Mkpoikana Udoma 02 August 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – As the cleanup of oil-impacted sites in Ogoniland is still awaited, some groups are accusing the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project, HYPREP, of dishonesty and manipulation by politicians of Ogoni extraction to raise funds ahead of the 2019 elections.
The groups, the Ogoni Community Development Network and the Save Our Ogoni Project, have separately accused HYPREP of what they described as the continuous exclusion of the larger Ogoni society in discussions related to the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, report in Ogoniland.
The president, Ogoni Community Development Network, Mr. Johnson Kuele, accused HYPREP of attempting to jettison standards and recommended procedures to hurriedly move into the phase where contracts can be awarded to politicians seeking avenues to raise funds ahead of the next elections.
Kuele also accused HYPREP of organising a stakeholders’ meeting and excluding critical stakeholders in the Ogoni project, such as the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, from the event.
Similarly, the Save Our Ogoni Project is accusing HYPREP of attempting to psychologically manipulate the Ogoni nation to accept a cleanup process that is bereft of transparency and using the media to hoodwink the people.
Co-ordinator of Project, Mr. Anthony Aalo, said Ogoni cleanup must be organised, transparent and devoid of dishonest manipulation from political gladiators.
Continuing, Kuele explained that the group was particularly disturbed that the key resolution of the “so-called stakeholders’ meeting was a call for the release of funds for HYPREP.
According to him, “On Saturday July 1, 2017, HYPREP organized a non-representative stakeholder meeting in Port Harcourt where over 80percent of the participants were drawn from a particular political party with the exclusion of members of other political groups and civil society organizations including MOSOP, a situation that is already creating strong divisions in MOSOP and could lead to civil protest against HYPREP.
“Clearly, HYPREP’s desperation for Ogoni cleanup funds would most likely have engendered the exclusion of active stakeholders who should ask critical questions about the management of about $210 million already approved for HYPREP, and raise questions about how HYPREP intends to conduct its cleanup without first putting in place critical structures like the Integrated Soil Management Centre, the Centre for Excellence and the provision of water for all Ogoni communities whose sources of water supply will be affected by the remediation work”.
He called on the Ogoni public “to insist on the right standards and procedures and reject a seeming repetition of the Shell’s way of short-changing Ogoni interests and resort to divide-and-conquer tactics which are currently being employed by HYPREP.”