Reps urge government to fast-track Ogoni cleanup
The House of Representative Committee on Environment and Habitat, has lamented slow pace of work on the Ogoni clean up, urged the Federal Government to declare state of emergency in the area for the exercise to be urgently done.
The Committee Chaired by Obinna Chidioka, said, there is competence on the three companies at the demonstration sites of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) but stressed the need for the processes leading to the clean up to be faster.
The lawmaker stated this when the House of Representative Committee visited HYPREP Demonstration sites in Korokoro Tai, Ogoni, in Tai Local Government Area of the State.
He vowed that the House members would no longer take the issue of Ogoni clean up likely, adding that the issue of the clean up would now be handled with all seriousness.
He called on the Federal Government to promptly release funds required to ensure that the project is actualized timely, stating that the more the delay in the clean up, the more the impact on the livelihood of the people.
He said, “The Governing Council , Board of Trustees who approve the fund for the clean up should be faster in doing that , we want to see government create more efficient ways to making this project go faster”
“We are desirous to see that Ogoni land is cleaned up, not just cleaned up but clean with a specific time limit to enable everyone in Ogoni have normal life again”
He promised that the lawmakers will give the necessary backup through reviewing of the HYPREP guidelines to ensure timely implementation of the exercise.
He said, “HYPREP activities is for a purpose, to clean up Ogoni land, so we want to see that the clean up is done and concluded then we will review the policy to give the environment agencies like NOSDRA, NESDRA the legal framework work to bite to ensure that any further pollution even it is one litre , that the pollutant will not only pay for it but will pay with his freedom”
“If they have been doing their jobs, sending people to jail for polluting the environment, am sure we will not experience this kind of pollution again. So after now, we will take the pollutant’s to court, prosecute any one found guilty “
Also speaking, the member representing Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency, Henry Nwawuba, regretted that the people has continued to suffer and yet there is no clear package about the clean up exercise .
He said, it was worrisome that barely two years the project was flagged off by Vice president, Prof.Yemi Osibanjo ,HYPREP was still
talking rhetorics and showing pictures without concrete evidence on works about the project.
He said: “HYPREP is just going round organising workshops and taking pictures, while the environment is still left suffering, no more fish, periwinkle, we cannot continue to be suffering.why is it that by this time, there is no clear package in the clean up?
“HYPREP is talking too much rhetorics, nothing is being done ,there is need for state of emergency in the area because things need to be done urgently, we are here to ensure that the Ogoni clean up is done as soon as possible “
On his part, the Member representing Ukwa East/West Federal Constituency, Uzoma Abonta, said, it was necessary to create a specific timeline for the project to be delivered, otherwise, HYPREP will keep singing and presenting pictures from year to year.
He called for prompt and adequate funding into the project to enable it achieve the objective.
Earlier, the project Cordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Dekil Marvin, disclosed that the major challenge of the agency, is its inability to access fund directly from the Federal government, stating that it can only access funds through the governing Council .
He regretted that funds are not promptly and adequately released.
The HYPREP boss said, “the process of the clean up has been consistent,we are doing all that we are suppose to do within the law but we hope that a review on the law will help push the whole process faster”
“Emergency measures has been done like the provisions of water, we have opened more demonstration project sites, health impact assessment has also been carried out among others”
Marvin called on the lawmakers to help it deliver the overall objective of government towards cleaning the Ogoni area and ensuring restoration of the livelihood of the people.
Also, the paramount ruler of Ogoni Kingdom and the President, Supreme Council of Traditional rulers of Ogoni, King G.N.Gininwa lamented that inadequate funding was responsible for the slow action in the clean up exercise.
He regretted that the development has continued to make the people to suffer from lack of livelihood, unemployment, insecurity, lack of basic amenities, portable drinking water, good health among others.
He called on the government and the House members to reciprocate the goodwill of the Ogonis by ensuring speedy implementation of the project without further stories.
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