Port Harcourt — The Federal Government has been charged to provide alternative livelihood for youths of Ogoniland who are involved in artisanal refining of crude oil in the area, in a bid to avoid the risk of exacerbating pollution of the environment.
The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre, YEAC disclosed that the sum of $10million was specifically recommended by UNEP for alternative livelihoods, to dissuade the youths from further polluting the environment by going back to illegal refining activities.
Executive Director of YEAC, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, also urged the government to strengthen the clean up process and ensure that it was done in tandem with the recommendations of UNEP.
Fyneface said HYPREP commencing remediation without putting in place the emergency measures recommended by UNEP was tantamount to putting the cart before the house.
These emergency measures, according to the environmentalist, include provision of potable water, health audit of the people, provision of alternative livelihoods for the people, and setting up of integrated soil management center for the treatment of polluted soil, etc.
“My message to the federal government is that they should strengthen the process of carrying out the environmental clean up in Ogoniland, build the capacity of the people to participate in the clean up, carry out the clean up according to UNEP recommendations.
“The Federal Government should fast track the environmental clean up to restore the livelihood of the people, to the way it was before oil exploration activities started here.
“Youths who are involved in artisanal refining, their livelihoods issues should be addressed, so that they don’t continue polluting the environment while the clean up is going on.
“$10 million is recommended inside the UNEP Report to address this, as we speak HYPREP has enough money to provide that for them.
“HYPREP has over $300 million in their coffers so what is $10million that they cannot use to provide alternative livelihood for the youth that are involved in artisanal refining, in order to tackle repollution?”