03 December 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — An environmental pressure group known as Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth International, ERA/FoEI, has begun the training of youths in Ogoniland on skills to monitor and assess the forthcoming clean up process of oil-polluted sites in the area.
The youths numbering over 50 from the four local government areas that make up Ogoniland, namely, Khana, Gokana, Tai and Eleme, have been given skills needed to detect when a site is properly remediated and restored to normalcy.
Speaking at the end of the two days training for the youths christened Toxic Brigade for the Monitoring of the Clean up of Ogoniland and the Niger Delta, the Programme Manager of ERA, Mr. Mike Karikpor emphasised the need for impacted communities to be actively involved in the clean up, said the monitoring of the clean-up exercise was imperative in a bid to rule out a substandard job.
Karikpor explained that the personnel trained would collect samples from the remediated site, forward same to a laboratory for examination.
According to him, “We are preparing to monitor the cleanup. It is the first clean up in the Niger Delta and it has to be successful, this means that the communities need to be actively involved.
“The samples they(toxic brigade) will get would be taken to a laboratory for examination and verification.
“They would be mindful of the ethics and integrity and will do the work with all honesty as it requires.”
For her part, the Executive Director of Lokiaka Community Development Centre, Ms. Martha Agbani, explained that it would be inappropriate for an all-important job as the remediation process of Ogoniland to be carried out without effective monitoring.
She added that the trained youths would also serve as a watchdog to the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP during the cleanup process.
“We are training these youths in environmental toxic waste management.
“This is so that when the companies do the cleanup, we will have an alternative personnel that will visit the sites to verify if the job was done properly.
“These youths will serve as our toxic brigade and our intention is positive just to ensure that the right thing is done. When we do this, we are helping HYPREP to facilitate their work.
“And if the federal government is sincere they will allow us to work with them to determine if they are doing well or not,” Agbani said.
Also speaking, an environmental geologist and facilitator of the training for the toxic brigade, Dr. Ferdinand Giadom, expressed disappointment over the delays in the commencement of the remediation process.
Giadom who is a lecturer in the Department of Geology, University of Port Harcourt, said the trainees were exposed to different approaches in soil remediation, in order to be able to ascertain the state of their environment whenever the clean up commences.