishing and farming occupations and livelihoods of the Ogonis.”
Finally, ERA/FoEN calls on the federal government to urgently appoint a substantive Coordinator for HYPREP and immediately replace Prof Phillip Shokolo, the Shell nominee at the HYPREP coordination office who presently acts as interim coordinator in the absence of a substantive coordinator. “Shell is a major culprit in the ecocide that the Ogoni environment and society is experiencing. It is inconceivable that a Shell nominated staff that was part of the Shell operations responsible for the pollution of Ogoniland is presiding over HYPREP activities and the clean-up and remediation process,” added Dr Ojo.
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