*Says HYPREP not following UNEP recommendations
09 August 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Environment Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, on Thursday charged President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to as a matter of urgency commenced the proper cleanup of oil-polluted sites in Ogoniland, Rivers State.
The environmental rights group is also calling on the federal government to show sincerity and demonstrate seriousness, the cleanup should not amount to betrayal and deception of the Ogoni people and the Niger Delta region.
The Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, speaking at an event organised by ERA in Port Harcourt, who recalled that the cleanup exercise was flagged off with pomp and pageantry since 2016, regretted that up till now the actual clean up has not commenced.
Ojo explained that uncertainties of the government on the actual date for the commencement the cleanup portrays insincerity on the government, regretting that government officials were giving conflicting timelines
He stated that Ogoni cleanup has become a smokescreen and this is agitating the mind of many Nigerians including the restive Ogoni people who want their environment restored.
According to him, “What is critical at this point is that the government should as a matter of urgency clarifies when the actual cleanup will commence. After the flag off of the project in 2016, people’s hope was dashed. In 2017 again people’s hope was dashed.
“Now in 2018, we expected that the clean-up would have started since January, but HYPREP and government officials are giving a conflicting cleanup date, and this is very frustrating.
“The Minister of Environment had said that the cleanup will commence in August, yet another government official from the Presidency, Dr. Edobor Iyamu, said the cleanup will commence in December. And here we have the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, saying that the resumption of oil production is a pre-condition for the cleanup.
“These, are really agitating the minds of Nigerians, leaving them no choice but to conclude that the cleanup is a smokescreen. So, when will the cleanup commence and when will the first drop of oil be cleaned from Ogoni.”
The Environmental rights activist further urged the federal government to be responsive enough to live up to its promises, especially in relation to this cleanup process, lamenting that is a variation on the recommendations by UNEP and what HYPREP was currently doing.
“We understand that funds have been released to HYPREP. And the little fund that has been released is being used for overhead and infrastructure. That is not what people want to hear, people want to hear and see that cleanup has started.
“There is a lot of variation between the UNEP recommendations and the cleanup itself as being proposed by HYPREP. The relief emergency measures have been jettisoned. Potable water for the people, alternative sources to livelihood have not been provided.
“These are problematic issues and it looks as if the questions of the minority people, the Niger Deltans in Nigeria as a whole remains a critical issue to be revisited,” Dr. Ojo said.