Port Harcourt — The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, together with 20 other civil society groups, have charged the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, to advance the implementation of the UNEP Report on Ogoniland.
Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Chima Williams, said the civil society will not rest as watchdogs in ensuring that HYPREP succeeds in Ogoni and that the goals of the UNEP Report is achieved.
Williams, speaking at a one-day national roundtable on HYPREP organised by the Peoples Advancement Centre, expressed delight that the new Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Prof. Nenibari Zabbey, was an activist who had campaigned for implementation of the UNEP Report in Ogoni and had equally published papers on the clean up exercise.
Earlier, the Convener of the meeting, Mr Celestine Akpobari, explained that HYPREP was not set up out of love for impacted people of Ogoni, but due to pressure by the civil society, which, he said, exposed the decade-long injustices meted on the Ogoni people.
Akpobari said the roundtable was targeted at getting the new leadership of HYPREP to stay on course in implementing the UNEP Report, noting that HYPREP had deviated from its original mandate in some cases.
Recommendations made at the roundtable include the need for the Federal Government to adhere to the original mandate which HYPREP was conceived to achieve and the need for a civil society liaison desk within HYPREP.
It also noted the “the immediate need for HYPREP to carry out chemical, air and health assessments as recommended by the UNEP Report in Ogoniland; and the need for the agency to address staff shortages in key areas such as monitoring and operations, in order to deliver on its mandate, among others.”
Responding, the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Prof. Zabbey, assured that mangrove restoration will be a priority of his administration to pave the way for the livelihood challenges of the locals to be adequately addressed.
Zabbey announced that over 500 youths have been recruited as civil security supporting clean-up sites and facilities, even as he pledged to work with the civil society to address the gaps in the operations of the agency.
He promised to put in place a framework for inclusion, community engagement and standard operating procedures within the shortest possible time to ensure that the gaps observed by Ogoni people and the civil society were addressed.
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